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Acme brings Scotts and Miracle-Gro garden tools to market

BY Ken Clark

Acme United Corp. and Scotts Miracle-Gro have formed a licensing partnership to create two new lines of innovative lawn and garden tools, which will enter the home and garden market this May: Scotts AirShoc, aimed at lawn care professionals and serious DIYers; and the Miracle-Gro EnviroLine, developed for home gardeners.

The two product lines will be officially unveiled at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas, May 7-9, and thereafter made available through multiple retail channels, including specialty and national chains.

The collaboration marks the first time Scotts Miracle-Gro will introduce lawn and garden cutting tools to its repertoire of successful lawn and garden-care products: a full range of tools, including pruners, loppers, hedge shears, snips, floral knives and more.

Through this licensing partnership, Acme, the owner of the Clauss brand of floral cutting tools, will market and sell lawn and garden tools branded Scotts and Miracle-Gro, and powered by Clauss technology.

Rick Constantine, VP marketing with Acme United, said all product design on the new line has been in close collaboration with Scotts Miracle-Gro’s professional staff. Constantine said, "This partnership leverages both of our strengths, combining Scotts Miracle-Gro’s knowledge and presence in lawn and garden with our expertise in cutting tool designs, bonding technologies and manufacturing.”

The tools feature titanium-bonded stainless steel, making them both corrosion-resistant and up to five times harder than untreated stainless steel. Integrated Microban antimicrobial technology helps prevent the growth of bacteria and fungus on both the handles and cutting blades. The Miracle-Gro products and packaging are built from recycled materials.

The AirShoc line also features break-through “Tool-Less Blade Change” technology, allowing the user to change from a bypass blade to an anvil blade to a snip in seconds. This technology provides multiple cutting options while simplifying sharpening and cleaning.

Constantine said that the AirShoc designs have already earned a Good Design Award for Innovation and an IDEA Award from the Industrial Designers Society of America

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Q2 profit slips slightly at WD-40 Co.

BY Ken Clark

San Diego-based WD-40 Co. reported net income of $10.5 million in the second quarter, down 1% compared with the previous year.

Net sales for the quarter ended Feb. 28 increased 1% to $86.7 million.

Gross margin was 50.9% in the second quarter compared with 49.0% in the same quarter last fiscal year.

"We were able to maintain our gross margin due to several factors, including the price increases we took last year to offset product cost increases, the relative stability in commodity costs and the benefits of the supply chain initiatives we implemented in China and North America," said Garry Ridge, president and CEO. 

Second-quarter multipurpose maintenance products sales, which include the WD-40, 3-In-One and Blue Works brands, were $75.4 million, up 6% from the prior-year fiscal quarter, and $157.2 million year-to-date, up 11% from the same period last fiscal year.

The multipurpose maintenance products are considered a primary focus for the company. Homecare and cleaning products sales, which include all other brands, were $11.3 million for the second quarter, down 23%, and were $24.8 million year-to-date, down 14%, both as compared with the prior fiscal year periods. The U.S. homecare and cleaning products are considered harvest brands providing healthy profit returns to the company and are becoming a smaller part of the business as the multi-purpose maintenance products sales grow.

For the first six months, sales increased 6% to $182.0 million. Year-to-date net income was $21.4 million, an increase of 23% from the prior fiscal year period.

The WD-40 Specialist product line was launched in fiscal year 2012 and was expanded into additional countries in the first half of fiscal year 2013. During the second quarter of fiscal year 2013, the company also launched three additional products in the WD-40 Specialist line: WD-40 Specialist Dirt & Dust Resistant Dry Lube, WD-40 Specialist Electrical Contact Cleaner Spray and WD-40 Specialist Machine & Engine Degreaser. The company recently launched the WD-40 Specialist Motor Bike line in the U.K. as well. 

"We are pleased with the performance of the WD-40 Specialist product line and what it does to bring the power of the WD-40 shield to new products that meet the needs of our end users," Ridge said. "As we planned, we continue to expand the WD-40 Specialist product line with new product offerings and in new categories, and later this year we will introduce a new line of products in the U.S. in the lawn and landscape arena."

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Valspar expands Pro Paint Program at Lowe’s

BY Ken Clark

Minneapolis-based The Valspar Corp. says it expanded its retail paint program with Lowe’s, tailoring it to the needs of the professional painter.

The effort brings a line of Valspar Pro and dedicated in-store service to more than 1,700 Lowe’s retail locations, according to the manufacturer’s announcement. 

“We believe this program at Lowe’s provides a compelling alternative to stand-alone paint stores by delivering quality professional paint products at an everyday low price with the added convenience of one-stop shopping,” said Howard Heckes, Valspar’s senior VP global consumer. 

The program includes a comprehensive lineup of Valspar-branded professional-grade products in multiple formulations and finishes that simplifies paint selection, while delivering on the durability and performance requirements of professional painters.

Valspar says it relied on input from pros as it expanded in-store support through custom tinting and color matching services, small batch mixing as well as direct shipping, volume and value pricing. 

The Valspar Pro program represents a substantial growth opportunity for Valspar as the professional paint business represents more than half of the U.S. architectural paint market, Valspar said. The program is also supported by a new mobile Web application at Valsparpro.com that provides essential information and application advice on various formulations and finishes. 

Valspar Pro officially launched in Lowe’s stores March 25 and features the “Pro Challenge,” a series of more than 300 events taking place in various Lowe’s retail locations throughout the U.S. 

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