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/

 

L&H Talks New Patient Care Signs

Company Profile:

L&H Sign Company, proud member of American Made Matters was started in 1992 and only had one full time and one part time employee.  21 years later they have about 46 employees and are leader in quality architectural sign products. They use a vertical process, starting with raw materials and seeing the project through to instillation.  Eight different departments have a hand in each project L&H works on.  These departments include:  Project management, design, fabrication, installation, and more.  This wide range of skilled employees allows L&H to create, manufacture and install award winning signage for clients.  You can see L&H’s work in sports venues, banks, healthcare facilities, corporate offices, retail stores, and much more.

Patient Care Signs from L&H

During a recent sit-down with Bob McClennan of L&H signs, we were able to learn about one of their newest and most successful projects. The project involves creating new and improved signage for hospitals and other healthcare facilities.  L&H’s signs are designed to improve communication between doctors, nurses and patients by using a specialized patient sign located right outside the hospital room door.  Unlike typical signs that are only posted to list a room number, L&H’s patient signs have a variety of slide-out options to alert doctors or nurses of a patient’s condition.  For example a physician can look at the sign prior to entering the room and know that a patient is prone to seizures or has allergies.

“One of the keys to reducing medical mistakes is improving and standardizing communication. Patients are more likely to score a hospital and its staff highly if the caregivers are knowledgeable about their medical conditions,” said Bob McClennan.

“Doctors need to be able to walk into a room with knowledge of the patient, in order to minimize mistakes and give the patient the best experience possible.”

All of these issues were considered in L&H’s project design process.  By using an evidence based design, they worked with doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to develop the new patient care signs.  The prototyping of these signs took roughly 12 to 18 months but in the end L&H has unveiled a product that is simple to use and solves many of the communications errors doctors and nurses face each day.

L&H’s patient care signs are in their sixth generation and are now injection mold friendly.  Using an injection mold helps cut down manufacturing time from roughly 6 weeks to 2 weeks.  Thanks in part to this technology, L&H is able to produce more patient care signs in less time, right here in the United States.

The customization options L&H offers have been a huge selling point for their patient care signs. The signs are currently in 45 hospitals and will be found in over 100 hospitals within the next year

http://www.lhsigns.com/featured-new/

L&H

Rodon Group Hosts Congressman Fitzpatrick for Press Conference Regarding the Made in America Act of 2013

Last week one of our members, the Rodon Group, hosted Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick for a press conference discussing the new bill – The Made in America Act of 2013.  The bill will create the American Star Program which will raise consumer awareness of American made products.

“Similar to the Energy Star Program, this voluntary labeling program has several goals. First, the new labeling would provide consumers an easy way to identify American made products.  Second, manufacturers would be encouraged to meet certain American manufacturing benchmarks, showing the percentage of the product made in the U.S.A.” (Paula Hynes).

This bill could have a huge impact on our economy and perhaps change the way Americans shop.

We are very proud to have Rodon Group as an American Made Matters member, and congratulate them on hosting Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick.  To read the whole article, click here:

http://www.wfmz.com/news/congressman-introduces-legislation-to-promote-american-made-products/-/121458/20961692/-/qjtsrqz/-/index.html

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Rodon Group CEO Michael Araten

Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick and Rodon Group CEO Michael Araten

Todd Shelton – An American Story

 “After several years of operating the Todd Shelton brand using the same production model as every other fashion brand (design garments and find a factory to make them), we questioned our direction.  Then made the biggest decision we’ve ever made.  We built a factory.”

-Todd Shelton

In an effort to avoid future supply chain problems, Todd Shelton decided to enter the manufacturing business and build a factory.  The brand formerly outsourced their manufacturing to other US factories which brought some issues with supply and quality control.

By opening a new factory, the Todd Shelton brand is creating jobs and starting a new history and tradition of manufacturing.  Of course, the best part of it all is that they are building their factory right here in the United States!

What started as a business decision to solve a problem has turned into a way for the Todd Shelton brand to further it’s passion and creativity.  “Made in USA” has become a staple of the brand’s identity. This three part series allows us to witness a true American brand building a new foundation while continuing to uphold its original ideals. Read their story of passion and ingenuity by clicking on the links below.

http://toddshelton.com/blog/the-company/we-built-a-factory-part-1
http://toddshelton.com/blog/the-company/we-built-a-factory-part-2
http://toddshelton.com/blog/the-company/we-built-a-factory-part-3

Member News: Stormy Kromer Launches Video Series

Stormy Kromer is an American brand that continues to produce here in the USA.  Throughout their history, they have employed Americans and created a product that they take much pride in. The videos below show Stormy Kromer’s American story.  In an industry that has shipped countless jobs over seas, Stormy Kromer’s commitment to US manufacturing represents the passion and craftsmanship that they strive for every day.

https://vimeo.com/69100929
https://vimeo.com/69094926
https://vimeo.com/69058296

American Made Matters and Bollman Hat Company Featured on PhillyBurb.com

Recently a reporter from PhillyBurb.com sat down with Bollman Hat Company President and CEO, Don Rongione, to discuss why American-made matters.  In the interview, Rongione explains why he founded American Made Matters, the organization, and what he’s been doing to encourage consumers to “buy American” again.

Click here to read the full article:

http://www.phillyburbs.com/news/local/made-in-usa/nation-s-oldest-hat-company-says-american-made-matters/article_01164a99-d01c-509f-b19d-faae792560fb.html

AMERICAN MADE MATTERS® BREAKS ONE HUNDRED FIFTY MEMBER COMPANIES AND RELEASES VIDEO.

The American made movement continues to gain momentum and American Made Matters® (AMM) is at the forefront! AMM, founded July 4, 2009, has elevated awareness among consumers about the compelling importance of buying US-made products. The organization tripled its membership in the past year eclipsing one hundred and fifty companies representing thirty seven states. A three minute video which has received high praise has just been released.

Launched by America’s oldest hat manufacturer, Bollman Hat Company, AMM is run by a board comprised of manufacturers who share a vision to grow jobs in the US as well as strengthen communities, protect the environment, build the economy and improve the independence and security of America.

A video narrated by Bollman CEO, Don Rongione, and filmed by AMM sponsor, West Field Films, has just been released to facilitate the mission of educating consumers on why American made matters. The video can be viewed at the organization’s website, www.AmericanMadeMatters.com.

“It is really exciting to see new companies create brands dedicated to American made and mature companies bringing back manufacturing to the US. We are making a difference. It is demonstrated by the increase in manufacturing jobs,” said Rongione.

The AMM logo now appears on tens of thousands of products. The organization has an active and growing following of over twenty thousand in social media and subscribers to its newsletter. On-line and physical events promoting American made products, encouraging plant tours and an ecommerce store featuring products that contain the AMM logo all serve to help strengthen the organization’s mission which is to educate consumers that buying US-made products strengthens the American dream.

Manufacturers interested in joining and consumers looking to buy American made products, should visit www.AmericanMadeMatters.com for further information.

Member Profile: Bollman Hat Company

Member Profile: Bollman Hat Company

Company Name & Location – Bollman Hat Company, Adamstown, PA

# of US based employees – 200

Years in Business – 143

Corporate Structure – Employee-Owned

Principal line of business – Bollman is an industry leading designer, manufacturer and distributor of men’s, women’s and children’s headwear and accessories.

Do you have any future expansion plans?   We continue to look for new opportunities to expand our brands in existing markets as well as new markets outside the US. We have recently signed two new licenses; first with R&B artist, Ne-Yo for his line of headwear and second with 8 time all around champion cowboy, Trevor Brazile, for his Relentless® brand.

Why does American Made Matter to you?   As the oldest hat maker in America dating back to 1868, manufacturing is part of our heritage. Over our 143 year history, we have provided tens of thousands of jobs, supported the local economy, and provided opportunities for a better life for our employees. We see renewed interest in US made products and believe that US manufacturing still plays a vital role in the future of our company.

How are you using the logo on products, website or marketing materials?   The American Made Matters logo is placed on the homepage of our website, www.BollmanHats.com. It is also featured on hangtags placed on our products made in our Pennsylvania factory and listed in our Bailey catalogs next to products made in the USA. We are going to be using the logo on our shipping cartons as well.

Do you have any tips for communicating the American Made Message?   As the founding member of American Made Matters, we have invested significantly in getting the message conveyed to our retail customers and the consumers of our products. We have created the AmericanMadeMatters.com website as well as a Facebook and Twitter account where we are connecting with consumers.  American made is always part of our discussions about our company.  This includes press, retailers and consumers.

Has your company won any awards recently?   In 2010 we were recognized at the Governor’s mansion as one of the oldest companies in Pennsylvania and have also recently been recongnized by the ESOP association for over 25 years as an Employee/Owned company.

What’s your vision for the future of your company?   To grow our brands and private label distribution in targeted markets throughout the world, increasing opportunities for our Employee/Owners.

What values drive your business decisions?   Our core value is to exercise effective stewardship over the heritage and assets handed down from past generations.  This will be upheld as our people 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.

What advice would you give to a start-up business that plans to manufacture/source/etc. in the USA?   To make sure the product that you are offering is the highest quality possible and that you are able to respond with fast, exceptional service as it is unlikely that you will be able to compete on price.

What are the benefits for your company of manufacturing in the USA?   Being able to better control quality and consistency of the products. We can also respond much faster to new trends and short lead times. US manufacturing also enhances our ability to innovate.

How do you balance US and foreign manufacturing for your company?   The market most often dictates that balance. There are products that we sell and components that we require that are no longer or have never been available in the US. There are price points at the lowest end of our market that simply can’t be met using US manufacturing.

How do you get the message out to your customers that you are manufacturing in the USA? Is it important to your customers that you manufacture in the USA?   We present American Made Matters to our private label customers when we meet with them. Our Bailey brand features American Made Matters in our catalogs and we have discussed and encouraged the focus on American Made Matters with our salespeople. We think it is important to most customers but it is only the determining factor of whether they will buy from us by a minority of customers. Obviously the value of consistent quality, innovative designs, excellent service and a price that is within a competitive market range are all key components.