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.

City of Schenectady, NY to Host Made in USA Event

American Made Matters is proud to announce a great American event, sponsored by our member, Tough Traveler and the City of Schenectady, NY.  The City, in conjunction with area stakeholders, will be hosting an important community event which includes the local debut of the “American Made Movie” followed by a panel discussion with influential state-wide and local economic development stakeholders. The panel discussion will be moderated by Jack Aernecke and will offer an opportunity for attendees to propose questions related  to the state of manufacturing in Schenectady and beyond.

American manufacturing employment has been on the decline for decades, unleashing a devastating effect on our local and national economies. Fortunately, people are making a difference by doing their part at a local level – supporting small businesses, buying from local craftsman instead of the big box stores, and purchasing Made in USA when possible. Americans can be inspired by individual and corporate efforts highlighted in the new critically acclaimed documentary, “American Made Movie.”

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Schenectady based YouthBuild program by providing a onetime scholarship for a program participant that plans on attending and enrolling in a Manufacturing Technology program at Schenectady County Community College.

For more information please contact Chad Putman at 518-225-0957 / chadputman1@yahoo.com

You can also follow the local, American Made Movement on Facebook at “American Made – Going Local”

 

Film screening:  6:30 pm

Panel Discussion:  8:00 pm

Rated G Film • Running Time:  82 min

Event Running Time:  Approximately 2.5 hours

Ticket Price:  $5

Slide1

 

Click here to watch the trailer for “American Made Movie.” 

Interested in hosting a movie screening in your home town? Help us spread the word about the importance of American manufacturing and get involved in the movement. Contact Rachel Highley, AMM Marketing Director – rhighley@bollmanhats.com.

American Made Matters 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway

American Made Matters will be hosting its second annual 12 Days of Christmas Giveaway beginning December 12 and ending December 23.  Don’t miss out on your chance to win prizes from great Made in USA brands!

12 Days - FB

Prizes include the following:

$50 gift card for Hats.com, Bollman Hat Company Floppy Hat and Urban Cowboy Hat from the Heritage Collection, AMM Caps, Hats, Tees and Christmas Ornaments, 12 can case of Citrol Oil from Schaeffer Oil, Promise Monsters Smarshmallows, Black & Denim Betsy Ross Tee shirt, The Perfect Wallet by Ball and Buck, $25 gift card for Zentek Clothing, Greenbow Pillows from NuAngel, and a $25 gift card for Golden Mag Products.

Check out our Facebook page for a complete list of daily prizes!

Click here to enter to win! 

American Made Matters Day Guide to Great American Savings!

AMM Day Logo_FB Cover

To kick-off the holiday shopping season, American Made Matters has declared November 19, 2013 the first annual American Made Matters Day. On this day, American Made Matters is encouraging consumers to buy at least one American-made product to show their support for American manufacturing.

We know that finding American made products can be difficult, but American Made Matters is making it easier. Check out the great sales and promotions our members are offering on November 19 and beyond, and join us in celebrating our first annual American Made Matters Day!

KIDS

Promise Monsters – Great gift for kids! Use coupon code AMERICAN at checkout to receive 20% off your total order. www.promisemonsters.com/shop.jsp
Bear Paw Creek – Use promo code AMMNOV19 for 15% off your entire order on Nov. 19. www.bearpawcreek.com/   KNEX
K’NEX - In honor of American Made Matters’ Day – ONE DAY SALE, Buy 1, get a second 1 FREE! Available on select K’NEX products. K’NEX bricks, rods and connectors are made in the U.S.A. Quantities limited while supplies last. See “1-Day Sale” on www.knex.com/Shop to find products!  Happy shopping!

 

APPAREL & ACCESSORIES

City Charm – Use coupon code AMM1113 at checkout to receive 10% off your total order Nov. 19 thru Nov. 30.  http://citycharmco.com/
Hats.com – 25% off at www.hats.com. Use coupon code AMMDAY at checkout to receive 25% off all made in USA hats and accessories on Nov. 19!
Andrew David – Use coupon code AMM at checkout to receive 50% off your order on Nov. 19. Excludes other promotions and gift certificates. www.shopandrewdavid.com
NoNetz – Use coupon code WE-LIKE-YOU at checkout to receive free shipping on Nov. 19. http://www.nonetz.com/
Dapper Classics – Use coupon code USA to receive 25% off your purchase on AMM Day, Nov. 19. http://www.dapperclassics.com/
J.W. Hulme Co. – Use coupon code COLNOV13 on Nov. 19 to receive $50 off a purchase of $400 or more at www.jwhulmeco.com or 1-800-442-8212. Offer good on orders placed by Nov. 30,2013. Not valid on previous purchases, exchanges, or returns.  One-time use.  One per customer.  Can not be combined with other offers.
Head ‘n Home Handmade Hats – Receive 40% off all hats from all brands at http://www.headnhome.com/.
Ball and Buck – Use coupon code AMMDAY15 at checkout to receive 15% off all online orders placed on Nov. 19.  Plus receive FREE shipping!  Visit http://ballandbuck.com
Bullet Blues – Use coupon code BB20 at checkout to receive 20% off any item on the site. 19. http://www.bulletbluesca.com/ Bullet Blues
Maven Fly – Use coupon code AMM20 at checkout to receive 20% off all sales on Nov. 19. http://www.mavenfly.com
Jack and Mary Designs – Use coupon code AMMDAY2013 at checkout to receive 15% off and free shipping. http://www.jackandmarydesigns.com/
Ribbed Tee – Use coupon code 24for48 and receive 24% off for 48 hours! Valid 11/19-11/20. Not valid on Classic Fit line or Clearance/Sale items. Shipping not included.  http://ribbedtee.com/
Tres-Femmes – Use coupon code AMM1119 at checkout and receive 15% off any online purchase on Nov. 19. www.tre-femmes.com
Loggerhead Apparel – Use coupon code AMM25 at checkout to receive 25% off all purchases made on Nov. 19!  www.loggerheadapparel.com
Todd Shelton USA – Use coupon code AMM at checkout and receive 25% off your order on Nov. 19! http://toddshelton.com/
Sounder Goods – Use coupon code AMM at checkout on Nov. 19 to receive 25% off your total purchase. www.soundergoods.com
Black and Denim- Black and Denim- Use coupon code AMMBND at checkout to receive 20% off all orders placed on Nov. 19. Visit http://black-denim-apparel-company.myshopify.com/ Print
Bodacious Cases- Bodacious Cases- Use coupon code AMMDay at checkout to receive 25% off all orders! Visit http://bodaciouscases.com/
Twisted Cow – Use coupon code AMM at checkout and receive 15% off your total order on Nov. 19. http://www.twisted-cow.com

MISCELLANEOUS

Made in America Expo – You still have time to reserve a booth at the Fort Worth, TX Made in American Expo taking place in May, 2014. Receive 19% off of all Expo services when you reserve your spot on Nov. 19!  Click here for more information:  http://madeintheusaexpo.com/american-made-matters-special-promotion
White Starfish – Use coupon code BUYUSA at checkout and save 15% off your entire order on Nov. 19! www.thewhitestarfish.com
Independence LED – Use coupon code AmericanMadeMatters at checkout to replace 400 Watt Metal Halide High Bays with 116 Watt or 174 Watt LED Fixtures at dramatically discounted wholesale prices.  20% Discounted cost starts at $295, and the annual savings is often over $200 per fixture per year. Plus REBATES are available to bring the payback to under 1 Year. www.IndependenceLED.com
CPA – Use coupon code USAProspers for 20% off all orders placed Nov. 18- Nov. 20. https://www.cpabuyamerican.com/
Christmas Forest – On Nov. 19 the Stars & Stripes holiday wreath will be on sale for $36 including free ground shipping to 48 states.  http://www.christmasforest.com/christmas-wreaths/stars-and-stripes   Christmas Forest
Metal Shop CT – On Nov. 19 all Metal Shop Bottle Opener Products will be 5% to $10 off and engraving will be free for our Brass Cigar Stand. No coupon code necessary. http://metalshopct.com/
Footmate Systems – In support of American Made Matters Day, Gordon Brush will offer 19% off of the sale of all Footmate® System products purchased on November 19, 2013, from the Footmate website, www.footmate.com, with a minimum order of $39.95.  Use promo code NOV19.
Tough Traveler – On AMM Day receive a FREE Tough Traveler Pencil Pouch with any purchase, online or in store!  Visit http://www.toughtraveler.com/
Polar Bottle – On AMM Day all American themed Polar Bottles will be half off! Use promo code AMM13. Limit four per order. Visit http://www.polarbottle.com/
High Sierra Showerheads – Use coupon code NIRVANA to receive 12.5% off the purchase price for an online order of one or two high efficiency shower heads or high efficiency handheld showers from our website (handheld not available with hose and holder).   www.highsierrashowerheads.com
NoCargo – Receive free shipping on orders over $100 – no coupon code needed! http://www.shopnocargo.com/
OHSAY USA – Use coupon code AMMDAY and receive FREE SHIPPING on Nov. 19. http://www.ohsayusa.com
Carlisle Machine Works – 20% off classes at the School of Glass Art.  http://carlislemachine.com/

Carlisle Glass Classes

AMM Members Support Veteran’s Charities

Jon Fontane, owner of Metal Shop CT, an AMM member company, has a mission this Veteran’s Day.  That mission is simple, that none of our soldiers past or present feels forgotten.  All too often, veterans with PTSD or other life altering injuries feel like they’re alone in their battles and statistics show that 22 veterans commit suicide each day.  Jon Fontane and American Made Matters want to bring that number to zero.

Organizations like Wounded Warrior Project, The 296 Project and Warrior Canine Connection are making sure that none of our soldiers feels forgotten or alone in their struggles. Their mission is to foster a successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members who can regain control of their lives and become contributing members of society.

Warrior Canine Connection is a unique charity that uses puppies to rehabilitate soldiers with PTSD. “Training a service dog for a fellow Veteran provides a valuable opportunity for a Warrior suffering from psychological injuries to reintegrate into civilian life. As part of his or her training, Warriors have the responsibility to teach the dogs that the world is a safe place. Through that process, they must convince themselves of the same.”

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You can help us support our wounded warriors and all of America’s fighting men and woman today and throughout the year by shopping some great made in USA brands that donate a portion of their sales to veteran’s charities. Check out the list below to support the organization of your choice!

Metal Shop - www.metalshopct.com
Donation – $5 on Mini Pop and Key Shackle, $10 on Twist and Cigar Stand
Duration – Nov 11th to Nov. 30th
Charities – The 296 Project and Warrior Canine Connection

Newton Grade Sturdy Goods - www.etsy.com/shop/NewtonGrade
Donation – 10% of all sales
Duration – Nov 11th to Nov 15th
Donation to Warrior Canine Connection

L.I. Sounder - www.lisounder.com
Donation – $10 of every purchase
Duration – Nov 11th to Nov 15
Donation to Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund

Jack Donnelly - www.jackdonnelly.com
Donation – $10 of all Sales
Duration – Nov 11th
Donation to Hope for Warriors

The FootMate™ System - www.footmate.com
Donation – 10% of all sales
Duration – Nov. 11th
Donation to Wounded Warrior Project

Warrior Shop - www.thewarriorshop.co
Donation – 30% on every sale 365 days a year!
Charities – Warrior Dog Foundation and Project Healing Waters

Salute American Vodka - www.saluteamerican.com
Donation – $1 of every bottle. 365 days a year!
Charities – Work Vessels for Veterans, Farmer Veteran Coalition, Purple Heart Homes, Birdies for the Brave, Homes for our Troops and Honor Flight of Greater St. Louis

American Made Matters® Welcomes Its 200th Member, Doubles Membership in Past Year

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ADAMSTOWN, P.A. – American Made Matters®, an organization dedicated to educating consumers on the importance of buying American-made products, reached the 200-member mark this past week. The latest members—including Dickies 1922, Rethink Robotics and Jensen Apparel—join a group of manufacturing companies committed to making goods in the United States (U.S.) Member companies are located across the U.S. and manufacture everything from apparel and home goods to toys and machinery.

“We have doubled our membership in the past year,” said Don Rongione, president and founder of American Made Matters®. “This is a testament to the strength of the American-made movement, and we are excited to be at the forefront.” Companies can become members of American Made Matters® by paying just $99 a year, which gives them permission to use the American Made Matters® logo on products for which at least 50 percent of the product’s cost (labor, materials and overhead) is incurred in the U.S., and the final assembly takes place in the U.S.

American Made Matters® provides social media attention for its members and brand exposure at various trade shows. This past weekend, American Made Matters® was a sponsor and attendee of the American Field Pop-Up Market in Boston, an annual event featuring American craftsman and fashion brands like Ball and Buck, the trade show’s founding company and American Made Matters® member. “It is our goal for American Made Matters® to become a center for consumers trying to find American-made goods,” said Rongione. “By promoting our member companies, we are making it easier for consumers to buy American.”

American Made Matters® has recently declared November 19th as American Made Matters Day. On this day, American Made Matters® is encouraging consumers to buy at least one American-made product to show their support for American manufacturing. Additionally, the event will kick-off a movement encouraging Americans to buy products made in America throughout the holiday shopping season.

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. It has 200 member companies in a variety of industries. For more information, visit http://www.americanmadematters.com/index.php, or like them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanMadeMatters.

Media Contact:
Camille Dager or Madeleine Tardif
Harris, Baio & McCullough for American Made Matters
camille@hbmadv.com or madeleine@hbmadv.com

 

Member Profile: Yamie Chess

Yamie Chess

 

Company Name & Location:
Yamie Chess Ltd. Las Vegas, Nevada

Number of US based employees:
10+ AND our partners at EPI Printers, Inc (where Yamie Chess is domestically manufactured in Michigan) who employ over 400 people + in Michigan and Indiana. Yamie Chess works with a U.S. chess champion and math /science advisors who come from the following universities: Princeton, MIT, Stanford, University of California Berkeley, Vanderbilt, University of Louisville, University of Arizona and Caltech.

Years in Business:
(Incorporated in Nevada in November 2012.) We are officially launching for K-8 math education simultaneously at the American International Toy Fair in New York City on 16th February 2014 and the NSSEA Ed EXPO in Dallas, TX in March 2014.

Family-Owned/Employee-Owned/Publicly Held:
Employee-Owned

Principal line of business:
K-8 educational math learning aids and educational animation for STEM learning. Yamie Chess Ltd’s goal is to get K-8 students across America equipped for math learning through classic chess, so that by age 13, most elementary and middle schoolers will have a realistic prospect of a math related career at college, i.e. math, physics, chemistry, computer science or engineering.

Social Media information:
Pre-launch website: https://www.yamiechess.com  (Official website is launching in October/November 2013)

http://www.facebook.com/yamiechess
http://www.twitter.com/yamiechess
https://plus.google.com/112570117711554971255/posts

Why does American Made Matter to you? 
Yamie Chess Ltd is an American business; and as corporate citizens we feel a strong responsibility and commitment to the community. The democracy and freedom of our way of life as Americans depends in a very real way on a thriving economy and investment in our country’s resources and the next generation of companies following our lead to invest in America on every level. Keeping jobs at home, domestic manufacturing and the passion and hard work of the people who make up the backbone of our country – the unsung heroes who go to work every day and build America from the grassroots – this is what makes America great – their participation in our society of which we all share the benefits is what makes our way of life possible. It is a no brainer that Yamie Chess MUST be manufactured in America – we love America too much and although it has been challenging, we have found a way to profitably manufacture domestically by partnering with EPI Printers Inc, an ISO 9001:2008 manufacturer in Michigan who has been in business since 1959:  http://www.epiinc.com/about-epi.aspx

What values drive your business decisions?
Education, innovation and the exciting possibility of getting a generation of kids across America into math, and taking up math careers. Yamie Chess is an investment in education. If Yamie Chess can succeed on our educational mission over the next 10 years and make the class of 2025 the most employable students to ever graduate the American public school system, we stand the chance of raising U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by $1 trillion dollars in income per year, evidenced by figures released in Harvard University’s Kennedy School report of August 2011, “Globally Challenged: Are U. S. Students Ready to Compete?

Has your company won any awards recently?
Yes, Yamie Chess Ltd’s first debut animation, King Tigermore In Strawberry Fields, which is shown on our pre-launch website (https://www.yamiechess.com), designed purely to introduce our cartoon chess characters to children, has won the Canada International Film Festival’s Royal Reel Award in Animation, won the Honolulu Film Award’s Aloha Accolade in animation and won official selection to over 50+ major US film festivals including the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD, Coca-Cola’s Beverly Hills Film Festival, Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s Gasparilla Film Festival in Tampa, and the 22nd Arizona International Film Festival which is a grant recipient of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the Oscars!) and sponsored by the University of Arizona and NBC Comcast. Yamie Chess was one of only 4 children’s productions to win selection to the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City (Fear No Film Kids Age 3 and Up) sponsored by Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola, Budweiser, Chrysler and Verizon. The full list of the international and national awards (including judges’ panel statements) will be published on the Yamie Chess website at https://www.yamiechess.com/animation in the next 2 months when our official website launches.

What advice would you give to a start-up business that plans to manufacture/source/etc. in the USA?
We don’t like giving advice because we don’t want to be seen as telling anyone what to do (especially as we haven’t launched yet!) however, a suggestion we’ve found agreement on with other start-ups looking to move forward with U.S. manufacturing is to do tons of research like Yamie Chess has done and be broad thinking in looking for an established and reputable American manufacturing partner to team up with, even if you have to look to other states, and even if what you’re looking to produce isn’t your intended partner’s core business.

For example, Yamie Chess is in Nevada, and we found EPI Printers (who are based in Michigan and Indiana) because they handle the entire offset printing workload of the University of Michigan’s academic faculty (they didn’t make educational math products before!) – so we reached out to our midwest colleagues, and they liked what we were doing, and together we agreed to partner to produce Yamie Chess’s range of math learning aids that will launch in six months time at New York Toy Fair 2014. With EPI Printers Inc’s help, Yamie Chess will supplement math and science education across America through classic chess, being useful for not just for classroom work in school, but also America’s homeschooling community.

How are you using the AMM logo on products, website or marketing materials? 
Used on the official website, first math learning aid product, press releases, marketing materials at Toy Fair, National Education Association in Denver, National Science Teachers Association in Boston, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in New Orleans, San Diego Comic Con, Ed Expo in Dallas, American Specialty Toy Retailing Association in Phoenix, Arizona, National Association for the Education of Young Children in Atlanta.

What are the benefits for your company of manufacturing in the USA?
When we compare the ease of doing business in America and the technical excellence of U.S. craftsmanship with product engineering against the HUGE costs of importing, international shipping and the serious risks, dangers and legal complexities of dealing with Far Eastern countries like China and Taiwan (particularly in the educational toy industry where child safety is a massive concern), before we even get round to the patriotic aspects which are substantial, it makes no economic sense for a new U.S. small business like Yamie Chess Ltd to be dealing with outside the USA from a manufacturing standpoint.

How do you balance US and foreign manufacturing for your company?

  • 98% of materials for Yamie Chess are sourced from heartland America, with our ISO-9001:2008 certified American manufacturing partner, EPI Printers Inc. Yamie Chess is physically manufactured in Battle Creek, Michigan, in an FSC® Chain-of-custody (CoC) certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (EPI is under the organizational brand “EPI Marketing Services” (FSC License Code: FSC-C022187), and EPI operates a number of ecologically friendly practices.
  • All Yamie Chess®’s chipboard is made from at least 40% recycled material, so Yamie Chess®’s educational chessboard, box and packaging is green and from sourced entirely on American soil!
  • The Yamie Chess® K-8 math comic only uses officially FSC® certified paper and print production from American forests.
  • All scrap paper created during Yamie Chess®’s manufacturing is recycled inside America.
  • All scrap plastic created during Yamie Chess®’s manufacturing is recycled inside America.
  • Yamie Chess® uses vegetable-based American inks.
  • Our American manufacturing partner, EPI Printer Inc’s FSC® Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certificate is based on the company being able to account for and track all wood fibers that are used in the different production stages of the Yamie Chess® manufacturing process from the forest to the mill, to the paper and finally to the finished Yamie Chess® sets made in Battle Creek, Michigan.
  • In terms of fair labor practices, both Yamie Chess Ltd and our partners EPI Printers Inc’s employees are fairly compensated, full-time employees who have complete family health care available.

Do you have any future expansion plans?
Yes, as well as bringing out the rest in the K-8 math series of physical learning aids that are Made in America for supplementary math and STEM education; Yamie Chess will also be doing an animation series for K-8 math education, as well as doing video math games and mobile apps based on our classic chess characters (who all correspond to the classic chessmen on the board) – Yamie Chess’s education work aims to raise standards and improve learning outcomes for math education in the classroom, supporting STEM learning with math hinged on a classic chess framework. Yamie Chess will also be launching an after-school club program for supplementary math education that will run in U.S. elementary and middle schools.

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.

 

 

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/