Member Profile Feature: K’NEX

Member Profile Blog Banner KNEX logo

Company: K’NEX Brands

Location: Hatfield, PA

Website Address:  www.knex.com

Principal Line of Business: Manufacturer and Distributor of Construction Toys

Year Founded: 1992

US Based Employees: 200

Social Media Links:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/buildknex

YouTube: www.youtube.com/knexteam

Twitter: @knex

Instagram: @knexbrands

Pinterest: @knexbrands

 

What is your Company’s Mission Statement?

K’NEX® is the next generation of construction sets. It inspires creativity, builds self-confidence and encourages interaction among children and parents. The possibilities are endless!

Founded in 1992, K’NEX Brands, the world’s most innovative construction toy company, was established to make and sell what has become one of the most integrated construction systems for children, and is America’s STEM building solution. Winner of over 250 international awards and recognitions, K’NEX, America’s Building Toy® company, is focused on Building Worlds Kids Love® and encourages youngsters to “imagine, build and play.” From the living room to the classroom, K’NEX has building toys specially designed for every age group and skill level. The K’NEX family of brands includes K’NEX Building Sets, K’NEX Thrill Rides, K’NEX Education™, Lincoln Logs®, Tinkertoy®, NASCAR®, Angry Birds™, Mario Kart Wii™, Mario Kart 7™, Super Mario™, PacMan™, Titanfall™, Family Guy™, Plants vs. Zombies™, and more. Since 1992, The Rodon Group®, a subsidiary of K’NEX Brands, L.P., has manufactured over 31 billion parts for the K’NEX building toy system. Join us as we help build the leaders of tomorrow. For more information, please visit www.knex.com or www.rodongroup.com.

Why Does American Made Matter to You?

At K’NEX, we’ve learned that the more items we are able to manufacture at home, the more people we can employ. If every American were to spend just $64 a year on things Made in the USA, 200,000 new jobs would be created. Spending our dollars on Made in the USA goods enables our whole economy to get stronger and with that our whole country becomes stronger. You just have to take that extra second and look at the label. Together, we can build a better America.

What Values Drive your Business Decisions?

Founded in 1992 K’NEX has always been committed to manufacturing in the United States—over 90% of its parts are manufactured by The Rodon Group. In business since 1956, the Rodon Group makes billions of parts each year in its 125,000 square foot eco-friendly facility and is one of the largest family-owned and operated injection molders in the United States. We’ve learned that manufacturing in America can actually be more cost effective than manufacturing overseas. Our nation was founded on an entrepreneurial spirit, we have the ability to shape our own growth by inventing and making everything we use. Continuing to shed our manufacturing base is akin to trying to run a race without running shoes – you can do it, but you are at a tremendous disadvantage.

What Advice Would you Give to a Start-up Business that Plans to Manufacture in the USA?

K’NEX President and CEO, Michael Araten, offers this advice, “First, ask a lot of questions about what is working, what’s not and get everyone’s opinion on why that is. A key part of any CEO’s job is to assess the people they’ve got and then assess the information you are getting. You then need to weigh your options based on what you think has the most credibility and gain a sense of where you are.

Next, look at the marketplace and decide what you can do to gain more of a market share. I believe that you either grow or you die. Identify your competencies. At K’NEX, we define a core competency as something that we don’t want anyone else to have or would take a lot of time and money for someone else to copy. Once your competencies are identified, evaluate the avenues that are open for growth, then the X factor is who you bring into the room for that process.

Some people say that when you get more than six people in a room, things start to breakdown, but I believe more heads are better than one. You need all disciplines represented because if you don’t, someone’s not doing checks and balances of keeping you honest in what you’re trying to accomplish.

At K’NEX & Rodon we involved people from every major discipline in our discussions and we encouraged them to share our findings with their groups on a departmental level.

They came back and said, “We shared this at our team meetings last week, and we got some other things where they thought, yep, we agree with a lot of this, but here are some things we think you can focus on more or we think you missed.” Ultimately we involved about 80% of the company in some way.”

What are the Benefits of Manufacturing in the USA for your Company?

“The keys to the success of American manufacturing are abundant energy, consumers who can easily recognize that products they love are made in the USA, and STEM education. STEM is the heart of innovation and innovation drives growth, profit and jobs of the future. K’NEX and Rodon work actively with local community colleges and technical schools to ensure that students graduate with the skills they need to work at companies like ours. And through the K’NEX Education line, we are providing teachers with a complete STEM solution, enabling them to teach critical concepts in sequence and demonstrate real world applications.”

Why did you join American Made Matters?

Michael Araten says, “Since the Great Recession, I have been driven to do all I can to make American manufacturing as strong as possible. It is why we are founding members of American made matters; why I speak regularly on the topic through the Philadelphia and Bucks county chambers of commerce; why I accepted the nomination to the council of economic advisors for the Philly federal reserve bank; and why we work relentlessly to make products here in the USA.”

MichaelAraten2

 

 

 

 

(Michael Araten, President & CEO of K’NEX)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information on K’NEX, visit their website or watch their video here.

Member Profile Feature: Bollman Hat Company

Member Profile Blog Banner

Bollman Logo_682

Company: Bollman Hat Company

Location: Adamstown, Pennsylvania

Website Address: www.bollmanhats.com

Principal Line of Business: Headwear

Year Founded: 1868

US Based Employees: 223

Social Media Links:

Facebook – Bollman Hat Company

What is your Company’s Mission Statement?

The mission of Bollman Hat Company is to increase shareholder value and to provide growth opportunities to its employee-owners by profitably building headwear and accessory brands that capture customer loyalty and selling the highest quality products in targeted markets throughout the world.

Why Does American Made Matter to You?

Making product in America creates more jobs, communities, safety, independence, security, environment, and a better economy for our country. As America’s oldest hat maker, Bollman has nearly 150 years of heritage in American manufacturing. Bollman has provided jobs for tens of thousands of families and opportunities for a better life.

What Values Drive your Business Decisions?

The core value of Bollman Hat Company is to exercise effective stewardship over the heritage and assets that have been handed down from past generations. To do this our people will pioneer change by listening, thinking and acting with integrity for the long term. We will achieve excellence by taking ownership, supporting our teammates, giving more than we take and treating others fairly. Our corporate values guide all our behavior, business decisions, relationships and strategic direction.

What Advice Would you Give to a Start-up Business that Plans to Manufacture in the USA?

Find people who are passionate about what they make and willing to make personal sacrifices to get launched. Stay focused on quality, innovation and remaining true to your values. Tell your story about why American Made Matters!

What are the Benefits of Manufacturing in the USA for your Company?

Unsurpassed quality, control of innovation and speed to market are three benefits of U.S. manufacturing. Other benefits include smaller minimum order quantities, greater control of proprietary processes, and greater assurance of timely delivery.

Do you have any Future Expansion Plans?

We are expanding into new global markets and once again building our U.S. manufacturing following years of painful decline.

Is your Company Currently Offering any Promotions/Discounts?

Use coupon code AMM15 to get 15% off any USA made hat on hats.com.                      Valid through 8/31/14

Why did you join American Made Matters?

Our President and CEO, Don Rongione, experienced the tragic decline of American manufacturing first hand when loss of major customers to foreign competition forced us to lay off more than 100 U.S. manufacturing employees. It was this experience that led him to found American Made Matters (AMM), an organization dedicated to educating consumers on just how important American manufacturing is to our country. Today, AMM has close to 300 members in 43 states. Bollman is the home of American Made Matters.

A Message from the President: Calling for AMM Ambassadors

Dear Friends of the American Made Movement,

The American Made movement continues to grow as evidenced by American Made Matters’ membership growth to 280 in 43 states. We are making a difference and our work must continue. To expand our reach, we will need more American Made Matters ambassadors.

While U.S. unemployment numbers have dropped from 9.4% to 6.3% (manufacturing unemployment alone dropping from 12.6% to 5.3%) (1)  in the last 5 years (2) , we cannot become complacent in our awareness that American made matters and we need to continue to look at what we buy and choose American made when possible.

China may surpass the USA as the world’s largest economy this year according to the World Bank’s International Comparison Project (3). The USA has held the top spot for more than 140 years. The loss of the number one position after so many years is a testament to our lost wealth which relates directly to our diminished manufacturing base, huge trade deficits and dependence on China for so much of our goods.

Americans are buying more U.S. made products (4). More American and foreign companies are beginning production in the U.S. and companies are returning some or all of their manufacturing to the U.S. Yet many still struggle to compete.

American Made Matters has lost some members who have gone out of business and others have found it difficult to survive.

An economy without a strong manufacturing base will struggle to retain its wealth and to create jobs and opportunities for a better future.  Loss of manufacturing means loss of independence, increased product safety concerns, weaker local communities and more citizens in need. We cannot rely on our government for the solution.  We take control of our future with each purchase.

As we approach our fifth anniversary on July 4th, we want to expand our reach. Join us on November 19, 2014 as we make American Made Matters Day a national event to educate Americans that purchasing U.S. made products strengthens the American dream.

We are looking for ambassadors who can devote some time to find a venue in their community and show our new video which will tell the many reasons why American Made Matters.  These events will not only raise awareness, but become a celebration of the craftsmanship and ingenuity of American Made.  We look to create events to include not just education but also food, music and the opportunity to buy American product and support local crafts makers and producers. Schools, libraries, community centers, factories, stores and social gathering places will be ideal venues. We will provide the press release, AMM branded materials to give away and AMM education literature. Our ambassadors will receive an AMM t-shirt, ball cap and Shaw pen. Please become an American Made Matters ambassador and help us extend our reach and impact. We can make an even larger impact and stop plant closures and protect and create jobs and opportunities. We can make a difference!

Sincerely,
Don Rongione
Founder and President
American Made Matters®


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics (Manufacturing Unemployment Rate) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNU04032232?data_tool=XGtable
2. Bureau of Labor Statistics (U.S. Unemployment Rate) http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS14000000 ;
3. The World Bank’s International Comparison Project (ICP) http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/03/china-worlds-largest-economy_n_5255825.html ;
4. “Made in the USA: More Consumers Buying American” http://www.cnbc.com/id/100519468

Don Rongione

American Made Matters® and L&H Companies to Unveil “Home of American Made Matters” Sign

American Made Matters® prepares to celebrate its 5th anniversary with the unveiling of L&H Companies’ original “Home of American Made Matters” at the Bollman Hat Company in Adamstown, PA.

American Made Matters® (AMM) was founded by Don Rongione in 2009. As CEO of Bollman Hat Company, Rongione experienced the tragic decline of American manufacturing first hand when loss of major customers to foreign competition forced him to lay off 100 U.S. manufacturing employees. It was this experience that led Rongione to create an organization dedicated to educating consumers on just how important American manufacturing is to our country. With the help of a handful of U.S. manufacturers, AMM was born.

L&H Companies joined the AMM movement in February of 2013. CEO, Chris Heinly says “We are proud to be a part of American Made Matters. Making and donating this sign is one way that our L&H employees demonstrated our pride.”

Since its inception in 2009, AMM has grown into an organization of over 270 members and sponsors in 43 states. Members are manufacturers who represent various industries from apparel and toys to steel fabrication and cleaning supplies. Sponsors include American made retailers, patriotic organizations, and service providers who support U.S. manufacturing and its impact on jobs, stronger communities, independence and security of the U.S. and product safety. Additionally, AMM is a resource for consumers looking to find American made goods as well as a resource for its members and sponsors to find suppliers and customers.

AMM had its inaugural American Made Matters Day on November 19, 2013. On this day, AMM is encouraging consumers to buy at least one American-made product to show their support for American manufacturing. The Pennsylvania House of Representatives has recognized November 19 as American Made Matters Day. Plans are underway to make this year’s AMM Day a national event by reaching out to members across the country to hold events in various states throughout the U.S.

“We are at the forefront of a movement and gaining momentum. This sign outside America’s oldest hat factory will be a great symbol of the importance of manufacturing for America’s future” said Rongione. Rongione and Heinly will be unveiling the new sign stating “Home of American Made Matters” on May 28, 10:30am at 110 East Main Street, Adamstown PA.

About American Made Matters®: American Made Matters® was launched on July 4, 2009 by the Bollman Hat Company, America’s oldest hat manufacturer. It is the only organization committed to promoting American-made goods that is run by manufacturers. For more information, visit http://www.americanmadematters.com/index.php, or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanMadeMatters.

About L&H Companies: L&H Sign Company, Inc. has been a leading provider of quality architectural sign products for over 21 years. With approximately 63,500 square feet of manufacturing space at our headquarters in Reading, PA, they have the resources to create virtually anything from a simple merchant sign to the most complex way finding system, with ease. For more information, visit http://www.lhsigns.com/, or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/LH-Companies/359176690783671.

American Made Matters Memorial Day Promotion

We want to celebrate this Memorial Day with an American Made Matters® Memorial Day promotion!

Click here to view the details on the event and how you can win an American Made Matters® prize package!

Prizes include:

APPAREL & ACCESSORIES:
AMM t-shirt (S,M,L,XL,XXL)
Undershirt Pack from Ribbed Tee
STUCK Boxer Briefs from Ribbed Tee
Socks from Ribbed Tee
5 pairs of Socks
Red Jungle Bird Aloha Shirt from US Wings
Apparel from Bullet Blues
Aviator Sunglasses from US Wings
AMM Lapel Pin

TOYS:
K’Nex Big Value Toy Tub
Unbreakoball (Dog Toy)

TOOLS/HARDWARE:
Set of LED Spikes from Bulldog LED Lighting
Knife Sharpener w/ Leather Sheath from Tony’s Sharpener
AMM Pen
Shaw Pen

BEAUTY/FOOT CARE:
Footmate System
Topricin Products

HOME ACCESSORIES:
AMM Window Cling
Koozie from Ole Mason Jar
Coaster from Ole Mason Jar
Pint Sleeve from Ole Mason Jar
AMM Key Chain

HEADWEAR:
AMM Baseball Cap
AMM LiteFelt Hat (Fedora, Cowboy, Trilby or Stingy Brim)
$25 Hats.com Gift Certificate
Gift Certificate for Watson’s Hat Shop
Da Nang Cap from US Wings

 

Memorial Day

American Made Matters featured in Be A Part Movement

We are thrilled to be featured in beapartmovement.org. A website that ”shares the stories of people and organizations who are doing their part to further the Buy American/Buy Local message and informs the public of how they can BE A PART of the movement as well.” 

Click the link below to view the article.

http://beapartmovement.org/story/american-made-matters/

Ralph Lauren Creates USA Made Uniforms for the Olympics

We cheer on our USA team as we currently hold the most medals for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Our goal at American Made Matters for the Olympics was to provide resources to have the apparel for the athletes made in the USA. For the 2012 Summer Olympics, we sent a letter to Ralph Lauren after the public outcry regarding the uniforms being made overseas. This letter’s purpose was to offer our support for creating the apparel in the USA. We offered to provide Ralph Lauren with our members’ resources to coordinate all their designs in America. Here is the letter that we sent:

Dear Ralph Lauren,

We, the members of American Made Matters, feel strongly that our Olympians should be outfitted with American made apparel and accessories. We have over seventy* members who are still producing product in the U.S. and are proud to provide jobs in our communities and the highest quality product for our customers. We stand ready to work with your designers to produce any product needed to support our U.S. Olympic team including the outfit for the opening and closing ceremony.

We have members who can produce hats, shirts, jackets, bags, belts, pants, socks, and footwear. Our employees would be proud to know that their work would be supporting our athletes and on display for the world to see.

Please advise us on the next steps in working to create a 100% U.S. made outfit for our athletes.

Sincerely,

Don Rongione
President
American Made Matters

While Ralph Lauren did not take us up on our offer, they did respond positively by having the opening and closing ceremony uniforms made in the USA. We are happy that Ralph Lauren made the decision to help grow the American economy by having these uniforms made in the States. Best of luck to the USA Team as they go for the gold and finish strong in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics!

Click the photo below to learn more about the USA made uniforms.

Olympic Uniform

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*We now have over 250 members.