Show Preview - May 2011

Made In The USA
By Samantha Siegel

American-made home goods companies weigh in on bringing back jobs, staying competitive in the marketplace and making exceptional products that buyers crave.

Over the past year much attention has been paid to American-made goods. Television specials on the topic and continued concern over the jobless rate sparked interest with not only buyers, but also manufacturers, who realize they need to give consumers more American-made choices.

These nine companies have blazed the American trail, employing thousands of people and keeping shelves stocked with stylish products.

Louisville Bedding

Providing more than 700 jobs, Louisville Bedding sees itself as a large, local company, with six U.S locations in Kentucky, California and South Carolina.

Mandy Talbert, brand and communication manager, Louisville Bedding says, “Obviously the biggest concern to buyers is price, but the price of everything, everywhere is going up. Today you need to make yourself stand out, not just be a price-driven product. The product needs to be more than one dimensional, at the end of the day, something that the retailer and consumer are willing to pay a little more for. Having greater quality control of our products and assuring that all our items are first quality allows us to maintain a stronger hold of our image and the integrity of our products made here.”

Capel Rugs

Shown is Hable Construction’s Ink Trellis chair, hand printed on 100 percent linen in the U.S. Below Hampton by Capel Rugs is hand woven with sturdy wool blend yarns and crafted with a low pile. Reminiscent of menswear-inspired furnishing fabrics, it easily coordinates with any décor. opposite page Newport-Layton’s Firestone pillows in Mardi gras and tango.

Capel Rugs has been manufacturing braided rugs in the U.S. for nearly 100 years. It is seeing a turning tide for American-made goods; they believe producing quality rugs here at home is getting easier, with a skilled workforce already in place, new technologies and a large quantity of high-quality natural and synthetic materials available.

Allen Robertson, vice-president of sales, Capel Rugs sees the importance in keeping the company based in the U.S. “It is important for Capel to continue manufacturing in the United States because of all the benefits being an American company provides us. The government standards here allow us to make high-quality products and provide a lot of benefits to our employees,” he says. “Manufacturing in the U.S. also places us in close proximity to our major marketplace.”

Pendleton Woolen Mills

Pendleton has a legacy that goes back to 1863 in the Northwest.

“There are many advantages to manufacturing in the U.S. One of the biggest is the savings in time and cost of transportation of goods. Another advantage is communication. With our design and merchandising teams located very close to the mills, we can troubleshoot production quickly,” says Kathy Monaghan, home project manager, Pendleton Woolen Mills.

However, there are concerns. “Increased efficiencies in technology make many aspects of manufacturing easier, no matter the location. But with fewer manufacturers in the U.S. there is the issue of vendor support,” Monaghan explains. “Sometimes we are at a disadvantage in trim or packaging, since we have to wait for products to be shipped here to meet up with our production line.”

Newport-Layton

Newport-Layton is a 50-year-old company that is proud of its Portland, OR history, producing 50 percent of its largest category, decorative pillows, in its 100,000-square-foot facility there.

While they are striving to keep business here, Belinda Ballash, fashion director, Newport Layton says, “We find it increasingly difficult because it gets harder to find American-made materials and even harder to meet expected price points.”

Although they produce a large amount of product in the U.S., they still produce overseas for a specific type of customer.

Ballash points out, “Our imports have large minimum requirements and therefore we mostly import for certain customers. Then again we have customers that want shorter lead times, smaller orders and more selection, so our Oregon cut and sew operation satisfies that.”

Creative Bath

A collage of Mariasch Studios products, including hand-printed Celebration bottle aprons, adjustable cotton apron with pockets, pet door hanging pillows and linen hemstitched cocktail napkins.
The Navajo Contemporary blanket from Pendleton Woolen Mills features the directional cross, a sacred symbol to many Native American tribes, signifying the four great directions, north, south, east and west. Right Louisville Bedding produces its mattress pads and pillows here in the states.

With more than 750,000 square feet of office, manufacturing and warehouse space in Central Islip, NY, Creative Bath has more than 450 employees.

Over the past four years, Creative Bath has climbed to the top of the beverage dispenser market. In order to keep up with demand, its manufacturing plant that houses 57 injection-molding machines is open 24/7.
Bob Weiss, coo, Creative Bath Products, Inc., says, “We face the same challenges that overseas suppliers have, such as the increase cost of raw materials. Other than that, with automation and a great infrastructure, we feel we offer a better, safer product than overseas suppliers.”

Hable Construction

Started by Texan sisters Katharine Hable Sweeney and Susan Hable in 1999, Hable Construction has strived to make beautiful, bold prints with locally sourced materials.

“Currently all the products on our website and in our interior design collection are domestically made and produced. We are proud that our business supports jobs in the U.S. and our relationships with our manufacturers are similar to those of family members,” Sweeney says. “We love that we can drive or fly to any of our people in a couple of hours. There is clear communication and our manufacturers have become more flexible to minimums and have treated us like partners instead of just someone to make a quick dollar from.”

Avanti Linens

Avanti Linens finishes its towels in its Moonachie, NJ plant, embroidering and sewing designs on its Canadian-produced towels.

Jeff Kaufman, president/coo, Avanti Linens explains, “It hasn’t been easy for a long time from a cost standpoint, but there are definite advantages—namely quality, lead-time and the ability to make closer to need—reducing the risk of obsolete inventory.

“We believe that the product we produce here is of a better quality than we can get overseas and the ability to turn it around quickly and limit obsolete inventory outweighs the higher costs associated with producing here,” he concludes.

Mariasch Studios

Mariasch Studios makes unique handmade gifts in Long Island, NY. “My family migrated to this country more than 60 years ago from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and it has given me opportunities that I could not have dreamt of in our own country,” says owner Catherine Mariasch. “By creating jobs in the U.S., I am not only giving that right back to everyone seeking a life here, but I am also helping the economy, hence, in turn, helping myself and my family.”

Mariasch also notes that there are challenges facing American-based companies. “All of our products are made of 100 percent cotton, and every day there are mills closing down, so finding American-made fabrics is a constant challenge,” she explains. “The price of cotton worldwide is not helping either. The good news is that we (all American-made companies) stick together and help each other out, at least in my case.”

Home Source International

Home Source International launched its Made in America line this March, during New York Home Fashions Market Week. They have been preparing to produce a line in the U.S. for some time and with raw material pricing rising, as well as overseas freight costs, they seized the opportunity.

Home Source also was able to eliminate a 21 percent duty rate on its imported embroidered goods by purchasing a machine, which allows them to embroider in its U.S. facility.

Scott Sorgeloos, vice-president of sales, Home Source International, reveals, “We are testing the limits and capabilities of our domestic manufacturing facility and once we have maintained a level of quality that our customers have grown accustomed to, the sky will be the limit.”

“Consumers do care more today about American-made products than five years ago because I believe American consumers want to see jobs come back here,” says Sorgeloos. “There has been a major exodus of jobs over the past five years and they want to stem that tide and see more jobs open up at home to help to turn OUR economy around.”

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