A little package with big messages
Without some key elements of the packaging, the Little Big Shot has — in the words of its chief marketer and ambassador David Kurrasch — no shot at winning over the consumer during that all-important, first-impression in the aisle.
About the size of a golf ball, the brass nozzle with a ball-bearing control mechanism benefits from a blister pack that simulates the nozzle in action. The packaging shows one end of the nozzle attached to a hose, while the other end shoots a powerful spray of water.
The package also tells the story of performance, conservation and — perhaps most significantly — a Made-in-the-USA story with the added emotional power of “assembled by disabled U.S. veterans.”
“We didn’t set out by saying, ‘Let’s have a veteran built product to use as a marketing strategy,’” Kurrasch told HCN. “We feel very fortunate to have found the veteran groups to work with us. And we wanted to help put people to work.”
Kurrasch, the entrepreneur and founder of K-CO Innovations, said the first objective was to find the right suppliers to turn the brass in the United States. Research lead to two: Alger Manufacturing in Ontario, Calif., and Avanti Engineering of Glendale Heights, Ill.
Two factories were necessary to meet the in-season volume of 50,000 nozzles per week, he said. Assembly takes place in sheltered workshops of veterans hospitals in Long Beach, Calif., and, more recently, Milwaukee.
An immediate marketing challenge for the product was to make clear to the customer that it was a nozzle, and not a coupler or some other form of hardware.
“Typically, hose nozzles have handles,” Kurrasch said. “They have dials, they’re much bigger than this. They look different. The package had to tell people from 4 ft. away that it is a hose nozzle.”
The success the nozzle has had at Bed Bath & Beyond indicates the packaging’s success as an impulse purchase. “People don’t tend go into Bed Bath & Beyond looking to buy a hose nozzle,” he said.
Kurrasch says the veterans, many of whom are disabled beyond the ability to find work elsewhere, are precise and engaged in the assembly of the product. And the message on the package — though not aggressive — resonates with consumers.
“I’ve heard stories from people who didn’t have a need for a new nozzle, but they wanted to support a product that was providing jobs for veterans,” Kurrasch said.
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There’s no place like home
The good news for American manufacturing is that companies love to say that they’re Made in the USA. The bad news is that many say so without really meaning it. Even while demand accelerates for homegrown products, the FCC requirements for advertising Made-in-USA products remain shrouded in ambiguity. So long as they’re “all or virtually all” made in the United States, they qualify, but HCN’s February Made-in-USA survey found that as much as 48% of the home improvement industry doesn’t think the standard is clear and easy to follow, with an additional 36.7% voting neutral on the issue.
HCN decided to do a bit of the hard work for its readers by coming up with this short list of Made-in-USA products by companies with a stake in championing the cause. Here, you’ll see goods ranging from all-natural dog treats to insulation, all 100% American-made. After all, as Adams Manufacturing CEO and founder Bill Adams puts it, being “deeply committed to American innovation — and to the idea of making products that enrich people’s lives … is what Made in USA is really all about.”
Leviton Decora Switches and Wallplates
Leviton has been U.S.-based since the turn of the last century, and today, half of its home electrical department is certified Made in the USA. Its Decora switches, wall-plates and receptacles are all manufactured in Morganton, N.C. (leviton.com)
Savino Wine Saver
This All-American concept goes even further in its localization: founder Scott Tavenner was born and raised in California’s wine country, which gave him the right set of eyes to appraise the age-old problem of wine preservation. The Savino Wine Saver, made in Mountain View, Calif., creates a physical barrier between the wine and the oxygen, creating a discernible difference in taste within as little as 12 hours — though it’ll keep for much longer. (savinowine.com)
Weyerhaeuser Hardwood Edge
Touted as the industry’s first OSB floor panel engineered for use under hardwood floors, Hardwood Edge is made in Elkin, N.C., with locally sourced wood and then distributed in Virginia and the Carolinas, where the stable, high-density subfloor can best serve the needs of the humid region. Weyerhaeuser says it developed the product based on years of research and close work with local builders and contractors. (weyerhaeuser.com)
Estwing Pro Claw Roofing, Siding, Construction Bar
Drop-forged from fine tool steel, this all-purpose tool hails from Rockford, Ill., is pro enough for contractors but is user-friendly enough for the DIYer. The bar has a 2.5-in. fulcrum on one blade for an advantage in removing shingles, downspouts, gutters and nails. (estwing.com)
Yost 31C, 3-1/2-in. Combination Pipe and Bench Vise
Here’s a gripping proposition: an all-American-made line of vises with multiple custom options. This one, made at company headquarters in Holland, Mich., features an interlocking swivel base and 65,000 PSI tensile ductile iron body parts. (yostvises.com)
LoggerHead Tools Bionic Wrench
American-made lifetime guarantee aside, this wrench (hailing from Palos Park, Ill.) gets points for its creative and unusual design. Think of it as adjustable wrench meets pliers, with patented Bionic Grip technology to distribute force equally and multiply gripping power. (loggerheadtools.com)
DeckWise Hidden Deck Fasteners
There’s little doubt that DeckWise’s fasteners hail from Bradenton, Fla. The patented design is made to hold up stronger in humid, tropical-storm-prone regions by allowing the decking material to expand and contract. The result is a structural soundness that’s up to three times stronger than other deck fastening systems, with no unsightly or dangerous screws sticking out. (deckwise.com)
Manufactured at the company’s Racine, Wis., plant, CalStar bricks use up to 81% less energy and generate up to 84% less CO2 than products that use clay, Portland cement or firing techniques. The bricks are made up of 37% post-industrial recycled material and bear all the good qualities of their traditional counterparts, as the testimonials would have it. (calstarproducts.com)
Pawtriotic Natural Dog Treats
Winner of the National Hardware Show All-American Award for Best New Product, these oven-baked treats come from a human food safety certified facility in Monroe, Wash., and feature real American dogs on their packaging. (pawtriotictreats.com)
Bode Man Hanger
When hardware and design combine, one gets the Man Hanger, a heavy-duty clothes hanger made from construction-site rebar. Assuming most customers don’t wear suits made of iron (but just in case they do), the design element puts this item in the industrial-chic league. And they’re all hand-bent (and made) in the mountains of Arizona. (bodegoods.com)
Bully Tools Long-Handled Mud Shovel
In celebration of the Steubenville, Ohio, company’s American-made tradition, this mud shovel states its case with a commemorative perforated design. Minus the flourishes, this hardy shovel features a 14-gauge steel head and ferrule and wood-reinforced fiberglass handle. (bullytools.com)
Tub O’ Towels All Purpose Wipes
The self-described “wipes on steroids” contain nine cleaning agents in each supersized 10-in. by 12-in. scrubbing towel. These brawny wipes are 100% made in Cleveland and fit to tackle rustbelt-worthy jobs (such as cleaning motorcycle parts). What’s more, the low-VOC solution is biodegradable. (tubotowels.com)
Adams RealComfort Adirondack Chair
Adams Manufacturing is so committed to its status as a certified Made-in-the-USA company, it hired a professional Lincoln impersonator to greet visitors at its National Hardware Show booth. Here, an employee hammers in patented SafetyGrip feet onto an Adirondack chair at the company’s Portersville, Pa., headquarters. (adamsmfg.com)
HandyDeck is a supplier of
HandyDeck is a supplier of interlocking deck tiles and commercial style pavers.
i like it and
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wow so cool.
But you can find
wow so cool. But you can find a suction cups in our web. that right? http://www.isuctioncups.com
Hardware stores seize the market opportunity
During the height of what some call the Great Recession, as the country was struggling to reverse the economic slide, Tom Hardman was looking for positive themes his hardware store could use to project an attitude that said: “We refuse to participate in the recession.”
“I wanted something to lift our employees’ and customers’ attitudes. One was to make them feel that individually they could make a difference,” said Hardman, co-owner of Hardman Supply Co., of Spencer, W. Va.
Hardman began promoting a “Made in the USA” campaign, framing the message this way: “By choosing to buy American, you are helping to put our friends, family and neighbors back to work. Let’s all buy American and bring those jobs back to the U.S.”
Other hardware retailers have taken similar paths, stocking more Made-in-USA products; in some cases they have created sections, or even entire stores, around Made-in-USA goods.
“As with many other industries, demand for products Made in the USA and a desire to support the domestic economy continues to grow,” said Mike Clark, chief merchandising officer of True Value Co. “As consumers continue to face an uneven economy, the new consumer value equation that emerged from the recession is now the new normal.”
Mike Petro, manager at The All American Store, with two locations in Ohio, said with many jobs outsourced, he wants customers to know that they’re helping keep people employed here in America by buying his products. “We believe an effective and simple solution to end our country’s decline is to buy what Americans produce,” he said. “When you purchase an item made or assembled in America, you are supporting a fellow American’s job.”
Sourcing and merchandising
While manufacturing products overseas may be cheaper, hardware store operators feel there are compelling reasons to buy and sell American products.
Hardman said he was pleasantly surprised to find so many domestic products in his company’s inventory. The Do it Best dealer searched the corporation’s catalog to find each product’s country of origin. He found that categories, such as building materials, paint, flooring and heating, had a high percentage of American production. Other departments had select categories that fell into this range.
Once the domestic products were chosen, Hardman adhered a “Made in the USA” label next to the bin label of that product. “In our circulars and on the radio, we identified qualifying products so our customers could ‘choose’ to buy Made in the USA,” he said. “At the Do it Best markets we search for products to add to our assortment.”
Two years ago, Petro issued a “call to arms” to the American retail industry, urging fellow dealers to make a commitment to Made in the USA. “No matter how small or large your store, you should dedicate at least 4 ft. of retail space to products made or assembled in America,” he said. “If everyone had at least a 4-ft. endcap of a Made-in-the-USA product in their stores, the repercussions would be substantial. Everyone can do it. It is time for the retail industry to step up to the plate and get this economy going. As retailers, we have tremendous influence on the buying habits of consumers.”
Petro even took some credit in Walmart’s new emphasis on U.S.-made goods. “A story title that linked Walmart and the All American Store was the headline in a article written by Motley Fool for the AOL business section just over one year ago. It was the No. 1 story on AOL’s front page for four straight days. We had so much traffic on our website it crashed our site for eight hours and generated well in excess of 50,000 visitors.”
Products that sell
Clark said basic plumbing and electrical sundries are benefiting where commercial users have a preference for U.S.-made products; and he noted that customer groups in certain farm and ranch categories appreciate American-made products, such as fencing and long-handled tools.
Petro said in his stores, virtually every product sells. Two of the better performers are Lodge Cast, which makes a line of iron skillets, and Tifco fasteners. “What fascinates our customer base is the amount of everyday products we inventory at our company,” he said. “What has surprised me is the number of companies that have contacted us to inventory their products, as well as the distance our customer base will travel to shop at our stores.”
In a 2013 study, Perception Research Services International found that 4-out-of-5 shoppers notice a “Made in the USA” label on packaging, and 76% of them said they would be more likely to buy a product because of the label. The Boston Consulting Group in a separate study found that 80% of consumers surveyed said they would be willing to pay more for Made-in-the-USA products than for those carrying a Made-in-China label.
This revelation does not surprise dealers. Petro said his customers would pay more for American-made as long as there was a difference of approximately 20% versus the Chinese-made.
True Value’s Clark said customers “in many cases” would pay a premium for American products. “While price remains an important consideration, the value of Made in USA is important to many consumers,” he said. “Of course, the media helps keep the Made-in-USA discussion top of mind for both our consumers and retailers. There is strong sentiment for keeping jobs in the USA.”
“It is time for the retail industry to step up to the plate and get this economy going.”
Mike Petro, manager, The All American Store
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