Category: Product Development

Made in USA: Growing Panes for a High-Tech Window Company

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| IndustryWeek

sageglass-recruiting-millennials
SageGlass was bought by a French company but its manufacturing remains in the United States. Operations director David Pender talks about the pros and cons of this arrangement.

SageGlass invented dynamic glass—“tint on demand” windows that use special coatings and low voltages of electricity to filter out varying degrees of light. The small company started in 1989 in New York, but eventually moved to Faribault, Minnesota, 50 miles south of Minneapolis, because the area was developing a reputation for its innovation in window manufacturing.

Then in 2012, French building materials manufacturer Saint-Gobain acquired SageGlass. Although the unmet demand for dynamic glass was mainly in Europe, Saint-Gobain chose to keep production in Minnesota, build a new plant there, and convert the old plant to a research and development facility. The new facility can coat panes of glass that are more than twice the size of the old ones.

David Pender, director of operations at SageGlass (who previously spent 11 years in Germany working for Saint Gobain), talked about the challenges and advantages of keeping SageGlass’s manufacturing and R&D in the United States:

Challenge: Europe has the most growth potential, but our manufacturing facility is in the U.S.

Western Europe is a little further along than the U.S. in building codes. What’s considered extremely exotic here … is considered almost normal in Europe. Getting the supply chain right to be able to produce everything from what’s acceptable in the U.S. to what’s expected in Europe poses a certain amount of challenge. We’ve got to be sourcing some things from Europe, to make the products here and then shift them back to Europe. That doesn’t make too much sense at the moment, but we are trying to grow this market worldwide. Europe is growing very, very quickly because the Saint-Gobain name in Europe is a big plus.

Advantage: The highest demand for the product is still in the U.S.

Overall, we’re on a three to four times year-over-year expansion. So this year we’ll produce three to four times what we did in 2016. Which is a phenomenal growth rate, and that’s set to continue as we grow in the Europe, in the U.S. and the Middle East. We just got our first really big job in China. In the future, this facility will get to capacity and just produce in North America, and there will probably be another facility doing something similar in Europe—and who knows how that will do going forward.

Continue reading “Made in USA: Growing Panes for a High-Tech Window Company”

The Ups and Downs of Made in the USA

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| IndustryWeek

Joao Silva works with Baxter the cobot on Tinkertoys at the Rodon plant in Pennsyvania. K’Nex
 For many companies, the 2008-09 recession was a time to scale back. But for Michael Araten, CEO and president of the toy company K’Nex Industries, it was a time to rethink and regroup.

K’Nex, which makes Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs as well as its eponymous brightly colored building sets, followed the trend of offshoring in the late 1990s, and by the early 2000s had outsourced most of its toymaking to China.

But by the time Araten arrived at the company in 2005, the long lead time required to ship toys to the United States—coupled with high demand only three months out of the year—was becoming a strain on the business. Catering to the changing tastes of 8-year-olds is a dicey proposition, and product decisions made in January could be yesterday’s news nine months later when the ship pulled into port.

With machines idling at K’Nex’s sister company, Rodon, a plastics manufacturer in Pennsylvania, Araten saw an opening to bring the toy production back home. “We were looking to keep our people employed,” he said.

Continue reading “The Ups and Downs of Made in the USA”

Counterfeit on Amazon

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Amazon.com (AMZN) is finally taking counterfeiters to court.

The e-commerce giant for the first time has filed lawsuits against counterfeit sellers, after a number of businesses on Amazon voiced concern that knockoffs were killing their sales and endangering consumers.

On Monday, Amazon filed suit against a group of sellers for infringing on athletic training equipment developed by TRX. In a second case, Amazon sued sellers who are offering fake versions of a patented moving product called Forearm Forklift.

Last month, CNBC.com featured Forearm Forklift , a Southern California company that has been crushed in recent years from counterfeiting on Amazon. Mark Lopreiato, the founder of the company, which makes straps for lifting and moving heavy equipment, said he submitted more than 100 cease-and-desist letters to sellers and takedown notices to Amazon, yet fakes have continued to proliferate. Continue reading “Counterfeit on Amazon”

Is Made In America More Than Just Hype?

IS 'MADE IN AMERICA' MORE THAN JUST HYPE. Made in USA Jeans, Made in USA shoes
A L.L. Bean shipping center in Freeport, Maine. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As the media tells it, American-made goods are having a “moment.” But the numbers tell a different story. Continue reading “Is Made In America More Than Just Hype?”

Where Are the Most U.S. Manufacturing Workers? Los Angeles

Where Are the Most U.S. Manufacturing Workers? Los Angeles
The Los Angeles metro area has the most manufacturing workers in the country. Those include workers at the Karen Kane factory in Vernon, Calif.

Photo Credit: PATRICK T. FALLON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

The largest center of manufacturing in the U.S. is about as far from the rust belt as you can get. Continue reading “Where Are the Most U.S. Manufacturing Workers? Los Angeles”

Pitching Products to Walmart, in 30 Minutes

Pitching Products to Walmart, in 30 Minutes
Hoping to have their products chosen by the world’s largest retailer, entrepreneurs prepare to make their case during Wal-Mart’s Made in USA ‘Open Call’ in Bentonville, Ark. WESLEY HITT FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Entrepreneurs, in ‘Shark Tank’ style, try to get their gadgets and foods onto retailer’s shelves

Continue reading “Pitching Products to Walmart, in 30 Minutes”

Product Development in Shenzhen: Should You Move to Hong Kong?

Product Development in Shenzhen: Should You Move to Hong Kong?

China’s emergence as a manufacturing powerhouse over the last decade was quite the debut. Besides surpassing the United States as the world’s largest producer of manufactured goods in 2011, China also managed to double their GDP per capita and in turn, greatly improve the nation’s standard of living. To put this into perspective, this is a feat that took the United Kingdom 150 years (McKinsey). Continue reading “Product Development in Shenzhen: Should You Move to Hong Kong?”

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