New Member Spotlight: Gordon Brush

Patriotism is tantamount at Gordon Brush Mfg. Co. Inc., a 62 year old manufacturer of over 15,000 American made brooms and brushes for industrial and commercial applications. Gordon Brush has made brushes for the United States Army to clean the main gun on the Abram’s tanks, saving the Department of Defense over $1.5 billion. The company has also made brushes that were used on the space shuttle, the lunar module, and brushes to clean the guidance system and guns on the Apache helicopter.

In recent years, however, Gordon Brush has been heavily impacted by the competition from foreign markets. Gordon’s Milwaukee Dustless brush line of janitorial cleaning tools and its health and wellness product, the FootMate® System, face the most intense pressure from lower priced foreign made products, in many distribution channels. Many end users are willing to sacrifice cost over quality, even though in the long run it ends up costing them more because they have to replace sub-standard product more frequently. Moreover, these lower quality products do not do the job for which they were intended, thus leaving a substandard work-product.

Even under these competitive threats, “the company has been steadfast in its philosophy and commitment to manufacturing in the United States,” said Ken Rakusin, president and CEO. “Manufacturing in California and Wisconsin is still a viable model, even if it brings with it some tough challenges. Gordon Brush prides itself on its American heritage dating back to 1897, when the first dustless brush was invented in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by the Milwaukee Dustless Brush Company, which was acquired in 2005,” further added Rakusin.

“Companies that have nothing to differentiate themselves on besides prices are the most vulnerable to the threat of lower priced foreign made products; that’s a no-win game. Gordon Brush chooses to compete on value-added,” said Rakusin. Offering premier products with superior customer service have enabled the company to grow and prosper in spite of the Chinese threat. “The Milwaukee Dustless motto: Innovative Products that Clean Better and Last Longer is a testament to this philosophy,” said Rakusin.

In addition to the Gordon and Milwaukee Dustless line of brushes, the company’s recently introduced the FootMate® System. The Podiatrist recommended FootMate® System makes optimal foot health easy. It is a complete foot care system for cleaning, soothing, stimulating, and massaging your feet every time you shower. The FootMate® System stands head-and-shoulders (or perhaps foot-and-heels) above competitors. The FootMate® brush has over 11,000 bristles and weighs over three pounds compared to the 1,000 bristle, few ounces weighing foreign competitor. “The FootMate System is a high quality American made product that will last and not crumble,” exclaimed Rakusin.

Gordon Brush never considered off-shore manufacturing to become more price competitive. Our American made products give us the ability to display our patriotism and pride and to create feelings of goodwill when our customers receive American-made items.

When considering off-shore manufacturing, the allure of international low-cost labor has to be balanced with loss of control, local customs challenges and costs. “Product reliability, and safety and compliance measures, less inventory/stock issues, and difficulties bringing a distinct company culture across the world, were all contributing factors against going off-shore,” according to Rakusin. In addition, the cost of shipping and the ability to offer same day shipping on most standard brushes was a major factor in keeping business here in the United States,” said Rakusin.

“In spite of all of these issues, I was determined to build and grow my business in the United States by re-investing profits into the purchase of millions of dollars in manufacturing equipment and machinery; pride in contributing to the American economy is near-and-dear to my heart,” further proclaimed Rakusin. “Moreover and perhaps most importantly,” added Rakusin, “are my valued, long-tenured, skilled employees. I have well over 100 employees, plus their families, for who I am responsible. I tell them that Gordon Brush is a great place to work and we are committed to enhancing their lives. Brush-making is an art; I would not have a business without these skilled artisans. I would be a hypocrite if I ignored that commitment for the purpose of improving my bottom line.”

It’s because of companies like Gordon Brush, American manufacturing is alive and some predict it might even be making a “comeback.” As a proud member of American Made Matters, Gordon Brush is spreading the word about the importance of American manufacturing, one foot at a time!

- Article courtesy of Alan M. Schechter

Ken and Gordon Brush Employees

Gordon Brush Mfg. Co., Inc. is an ISO 9001:2008 certified and leading manufacturer of specialty, custom and standard brushes for industrial and consumer purposes. The company makes the FootMate System as well as over 15,000 other medical, industrial, janitorial, and electronic brushes at its 51,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Commerce, California It stocks over 2,000 different brushes for same day shipment selling to a variety of industries including medical, electronics, manufacturing, military, aerospace, and pharmaceutical. Gordon Brush has been featured on the ION Network, Discovery Channel, Bloomberg News, and in the Los Angeles Times.

 

 

Consumer Q & A – Tips for Shopping American Made

We recently sat down with Heidi, an avid shopper of American Made products, and asked her to share some of her secrets with us!

  1. How do you find American made products?
    1. I generally try to search for American made brand or products before I even go to a retail store. Oddly enough just searching “Item of Clothing made in USA” will yield quite a few search results.  Nordstrom.com is one of the first places I go when trying to find an American made product because searching for “made in USA” will generate thousands of results. Nordstrom has one of the best search features that I’ve seen and I’m impressed with how easy they make it to find items made in the USA.
  2. About what percentage of what you buy is American made?
    1. In this past year I’ve purchased three items of clothing that were not made in the USA and two of those were shoes. I have really committed myself to buying American made clothing even down to my running shoes and socks. I would say that 90% plus of what I buy is made in the USA in terms of clothing and accessories.
  3. How do you normally shop for anything? (online or in stores)
    1. I do most of my shopping online. It’s easier and more convenient, plus I can try smaller retails from across the country.
  4. In a traditional retail store setting, what do you do to find American made products?
    1. I ignore some brands completely, but I generally look at every single tag to see where something is made. If it’s made in China I won’t purchase it. Those two pairs of shoes I mentioned above were made in Italy, so I felt a bit better about purchasing them.
  5. What are some reasons that would prevent you from buying American?
    1. Cost is certainly a factor. Buying American is expensive and I am on a limited budget. However, that just means I buy less and invest in quality over quantity.
  6. How much of an issue is price when buying American made?
    1. For most items I find the price difference to be somewhat noticeable. However, American made shoes are expensive! The options are limited at best and the few options out there are very expensive.
  7. Thinking about all the American made products you own, do you think these products have a higher quality than foreign made goods?
    1. I do believe high quality goods can be produced all over the globe. I have shoes that were made in Italy and they are the highest quality shoes I own. However, I do believe that American made products are high quality and certainly far superior to items produced in sweatshops.
  8. From your experience, do American made products have a longer life span that other products?
    1. Yes! This related back to quality.
  9. What type of American made product do you own the most of?
    1. Tshirts and dresses. Los Angeles is known as the tshirt capital of the world and it shows!
  10. What American Made products is the easiest to find?
    1. Tshirts and jeans.
  11. Are you willing to pay more for an American made item?
    1. Yes, but within reason. If something is just too expensive I won’t purchase it or I’ll wait until I can find it on sale.
  12. What is your favorite American made item to buy?
    1. Dresses. I have quite a few professional attire dresses that were made in the USA. These pieces are high quality, fashionable, and will last me a very long time. I love the fit and I don’t have to worry about ruining the dress by wearing it repeatedly. They’re my version of a power suit.
  13. If you had to give one reason why you try to buy American, what would it be?
    1. Doing what I can do for my country. I really do believe it is my patriotic duty to buy American. I’m proud of my country and I do what I can to support the independent and entrepreneurial spirit of American when I’m spending my hard earned dollars.

For more information check out Heidi’s blog - http://jax-and-jewels.blogspot.com/

K-Kleen Launches New Website

Company overview

In 1995 Patrick Kennedy Sr. founded K-Kleen Inc., a service company, which specializes in cleaning kitchen exhaust systems.  K-Kleen now provides service to over seven hundred customers in 5 different states.  Some of their notable customers include:  RiderUniversity, WestminsterCollege, Burger King, McDonald’s, Sonic, Wendy’s, Turkey Hill, TGI Fridays, Red Robin and Red Lobster.

As a proud sponsor of American Made Matters, K-Kleen only purchases from local suppliers, and uses 100% made in USA products on job sites.  In an industry where cheaper, foreign products can used to lower overhead cost, K-Kleen continues to buy American for the higher quality and to support local businesses.  Patrick Kennedy Jr., Executive Director of Marketing at K-Kleen, said “Sometimes we are forced to increase prices of our service in order to compensate for the higher price we pay for American made.” Competitors that go with foreign products because they are cheaper simply cannot match the quality that K-Kleen offers to their loyal customer base.

New Website and Expansion

K-Kleen has just launched a brand new website. An energized Patrick Kennedy Jr. proclaimed, “There will be Optimized Personal Accounts in which customers can log in and view before and after pictures of the work we most recently did in their facility, as well as, check outstanding balances owed and schedule another service.” The ability to perform these tasks online brings a whole new level of convenience and customer satisfaction.

In addition to providing a kitchen exhaust cleaning service, the experts at K-Kleen produce some of their own chemicals they use on the job. Consumers will soon be able to purchase all of the following items through their new site:  Kitchen Exhaust Grease Filters, SureGrip Floor Safety Solutions, Grease Gutter Grease Containment Systems, Commercial Bathroom Supplies, and K-Kleen’s own degreaser:  Kem4.  Each item has its own page on the site with a video featuring the product.

Retailing products online is a new business function for the K-Kleen team.  Products were previously offered to their service customers only, and have never been marketed toward a broad consumer base.  K-Kleen has begun to focus more on marketing their products in an effort to increase exposure and gain awareness of their top notch cleaning supplies.

With years of hard work and special attention to quality, Pat Kennedy Sr. is ready to capitalize on the opportunity to expand his business.  There is a plan in the works to have the K-Kleen name franchised in South Carolina by next winter.  This will also bring opportunities to service surrounding states and potentially double their geographical reach.

Starting at the bottom with a commitment to quality, and excellent service, K-Kleen has the perfect recipe to run a successful business while supporting local suppliers, right here in the USA.

Please visit K-Kleen’s brand new site:  http://k-kleen.com/

 

Changes in Manufacturing Technology Lead to Changes in Job Growth

As manufacturing starts to make a shift back to the US, demand for jobs in other fields of work are becoming more essential to the business process.  A whole multitude of jobs are needed to support the manufacturing process.  Companies need to provide operations like IT support, supply chain management, and database experts to effectively produce products, and get them to the consumer.  According to Pamela M. Prah, “This year, Ford is hiring 3,000 employees – 800 more than previously expected – of which 80 percent will be technical professionals.”

While Ford is hiring in-house technical employees, many companies choose not to hire for these support jobs and will instead outsource IT jobs to other American companies. This creates a demand for hundreds of jobs in the technology support and business solution industries.  Think of manufacturing as the lead car in a train, also known as the pilot car.  All the other cars are important and are needed to carry their portion of the load, but will remain still if there is no pilot to lead them.

Manufacturing and support jobs have an interdependent relationship. Support jobs cannot be created without manufacturing which provides a need for their services.  Effective use of technology allows companies to save money in areas like supply chain, training and waste reduction, while spending more money on skilled American workers.

Manufacturing statistics are not always the best indicator of today’s manufacturing comeback.  The key reason manufacturing is unlikely to return to the high numbers of jobs of past years is that the industry and its role in the US economy have changed.  “In steelmaking, for example, the 94,000 people working in the industry in 2012 produced 14 percent more steel than nearly 400,000 workers did in 1980, a government report shows.”

To summarize recent reports, while the number of manufacturing jobs remains flat, the number of support jobs is on a steady incline.  If manufacturing is the pilot car in the American job train, I think it’s safe to say these findings suggest we’re at a plateau, and the only way is up.  So all aboard America!

 

Supporting articles:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/07/30/us-manufacturing-comeback-stalling/2599059/

http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag31-33.htm

http://www.scdigest.com/ontarget/13-07-10-3.php?cid=7216&ctype=content

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-01/why-celebrate-a-false-u-s-manufacturing-renaissance-.html