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IHA Design event shows off innovation

BY HBSDEALER Staff

The International Housewares Association (IHA) recently hosted a Discover Design media event in New York City Oct. 21 aimed at showing off exciting new housewares products coming out soon with a focus on design.

Twenty-seven companies featured their latest and greatest in the Rhinelander Ballroom of the Hilton New York.

“At this time of year, I find that a lot of the companies that are here are focused on design,” said Lisa Casey Weiss, Lifestyles consultant for the IHA.

Weiss said that while many companies offer functional products that meet consumer needs, interesting and compelling designs can often give products a definitive edge.

“The product itself is functional. That’s the idea when you purchase a housewares product — it’s supposed to do something for you. Design is the added benefit. It differentiates products from others, it differentiates yourself from your competitors, and it catches the consumer’s eye on the sales floor,” she said.

Weiss also emphasized the importance of the housewares category in the hardware and hardlines retail environment, which can often create a one-stop shopping experience for consumers.

“There is a market for consumers when they go to a hardware store. They’re also looking for housewares items. It’s a natural mix between the two items. People are working inside and outside the home,” she said.

Norwood, Mass.-based Boston Warehouse, whose slogan is “putting the Fun in functional,” featured its new line of garden tools called Garden Goddess. The stainless steel and aluminum construction tool collection features a set of garden shears, fork, trowel and a watering can, each sporting a colorful floral design.

“They’re garden tools, but they’re really well designed. They have a little bit of a flare to them, they’re whimsical, they’re fun,” said Weiss.

Charleston, S.C.-based AM Conservation Group was also on hand to showcase its latest energy-saving plug and outlet covers. Focused on energy conservation, the Plug Guard Wall Plate Cover is designed to upgrade outlet covers to a new clean design that saves energy. The plate cover not only insulates and seals out drafts, it keeps unoccupied outlets covered for added child safety with spring-activated doors that shut automatically. The company’s Universal Wall Plate Thermometer also features built-in insulation and includes a built-in thermometer to help homeowners keep their homes within energy-saving temperature ranges. The thermometer fits both toggle- and decora-type switches and features a 360-degree swiveling thermometer to display Fahrenheit and Celsius temperatures.

Congers, N.Y-based Casabella showcased its latest designs in cleaning supplies. The company featured the Moon Mop, so named because of its crescent moon-shaped cleaning head, which combines a 360-degree swivel action to get into corners, around legs and behind toilets with ease. The mopping surface has a washable and reusable micro fiber sponge head with easy glide technology, allowing for a water-only, chemical-free cleaning solution.

Israel-based Epilady, known for personal grooming products, showcased a new flea removal device for pets called the Flea Zapper. Designed to replace chemical and toxic colors and gels, the Flea Zapper detects and destroys fleas on contact simply by combing it through dry hair. When the electronic comb touches fleas, they get zapped, die and are combed out of the hair.

Wisconsin-based La Crosse Technology featured its new line of The Weather Channel-branded weather gauges, like the Lollipop Garden Thermometer and Cascading Ice Cube Rain Gauge. The company also featured a line of wireless gauges, including a wireless digital rain gauge with a self-emptying rain bucket.

The preview show was just a warmup to the IHA’s upcoming 2011 Housewares Design Awards, which will take place Feb. 2.

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Briggs & Stratton signs new labor contract

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Milwaukee-based Briggs & Stratton has signed a new three-year contract with members of the United Steelworkers Local 2-232 who work at the company’s Wauwatosa, Wis., manufacturing facility, according to the Journal-Sentinel.

Members of the union voted 211-77 to accept the deal, which included a signing bonus and a 2% annual raise over the next three years, but also increased the amount employees pay into their health benefits and allowed the company to hire temporary workers at the facility as it sees fit.

While company officials see the deal as a “win-win,” union leadership said employees lost ground financially, according to the article.

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Deere renames credit unit

BY HBSDEALER Staff

Moline, Ill.-based Deere & Co. renamed its credit and financial services division to John Deere Financial, in a move to represent the full breath of services the business unit offers, the company said.

“John Deere Financial remains committed to providing products and services that help customers, dealers and others succeed around the world,” said Jim Israel, president of Deere & Co.’s Worldwide Financial Services Division.

“When we made the decision to expand our presence in the crop insurance industry, we realized that our name needed to change to encompass our expanding range of financial products and services,” Israel said. “The new name more accurately reflects our strong commitment to meet the diverse business needs of our customers, dealers and other distributors around the world.”

The company said John Deere Financial would continue to serve its equipment customers worldwide by offering retail, wholesale and lease financing on John Deere equipment. The company also will continue to provide revolving credit and crop insurance for customers, while assessing other products that could help customers whose work is linked to the land, the company said.

The name change will take place over the next few months at the company’s various locations. The division’s headquarters in Johnston, Iowa, will be the first to change.

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