Companies On the Rise

Schmidt Brothers Cutlery

Schmidt Brothers Cutlery

Making it Cool to Cut
Schmidt Brothers Cutlery wants to turn the cutlery category on its ear.
Deeming the cutlery business as dull, dry and pricey, Schmidt Brothers, which is run by brothers Jared and Jordan Schmidt and licensed to Hudson Home Group, markets cutlery that it says is fresh, innovative and design-oriented at an affordable opening price point. “There’s room for more than 500-year-old German behem oths,” said Rick Lapine, executive vice president and one of the owners of Hudson Home Group, referring to some of the biggest cutlery brands in the business.
Schmidt Brothers Cutlery, which launched in 2010 and debuted product in 2011, offers forged German stainless steel knives with a tweaked blade shape that is balanced and weighted and fits comfortably in the hand. It offers a variety of handle materials on several blade profiles: the stamped acacia series; forged German stainless steel; stone-cut forged with a non-stick stripe on the blade so food slides off easily; an all-steel blade with a flared handle that “forces” you into a pinch grip and stands up on the countertop; the Titan series of carbon steel blades coated with titanium; and the bonded teak collection. There are specialty pieces such as the Keramik line of ceramic blades with stainless steel handles, and a series of universal knife blocks in a variety of materials, including acrylic. Fifteen piece sets in the Titan series retail for $350 and in bonded teak for $400; open stock knives in the Titan range from $25 to $40 and in bonded teak from $30 to $50.
The Schmidt Brothers believe in an educational approach to the business that young people can appreciate. “We’re bringing in a younger generation that loves being in the kitchen … People want to know what they’re buying and how to use it,” Schmidt said. “We wanted to present that as a brand.” The company conveys that message in a fun quirky way, with You Tube videos, for instance, that show the cutlery in use with names like “Tango with a Mango.”
The brand has gained traction at retail. It created an exclusive line for West Elm and is also sold at Bloomingdale’s, specialty stores and a big box store.


Welcoming Another Strong Year
Welcome Home Brands, now in its second year of operation, has significantly penetrated a number of national and regional key accounts since this time last year due to its spring introduction of peg-able bag packaging and a floor display merchandiser, said Richard Aslanian, co-founder and co-CEO, with Sam Sheppard. As of this fall, the paper bakeware company’s products can be found at mass merchants, specialty stores and just about every place in between. Both high-end and mid-market grocery chains have picked up the line, and two department stores are about to roll it out, Aslanian said.
He credited the success of the brand with its affordability—retail prices start at $4.99 and go up to about $12—and the product’s convenience; you can bake and serve in the paper bakeware. “A lot of people do baking and gifting,” Aslanian said. “It’s caught on.”

DKB Household USA Corp.
Fresh food, healthy living and cooking at home are among the trends DKB Household USA Corp. continues to focus on for new products, which bodes well for its brands. “Zyliss and Cole & Mason are both at the forefront of these trends, especially as the consumers also expect quality, convenience and value at the same time,” said Will Symonds, president, DKB Household USA Corp.
DKB continues its push into the U.S. market, growing its market share in all of the channels it operates in, said Symonds. “This is our third successive year of double digit top-line growth in the U.S.”
The company’s strengths lie in its core gadget business, as “the trade and consumers respect our quality and functionality,” he said. Over the last three years the company has grown through expanded distribution of its core lines, development of innovative seasonal gadgets and products related to healthy eating, as well as expanding into new categories, such as cutlery under Zyliss.
Zyliss also enjoys a high consumer awareness in the U.S., he added. “We are excited about the future plans and potential for the brand going forward.” This year, the brand added such products as the 3 in 1 Grater, 2 in 1 Handheld Slicer and the Smart Clean Chopper—“all three of these items demonstrate the core Zyliss brand attributes for easy use, easy clean and easy to store that we know our consumers love.”
Cole & Mason also continues to gain market share, he said, and “has been a huge success for us over the last three years in the U.S. market.” Its Ken Hom line of woks has also done very well.
And more brands are sure to come. “Our parent group is always looking for suitable investments and acquisitions to add to our existing portfolio of brands,” he said. “Expect to see [DKB] enter new categories in the coming seasons.”

Infusing a Business with Fashion and Innovation
Epoca International, the Boca Raton, Fla.-based parent company of Ecolution and Primula, has experienced annualized growth of 25 percent over the past four years, a success Executive Vice President Brian Melzer attributes to a commitment to design and innovation.
The goal is to keep existing categories, such as non-stick cookware in Ecolution and tea ware in Primula, fresh and to push forward with innovation into new categories. Primula, for example, entered the infusion market this year with its Flavor It pitcher, a complete beverage system that comes with three removable cores, one for brewing coffee or tea, one for fruits or vegetables, and one filled with a keep-cool gel, allowing a consumer to brew black tea infused with mint and then keep it cool while on a picnic.
“We launch with partners who want to tell the story without discounting,” Melzer said. Bed Bath and Beyond featured the Flavor It pitcher in 18 feet of window space in its Manhattan store on Sixth Avenue earlier this year and conducted demonstrations and gave out infused samples. “By allowing the retailer to tell the story it got consumers interested in innovation,” Melzer said. “Now they’re telling their friends about it,” via Facebook and other means.
The company works on extending its product life cycle through design and utility patents as well. In 2009, it launched the Hydrolon cookware collection with a water-based non-stick surface. At the 2013 International Home + Housewares Show it will launch Rejuva, a premium non-stick cookware line, also with a water-based formula, whose release, Melzer promises, will last for years. It is also adding a fashion component to the line with matching matte colors on the non-stick surface as well as the exterior of the pans. The same fashion know-how will be applied to the new Push and Serve tea kettle from Primula.


Focusing On Bakeware
While all of Mastrad’s eight product categories perform well for the company, it’s the baking and desserts group that will receive extra attention this coming year.
“There’s a lot of bakeware on the market,” said Tim Morgan, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “But ours is premium.” Its silicone bakeware even has a patent on it, as the handles have nylon on them for rigidity so the product is easier to handle when placing it in the oven, preventing spills, he said.
Next year, a mini theme will be part of the product introductions, including bakeware for tartlets, brownie bites and more, as well as more pastry items. “There’s definitely a need for it,” and Mastrad wants to be more of a resource for that category, rather than only having one or two items, he said. “You are branding the product more.”
Complementing the company’s bakeware category is its brand new website, Launched two months ago, it’s the first site that focuses on only one of the company’s categories and offers product information as well as recipes for consumers. The company will also debut packaging for its bakeware.
One of the things that separates Mastrad from other housewares companies is its design and innovation, he said. Founder Mathieu Lion tells him that the company’s team of engineers and designers in Paris come up with a new design every week, and it could be in any category—“nothing’s off the table.”


Keeping It Cool
It keeps wine chilled, but the Corkcicle’s initial reception was anything but, after launching to the trade in the summer of 2011. Though the company had only prototypes to show at the Atlanta International Gift & Home Furnishings Market that July, “we got great reviews,” said Eric Miller, partner—and more than 200 new accounts. The next month, founder Ben Hewitt, partner Stephen Bruner and Miller had a similar experience at the New York International Gift Fair. “We had great out-of-the-gate results.”
The product was “created out of necessity” by Hewitt, a lover of white wine. Hewitt wanted an easier way to keep his liquid chilled while he was sitting outdoors—without going back and forth to the refrigerator—and the Corkcicle was born.
Made of a BPA-free plastic with a food-grade nontoxic freezable gel inside, the Corkcicle looks like an icicle topped by a real cork (originally the top was plastic). And it’s not only intended for white wine but red as well, as the room temperatures are usually still too warm to serve red, Miller said (the website gives the proper serving temperatures for a variety of wines).
The product has evolved since its introduction. Besides using real cork to top it, the packaging has also been enhanced. In addition, the company added colors to the Corkcicle, using six hues in plastic to top the Corkcicle.


Products with Pop
Zoku, producer of the patented Quick Pop Maker, describes itself as “a collective of creative individuals who create things that will make our lives better through intelligent design and engineering.”
The Quick Pop Maker, the company’s first product launch, is a prime example of this group’s creative energy at work. This product freezes ice pops in as little as seven minutes right on the countertop, without the use of electricity. It makes striped pops, yogurt pops or pops with flavored cores, in which the user can add fruit, candy or nuts.
Each Quick Pop kit includes six durable and reusable plastic pop sticks, each with unique ridged designs that allow pops to adhere securely, and with special drip guards to reduce the mess of eating. The user first creates a mold in the base unit and puts it in the freezer for 24 hours. He or she then removes the base and places the pop sticks inside the mold, and then pours juice into the mold.
A specially designed Super Tool helps to quickly release the frozen treats from their molds. The unit can make up to nine pops before refreezing the unit again.
Since the debut of the Quick Pop Maker in 2009, Zoku has let fly with two extensions to the line: the Duo Quick Pop Maker, with a more compact design than the original; and the Single Quick Pop Maker, which makes Quick Pops one at a time.
In the meantime, the original Quick Pop Maker has garn ered a number of honors. In 2010, it received an IDEA Silver from the International Design Excellence Awards, and an Excellence in Housewares Award as the top took and gadget in the United Kingdom. Last year, it received the Good Housekeeping VIP (Very Innovative Product) award.


Drink and Be Merry
For more than 50 years, ThermoServ has been a pioneer in the insulated drinkware industry.
The company opened for business in 1956 by offering a black and gold coffee carafe. This product remains in the line to this day, a fixture in many restaurants throughout the country.
Beginning in 2002, ThermoServ expanded into insulated and single-wall drinkware. It has since established a leadership position in refillable, insulated drinkware, produced with double walls and foam insulation to maintain the beverage’s temperature. ThermoServ products are now distributed by way of mass retailers, convenience stores, the health-care market, coffee shops and college stores.
Of particular note is the company’s line of customizable drinkware. ThermoServ offers tumblers and mugs that can be customized with pictures or logos, which can be used for promotional giveaways, corporate events, executive gifts or recognition awards.
ThermoServ strove to underscore its market position in 2011 with the acquisition of PolySub from Sattler Cos. PolySub is a polymer that is used in sublimation transfers, a process involved in the permanent printing of images on products such as drinkware.
The acquisition underscored ThermoServ’s mission to continually improve its products’ quality. Jay Rigby, the company’s CEO, said at the time of the PolySub deal, “We are committed to continuous innovation and outstanding service to maintain our position as a leader in plastic manufacturing and decorating, all of which provides our customers with quality products, unique designs, service, easy accessibility and economic freight dispersion.”

Container King
From its beginnings as a vendor of seasonal products, HMS Manufacturing has expanded into a significant player in the markets for laundry products, home-organization merchandise, storage products, waste products, and kitchen and sinkware items.
The company was founded in 1987 and spent its first 11 years in business focused on the seasonal business. It began to expand beyond this frontier in 1998 when it offered private-label laundry products through Kmart. The Kmart relationship extended further in 2000, when HMS was tabbed to manufacture wastebaskets and laundry products under the Martha Stewart Everyday brand.
In the succeeding dozen years, HMS has further grown both its product categories and its brands. Under its own stewardship are the Home Logic brand of laundry products, including baskets and hampers, and the Poet line of merchandise for laundry and closet organization.
HMS has added to its branded offerings through license agreements as well. Since 2009, the company has held the license for Hefty storage and waste containers. It debuted a complete line of Hefty-branded indoor and outdoor wastebaskets. The following year, HMS grew this program with the launch of Hefty Clear Storage Containers.

Companies On the Rise



With a category as big and varied as housewares, it takes something special to get noticed. The following are housewares companies that are on the move to rise above the rest.


Special by Design
Joseph Joseph, the U.K.-based design-oriented kitchenware company, is rapidly raising its profile here in the United States. The eight-year-old company has quickly earned a reputation for quality products that are both stylish and innovative. These traits have garnered it prime real estate at specialty retailers such as Sur La Table, which recently doubled its floor space dedicated to Joseph Joseph in its SoHo store in New York City.

“Joseph Joseph designs products with functionality in mind with the aim to make our products more user friendly,” said Damon Willmott, sales director for U.S. operations. “Our products are not only distinctive by design, but offer a unique style to the current kitchenware available in stores. We consider our products affordable, but on the more ‘luxurious’ end of the market, and we are therefore looking toward the retailers that can enhance and showcase our collection as a brand story.”

Joseph Joseph’s superior design sensibility is already well known in Europe. The company has won the prestigious reddot design award for the past three years running and was part of the “2011 International Track 100,” the U.K. Sunday Times’ annual listing of Britain’s private companies with the fastest-growing international sales.


Eyes on the Prizes
The honors have poured in for Jura-Capresso. Since early this year, several of the company’s products have received design awards from a number of international organizations.

The Jura Z7 One Touch was given the Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum in February. In April, the Jura Impressa J9 One Touch TFT won the 2011 reddot design award from an international panel of design professionals and industry specialists. In May, the Capresso Froth Pro was named a finalist for New Product or Service of the Year-Consumer Products Category from the American Business Awards.

According to David Shull, vice president of sales and marketing, these designations are the result of Jura-Capresso’s efforts at “pushing the envelope. Product innovation is our top priority.” Shull cited Jura’s One Touch technology, which produces cappuccinos and lattes with one touch of a button, and Capresso’s lineup of coffeemakers—including the Froth Pro—which “provide retailers with options to build custom assortments to meet their consumers’ needs.”

Having raised the bar on technology, Jura-Capresso is now looking to raise it on advertising and marketing. For the Impressa J9, the company has teamed up with tennis great Roger Federer on a holiday-season advertising campaign. It has also launched a national print advertising campaign for the Froth Pro.


Beaucoup Beverageware and More
Formation Brands, whose portfolio includes the Slant and Clay Art brands and a wide array of private label merchandise, is forging a “fashion on the go” statement with many of its newest products. Its beverageware business continues to grow; its assortment includes whimsical stemware, a mug collection and plenty of travel items.

“This whole to-go, travel [category] has been fantastic,” said Leslie Miller, company founder and executive vice president of sales and marketing.

To complement its expansive line of lidded acrylic travel mugs, Formation Brands unveiled multiple entertainment-based SKUs at the Tabletop Show last month, including lunch totes and grill sets (designed to appeal to women with black and white polka-dot or zebra-print grilling aprons edged in fuscia or neon green, with deep pockets for tools).

The company, aided by an eight-person design team in San Francisco, is exploring new categories of business, including more melamine options and paper napkins, or, as Karen Funkhouser, vice president of sales and business development, put it, “the whole soup-to-nuts story.”


The Consumer is King
Not a single decision occurs at Aroma Housewares without considering what its impact on consumers will be. And the company actively solicits consumer opinions through multiple channels it has developed to collect feedback.

“We’re actively engaged in analyzing consumer surveys and emails,” said Todd Rogers, Aroma’s marketing director. “Our customer-service department has a very loud voice in our product-development process.

Aroma manufactures a variety of small electrics. Rogers said the company is “America’s dominant brand in rice cookers, electric water kettles and wooden-bucket ice-cream makers.” More recently, the company has made some inroads into induction cooktops and coffee-making accessories.

Technology plays a key role in its product designs, including fuzzy logic in rice cookers and digital features in kettles. Aroma’s innovations are also centered on the consumer. “We ask questions like, ‘Is this function going to help get dinner on the table faster?’ or ‘Will this help families eat healthier?’” Rogers said.

Touching consumers on an emotional level—which, as Rogers said, isn’t easy with small electrics—is always a goal at Aroma. “We’ve noticed an influx of positive communication from our consumers over the last few years thanking us for saving them time, making things easier and offering functions that they can’t find in our competitors’ units,” Rogers said. “It’s this sort of feedback that tells us we’re on the right track.”


Bake, Serve, Give, Recycle
 Launched in January, the Welcome Home Brands collection of paper bakeware is now in more than 2,000 stores across the country and has started to branch out internationally. The brand is sold in a wide range of stores, from large specialty chains to independent gourmet stores to hardware stores and hospital gift shops. Consumer interest in this giftable, disposable product is high. It makes it easy to bake, serve, store and give, all in the same form. It eliminates the need for metal pans, which means no pre-greasing or messy cleanup.

“When we launched the line we researched the category and found a real void,” said Rich Aslanian, co-founder and co-CEO, with Sam Sheppard. “I believe packaging and branding tell the story. The efforts prior to our launch lacked any sort of intent to brand a product.”

Welcome Home Brands’ tagline is “bake-serve-give-recycle” and the company has been successfully leveraging the “baking craze out there.” Consumers are looking for easy, time-saving ways to bake at home, Aslanian said, and Welcome Home’s paper bakeware fits the bill.


Something for Everyone
 Wilton Armetale is well-known for its alternative metal serveware but in the past year it has sharpened its focus on newness, product development and diversity of product under President Ed Leibensperger.

The company creates between 100 and 150 new products per year from a new team of designers. The result is a product line that encompasses many different design directions and offers something for everyone. The company also continues to build its Grillware line, which can go straight on the grill, with numerous new pieces, demonstration videos for consumers, and training videos for sales associates. The emphasis is on the everyday usability of the product, Leibensperger said, and to that end, the company plans to name a new everyday spokesperson for the product line in December. The spokesperson, the winner of a contest held earlier this year, will demonstrate the product in use in the kitchen. The company is also retaining its focus on the bride, with a new collection called Belle Mont.

“We’re excited about what we’re doing,” Leibensperger said. “Our customers are excited.”


Friend of the Environment
 Retail and housewares veteran Evan Dash’s newest venture—StoreBound—is a product development and distribution platform that focuses on the kitchen, laundry and office categories. Its first official launch is the Laundry POD, a non-electric washing machine that uses six liters of water to do a small load of laundry.

“There is nothing easy about getting the consumer to think differently about such a routine task. However, the early results show that there is a pent-up demand for a more portable and environmental friendly method of washing clothes,” Dash said. “We are realizing the great applications for apartments, dorm rooms and RVs as well as emerging markets all over the world. The humanitarian side to the product is gratifying as well.”

More recently, the company added Adam Cotumaccio as chief operating officer and Shaun Mackenzie as senior vice president/national sales manager to the executive team, as well as completed an acquisition of Desk Saver Global, a unique organization system for the work space. Dash said that a few more brand launches will be announced around the International Home + Housewares Show next year. At that show, StoreBound’s booth will be in the Discover Design Pavilion in the South Hall. There, “we will launch between 20 and 30 new and innovative products,” he said.

Targeting North America
 While German cookware manufacturer Woll Cookware has tried to break into the U.S. market before, it’s Global Marketing’s “understanding of the business” that has allowed the brand to hit the ground running this year. “We specialize in the gourmet retailer side of the business,” said Allan Wolk, president, Woll Cookware USA, a member of the Global Marketing family. Woll sells its product line in more than 45 countries worldwide, but “North America always had its challenges.”

Now Woll’s U.S. distributor, Global Marketing, offers retailers six lines: the reddot award-winning Logic series of titanium reinforced nonstick cookware in a stylish linear shape; Titanium Nowo, a titanium reinforced nonstick line that offers a patented detachable handle; Diamond’s Best, which has a diamond reinforced nonstick surface and a thick 10 mm body; Concept Pro, of three ply construction with an aluminum core, and with a lid that can positioned three ways; Diamond’s Plus, pictured, a diamond reinforced cast aluminum line; and, to come in January, Diamond’s Plus Induction, with a diamond reinforced patented cast aluminum bottom.

All of the lines are PFOA free, Wolk added, and the Diamond’s Best and Diamond’s Plus lines can also be special ordered with a detachable handle.  Diamond’s Best is one of the collections that has been received well, said Wolk, and is at a good price point for the industry. Concept Pro has also gotten a lot of attention, he said. “It’s an image and design piece for the high-end but it says you’re in cookware.”


Tremendous Potential
 It’s been a year of change at Fox Run Brands, which has seen it grow from one brand to nine within five years, spurting the company to change its name from Fox Run Craftsman this past summer to better reflect its expanding brand portfolio. The acquisition of Outset last year brought to Fox Run Brands the Kingsford and Guy Fieri brands, two areas with “tremendous potential,” said Sean Leonard, president, Fox Run Brands. Other past acquisitions include Kitchen Art and Doughmakers Gourmet Bakeware, and Fox Run Brands is working on a few others, said Leonard, hoping to announce them by the end of the year. The new acquisitions will expand Fox Run Brands to new areas of the home, he said. “We’re moving beyond kitchen; they’ll be complementary categories to what we carry today.”

Baking products have been the core of Fox Run Brands, he added, especially during a down economy. With the proliferation of cake-related television shows and gourmet cupcake shops, that category will continue to grow, he added. Two products that will be released for the season include a “very unique” pie decorating kit, pictured, and a pie spatula.

“We’ve really ramped up development,” he added. The key product development people at both Kitchen Art and Outset stayed on after those acquisitions, he added. “We’ll focus on product development like never before.”

Partnering to Expand
Known for its range accessories, Range Kleen will be emphasizing storage/organizational-related items going forward, and which includes its new set of cookware protectors, pictured, which help protect cookware from being scratched or damaged in storage.

“Consumers know and trust the Range Kleen brand along with Berndes [the German cookware company with which it has a partnership] as a quality piece of product that delivers on the promise of durability and performance,” said Patrick O’Connor, president/owner, Range Kleen. “While our range accessories category continues to expand, we put strategic emphasis on our Berndes cookware partnership as well and additional new product development efforts in storage/organizational-related items.”

Earlier this year Range Kleen extended its partnership with Berndes to 2015, continuing to lead all sales, marketing and shipping of Berndes Cookware USA from its headquarters as well as expanding its territorial responsibility from North America to now including Mexico and the Caribbean.

The most recent line of Berndes cookware is the Berndes SignoCAST Pearl ceramic cookware, which has European design and styling. Berndes is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year.


Young at Heart
The first Wushthof factory may have been producing as early as 1814, but the knife company is taking a youthful approach these days—and is clearly on the rise, especially to younger consumers.

Earlier this year, the company introduced its Classic Five-Piece Studio Block set targeting younger, space-deprived and price-conscious consumers.

The Classic Five-Piece Studio Block set features a narrow, customized four-slot light-wood storage block that holds four cutlery tools: 3.5-inch pairing knife, 4.5-inch utility knife, 6-inch cook’s knife and come-apart kitchen shears.

“It’s a starter set that’s designed to reach consumers just out of college, or maybe they’re in their first job,” said Annette Garaghty, the vice president of Wusthof-Trident of America. “We’ve found that they want to use great products. It’s great for studio apartments as well.”

Also emphasizing a more youthful demographic, the company has really “dipped its toe into social media,” Garaghty said. “It goes hand in hand with the younger demographic.”

Look for Wusthof-Trident to make a splash at the next Housewares Show with the company’s largest-ever ad campaign.


Power in Small Electrics
For nearly 100 years, Electrolux has been an iconic company in the U.S. floor-care and major-appliance markets. Now it would like to be an icon in the small-electrics category in North America.

The company has taken the first steps in this direction with the rollout, last month, of a line of small kitchen appliances branded under Frigidaire. Included in this line are a 12-cup coffeemaker, a toaster/convection oven, a two-slice toaster, a seven-quart slow cooker and four irons.

Offering these under the Frigidaire label makes an instant connection with consumers, according to Marty O’Gorman, president of Electrolux Small Appliances North America. “The Frigidaire brand means a lot to consumers, with excellent brand awareness for over 100 years,” O’Gorman said. “These products are perfect for consumers looking for something stylish.”

O’Gorman added that Electrolux will add to this line down the road, including products in other company brands. “Our brand has a strong identification with high performance, durability and style for over 100 years,” he said.

Companies On the Rise



Jura-Capresso: From Bean to Cup
Few companies have been as innovative in the coffee category as Jura-Capresso, in enhancing what the company describes as the “bean-to-cup experience.”
The company offers two distinct brands of coffee machines: the Jura line, consisting of automatic coffee centers that grind the beans, tamp them, brew coffee and self-clean in less than 60 seconds; and Capresso—whose name combines “cappuccino” and “espresso,” and whose line encompasses coffeemakers, espresso makers, coffee grinders, automatic water kettles and other small appliances. The company’s parent is Jura AG of Switzerland, founded in 1931, and was formed when Jura merged with Capresso in 2007.
It may seem difficult to fit the words “design” and “coffeemaker” in the same sentence, but Jura products have managed just that. The Jura ENA 5 received the 2008 Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum in an international competition. The brand’s Impressa J5 was given the iF Red Dot Award in 2007 for outstanding design quality, and a Good Design Award from the Chicago Athenaeum.
Capresso has been a hallmark in coffeemaker innovation. The Capresso CoffeeTEAM GS and CoffeeTEAM TS were the first to use the company’s direct-feed technology, which reduces mechanical movements inside the machine.
Jura-Capresso has its eye fixed squarely on the strengths of both brands. “Our plan is to continue to capitalize on our strengths, on the things that have made us successful,” said David Shull, vice president of sales and marketing. “This includes our in-house customer service, strong retail partnerships, training and education programs, and our commitment to new product innovation and quality.”

OBH Nordica:
Scandinavian Design and Quality
A market leader in Scandinavia, OBH Nordica looks to expand its success here in the U.S., and now has an office in West New York, N.J., and a supply chain management office out of Kansas. “We stand for Scandinavian design and quality and good value for money,” said Tatiana Vega, national sales and marketing manager. “We believe American consumers appreciate these very important product values.”
Its latest launch—the Double Dressing—will be with QVC. An adjustable oil and vinegar sprayer, it helps people eat healthier if they wish, as they can adjust it to spray all vinegar, all oil, or a combination of both. It can also be used to spray over vegetables, fish, sandwiches and other meals before grilling or eating.
Next year it will launch the Kimaya Body & Soul mat, which has been successful in Sweden, where massages and wellness-related products are a part of the culture, Vega said. It has 7,250 acupressure points and helps people feel better and more relaxed.
In addition, OBH Nordica will launch a line of hair-care products called Volumaster, which the company designed with Bjorn Axen, the hair dresser to the Swedish Royal family. It’s a patented styling tool to help increase hair volume.
Bold Choices Pay Off
Bold color choices, innovation and a willingness to shoulder risk have paid off for Bodum, a 66-year-old company that is enjoying one of its most successful years despite the economic downturn.
Bodum forged ahead when its competitors held back and failed to innovate, said Thomas Perez, president. “We saw that as an opportunity for us.”
The company added color to its line of hot beverage items, and when that move was well received, it accelerated its product development and introduced more than 200 items at the Ambiente fair in Frankfurt this past winter, including a line of small electrics in several colors like kiwi and orange, not your typical kitchen electric hues. The combination of bright color and easy-grip handles elevates Bodum products from the crowd. “If you’re just going to make another juicer or blender you are one of many,” Perez said. “Color is always a risk, but we thought people were ready for color.”
Bodum also recently introduced ceramic knives with colored handles, and the beginnings of a barbecue line that will a big push for the company in 2011. In addition to the hibachi-sized Fyrkat that was introduced  this fall, at the next Frankfurt fair Bodum will offer two more grill sizes and a host of barbecue accessories like platters and tools to create a complete collection.
Next up is cookware. It will be ergonomic, functional and of course, colorful. “There’s a lot of cookware out there, but I think this looks different,” Perez said.

Essick Air: Clean Air for Everyone
You can find an Essick home-environmental product on a table, in the corner of a room or even on the roof. The company specializes in air coolers and whole-house humidifiers in all sizes and in a variety of designs.
The company took a huge step forward in the design end with its introduction of the Pedestal humidifier, which was unveiled at the International Home + Housewares Show earlier this year. The Pedestal is unique in that it looks like a piece of furniture. It is designed with a woodlike exterior that fits into the decor of just about any home.
Essick offers a comprehensive selection of air-quality products, ranging from air coolers for both residential and commercial use, to whole-house humidifiers. Its brands include Champion Cooler, Spec-Air and Essick Air. “We are the absolute industry leader in whole-house humidifiers,” said Mark Ulrey, director of sales.
The company’s expansion—through its acquisitions of Bemis in 2004 and Emerson Home Comfort in 2007—enabled it to become more sophisticated in its manufacturing. “As we bought these companies, we geared up our factory, investing millions of dollars in equipment,” Ulrey said. “Now we have a lean-manufacturing system that has allowed us to bring models we used to source from China over here.”

Verilux: Healthy Lighting
Verilux, which manufactures products that use light to create healthier homes, was born from an artist’s frustration with the light where he painted.
Graphic artist Howard Scott often painted under a bare light bulb, which aggravated his iritis, an inflammation of the iris. To improve matters, Scott developed the Trucolite, a fixture that used six colored tubes that, when combined, provided “natural” light. Later, the advent of phosphor technology in televisions enabled the light from the six tubes to be combined in one tube. From these developments sprung a company dedicated to manufacturing products that use light technologies to create a healthier home.
Among these products are lamps, sanitizers and vacuums. They use two patented Verilux technologies: Natural Spectrum, which produces light that replicates daylight without harmful or unnecessarily wavelengths; and Clean Wave, which uses invisible UV-C light to sanitize surfaces, and which has been shown to eliminate up to 99.9 percent of germs, viruses, bacteria and dust mites.

Bobble: Filter While You Drink
Just fill it with water and drink—and look cool doing it. That’s the philosophy behind the attention-getting Bobble, the stylish, soft and squeezable water bottle that filters while you drink. The item was designed by Karim Rashid and first came to market earlier this year. The latest is a 13-ounce version informally called “Bobble’s baby.” Its smaller size is perfect for small hands, and its multicolored scheme was created to make water consumption more attractive to encourage kids to prefer water over sugary sodas. Each item comes with four playful stickers to let children personalize their Bobble.
Move Collective, the company behind Bobble, is headed by industry veteran Richard Smiedt. “Children are drawn to Bobble because it is bright and stylish, very different from the normal containers they drink from. So early on we realized we had to create a Bobble specifically for smaller hands.”

Simple Wave:
Building a Better Bowl
With its unusual inward-curving lip, Simple Wave’s Calibowl helps meals stay spill-free, from salsa and chips to cereal and milk. Founder Jeff Bollengier feels the design has tremendous potential, estimating that 80 to 85 percent of the housewares industry will buy or license this design by 2015.
“We believe it’s a billion dollar market share,” he said, as the salsa industry itself is a multi-million dollar industry. But it’s ideal for more than just salsa — “we’ve branched out to basically every market.” People love to spend money on their pets and children, for example, and so Calibowl is now targeting those two areas, which include a lower profile bowl for dogs.
“It’s another bowl—but it’s a better bowl,” Bollengier said. Since Calibowl’s launch in 2009, the company has dropped its prices, as pricing was one of the challenges it faced initially in order to be competitive with conventional bowls.
Initially made of BPA-free polypropylene, the Calibowl is now available in ceramic and bamboo a well as polypropylene, and future versions may come in stainless steel and glass, Bollengier said. The bowls have a non-slip bottom, and are microwave- and dishwasher-safe. One of the newer additions to the line is a bowl with a lower profile.

McCusker’s Return
When Jim McCusker, who was president of De’Longhi USA since he started it in 1980, retired from the company two years ago, he quickly showed that he was not quite done with the housewares industry.
McCusker founded Vianté Home Products—and reentered the realm of small electrics—in 2008. The company offers a full line of coffeemakers, cooking electrics, floor-care products and home-comfort products, under the brand names Café Vianté (coffeemakers), Cucina Vianté (cooking products) and Casa Vianté (floor care and home comfort).
Vianté has already begun shipping its original four products, which include the Grill & Griddle, the Pasta Maker, the Soup Maker and the Cheese Grater. It is getting ready to begin shipments of its Brew-N-View Coffee Maker, the Café Amici Espresso Maker, a line of toaster ovens and the Slow Cooker.
“The thing that makes Vianté unique is definitely the products the company is developing,” McCusker said. “They are truly innovative and unique in what they offer to the consumer.”
As an example, McCusker cited the Grill & Griddle, which has a 200-square-inch grill surface with separate, die-cast grill and griddle plates, and an electronic temperature probe with an on-board saddle. The Pasta Maker comes with ten separate pasta dies, including one for extruding biscotti.
Vianté will debut its new state-of-the-art Web site, which will have full details on the products in all three brands, in December. As McCusker stated, “Vianté is certainly a company to watch.”

Creating Colorful Housewares
Having started in Germany in 1927 as an ivory-carving business, Koziol is now known for its fun housewares products, many of which are character-based and brightly colored. With everything produced in its Erbach, Germany, factory, its biggest category is kitchen, especially kitchen tools and tabletop, while storage and lighting are two growing areas.
A spokesperson said Koziol started its business in the U.S. because this country is one of the biggest markets worldwide with high purchasing power, and it intends to expand its market share here. “And our design language is unique and easily understood the world over,” she said.
The company debuts about 30 new products annually with another 60 items in eight to 10 colors for each of its two seasonal collections — summer and winter. The seasonal colors are available for a limited time. While each country has its own Koziol color preferences, red, green, black and white are very popular, the spokesperson said.
 New products include Meeting Point, a five-piece cooking set which includes tools with names such as Donna, Turner and Oliver.

Finding a Sweet Spot with Small Electrics
Since its founding in 2003, Sensio has been making a name for itself in the kitchen electrics category. Its offerings span several product categories, including grilling, cooking and frying, toasting, blending and mixing, and coffee and tea products. “We’re very product development driven,” said Shae Hong, president and chief executive officer.
In addition to an extensive private label program, Sensio’s three licensed brands appeal to distinct segments of the market. The El Paso Chile Company brand, inspired by the family-owned specialty food company, enables consumers to create some of their favorite southwestern recipes and entertain in style with an assortment of bright-red electrics like the chili cheese warmer, the quesadilla maker and the frozen drink station.
Bella Cucina, Sensio’s second license with a specialty food company, offers everything needed to make an artful meal. In addition to serving products, the company has had huge success with its Sweet Treats program, Hong said. The line, which includes cupcake and waffle makers, will expand next year.
The new Gordon Ramsay collection, developed by the award-winning British chef, has three tiers: the Professional Series, featuring premium, high-design stainless steel electrics; the Signature Series, a high-quality line that promises performance; and the Everyday Series, a mid-range line that will build confidence in even the beginner chef.
“We took an aggressive approach to the entertaining category. We want to be the brand in entertainment,” Hong said.

GreenPan: Hello USA
GreenPan’s factory will be the second largest volume cookware producer in the world next year, according to Rick Lapine, president of GreenPan’s U.S. division, and yet its share in the U.S. is small—before this year it didn’t have a permanent presence here.
But that has changed. The company opened its Tarrytown, N.Y., office this past February and a 600,000-square-foot distribution center in California in August.
“There’s no bigger cookware market than the U.S.,” Lapine said. Its retweaked cast-iron line—with the Thermalon non-stick coating—will launch in January, as will kitchen electrics such as a multi cooker and sandwich maker. At the International Home + Housewares Show in March, the company will also announce newly acquired brands.
“We’re poised and ready to take our rightful position in the cookware industry,” Lapine said.  
The GreenPan brand launched in the U.S. in 2007 exclusively on HSN and has since expanded to national retailers, specialty stores, hotels and restaurants. Consumers can now purchase 16 cookware lines here—12 in the national chains and four in the specialty channel.

Imusa USA: Assisting the Cook
While Imusa USA has offered consumers the equipment to make Hispanic dishes for years, its new strategic marketing plan is helping consumers familiarize themselves with the techniques, the ingredients, as well as the cookware associated with the cuisine.
The company has assembled a team of professional chefs, including George Duran and Elsie Ramos, to develop recipes, give cooking demonstrations nationwide in both grocery and department store channels, and participate in the company’s social marketing program. The chefs also have cooking videos in both English and Spanish on the company’s website.
With nearly 20 webisodes planned for next year, the website also features how-to videos, so consumers can watch how a certain piece of cookware is used.
In addition, the company also debuted new packaging to make Latin cuisine more approachable for new users and appealing for those familiar with it. Features and benefits of each product are in Spanish and English. In addition, original, on-pack recipes such as George Duran’s Piña Colada Pancakes appeal both to new and familiar consumers, as pineapple is a very traditional Latin ingredient while pancakes are quintessentially American. Packaging is also mostly eco-friendly, using up to 35 percent less paper.

Tramontina USA:
Solutions for Retailers and Consumers
Providing domestic solutions to retailers and extending impeccable customer service are two of Tramontina USA’s goals, said Antonio Galafassi, president and chief executive officer. “We are refining our domestic operations to shorten lead times while providing flexibility in production schedules to accommodate seasonal demands,” he said. One way the company is doing this is by having larger numbers of unassembled items in a variety of colors and capacities, so that retailers can customize a product with a number of options.
In addition, “we continue to enhance our cookware assembly operations, warehousing and logistics at our Sugar Land, Texas, campus to easily provide item customization and increase shipping performance,” Galafassi said. “I firmly believe being quick to market with quality and desirable products, combined with flexibility in production and outstanding service to buyers will continue to positively distinguish Tramontina in the future.”  
One of its new products at the International Home + Housewares Show last March was its bakeware inserts, which turned the bakeware into cookware. It bakes the food faster than a traditional oven, the company said, saving energy as well. Made of heavy-gauge forged aluminum, the cookware had four layers of non-stick coating, and 12 SKUs were available, including cake and loaf pan inserts.
DKB Household USA: Faith in Brands
Known for its Zyliss, Jamie Oliver and Cole & Mason brands, DKB Household USA is poised to expand its business here, as “the U.S. is the market with the most potential for us,” said Will Symonds, the managing director of DKB Household USA. 
All three of its brands have “significant potential to grow,” he said, and “U.S. consumers are willing to spend more money on kitchen gadgets,” as well as try new things. He added that the company is open to acquiring more brands, if they are the right fit.
DKB has also aligned more closely with its major accounts, Symonds said, partnering with them throughout the design process, instead of just showing them finished product.
For the next International Home + Housewares Show, the company plans to offer its first line of woks. From Ken Hom, the line is called Tao Plus and will range from carbon steel and stainless steel woks with PFOA-free non-stick coatings, as well as a carbon steel version without a coating, so the chef can season it herself.

Wahl Clipper: Making Hair Cutting Easy
“The cutting edge” is more than just a cliché to Wahl Clipper Corp. The 91-year-old manufacturer has spent its entire lifetime breaking new ground in providing consumers with an alternative to the barber shop.
Innovation and quality control have combined to provide the company’s historical foundation, and continue as the twin linchpins of its unique position in the marketplace today. Regarding innovation, “we literally invented the category of home hair clippers,” said Bruce Kramer, vice president of North America consumer sales and marketing. “We also hold more than 240 patents.”
Also, quality control is central to Wahl’s manufacturing processes. “We’re the only one in the category that truly makes the product, as opposed to those that source the product from oversees,” Kramer said. “That gives us a hands-on position in quality control, versus our competition which can only control the color of the product and the box it goes in.”
According to Kramer, Wahl has a strong fan base among both consumers and retailers. “Consumers like us because when they buy a Wahl hair clipper, it’s a quality product,” he said. “Retailers like us because we come out with products with more and more features, which they can sell at higher prices. Also, we manage the category for them.
Wahl is also highly focused on marketing, which, according to Kramer, zeroes in on the fear element of cutting one’s own hair. “Being afraid is one of the hurdles for consumers,” he said. “Our message is, with our patented guide combs, it’s easy to cut your hair at home. And we’ve found that, 95 percent of the time after the consumer tries home hair cutting for the first time, they say, ‘Hey, I can do this.’”

Haan: Better Living Through Steam
Haan may not have invented the concept of steam-cleaning floors, but the company has played a huge role in making this category box office.
The company was founded by Romi Haan when her search for an easy-to-use floor steamer led to the introduction of the Haan FS-20 Steam Cleaning Floor Sanitizer. A few years ago, Haan brought the product to the United States after it capture 75 percent of the Korean market, according to a company estimate.
Haan still markets the FS-20, which has since been joined by the FS-30, the FS-50 and the SI 35 among floor sanitizers. The company’s line also includes the SV-60 Steam Vacuum; the MS-30 Steam System, which cleans floors, and surfaces off the floor; the HS-20 Deluxe Personal Sanitizing Steam Cleaner for all types of surfaces; and the GS-60 Steam Station, the GS-20 Personal Garment Steamer and Sanitizer, and the GS-30 Professional Sanitizing Garment Steamer for cleaning and sanitizing clothing.
Company literature attests to the power of steam to make a home healthier. At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, steam loosens dirt, cleans up spills and messes, and kills 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria—including e. coli, salmonella, dust mites and other allergens. The fact that Haan products accomplish all of this with water, rather than with chemical cleaning solutions, adds to their value in creating a healthier home.
So successful has Haan been in elevating steam sanitizing that other floor-care vendors have introduced their own steam mops and vacuums with steam-cleaning capabilities—proving once again that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Epilady: Hair Removal…and Beyond
Next year, Epilady will celebrate a quarter of a century of its mission to raise the bar on hair removal.
The company got off  the marks in 1986 when it launched its first electric hair-removal product (epilator) for women. It has since sold nearly 30 million epilators and established its presence in just about every continent—even in the United States, where shaving has been the preferred method of removing leg hair.
According to the company, Epilady’s products have engendered the same loyalty among their owners as have men’s shavers; women have held on to their epilators, in some cases, for 15 to 20 years, about the same amount of time that men keep their electric shavers.
The company continues to be innovative in introducing epilators, according to Epilady’s vice president, Amir Abileah. “Starting three months ago, all of our new products now have the Perfect Angle Guide,” Abileah said. “This is a curved head that ensures that the epilator is always held at the perfect angle. They also have a sticker to remind the user to charge the product before the first use.”
Epilady has also been innovative in its marketing. At the International Home + Housewares Show in March, the company announced that Kristin Bumbera, a driver on the NASCAR circuit, would be its spokeswoman for the new Epilady Speed epilator. Bumbera’s name, photo and autograph are all featured on the product’s packaging.
Now the company is venturing into uncharted territory. Coming soon will be products licensed under the Sharper Image brand, including a total body hair-removal system and a bikini trimmer; and its first move into the hair-care category, which will encompass blow dryers and hair straighteners.