Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Santa, Won't You Bring Me an American-Made Workbench?!

I've heard the expression "tool porn" so I think I have found an example of "workbench porn"! These work benches by American Workbench (Charleston, SC) are hand-build with beautiful maple butcher block tops, custom height, recessed shelves, and choice of stains. These are almost too beautiful to use, but what a wonderful piece of functional furniture in the best hand-craft tradition.

So, who's been a good boy this year?!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Bosse Tools Launches American-made Ergonomic Yard Tools

Just in time for the autumn yard cleanup, and the planting of perennials, a new start-up company is working to bring American-made yard tools to the market. Bosse Tools is the brainchild of young entrepreneur Steven Walden, a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. 

Being made in America is rare enough (try finding a U.S.-made Ames True Temper shovel anymore!), but Bosse Tools have another innovative feature: an ergonomic design with a rotatable center handle that makes it much easier to grasp the tool handle
To get his idea to market, Walden is launching a campaign on Kickstarter to raise money to begin manufacturing.

Below is a summary of my interview with Walden:

1) You say you got your idea for improved tools from your own experience using traditional shovels. How did you get from "idea" to design?

The short answer is that I’m no stranger to the shovel, and after working for my parents a few summers ago (with my mom in her community garden and with my dad at his properties in Phoenix) – I decided that I may have thought of a ‘better mousetrap.’  It shouldn’t be normal to wake up sore every day after using these tools, so why not come up with a way to make them easier to use.  I was using other tools as well, with perpendicular handles, like hedge trimmers and weed whackers, when I realized that this handle configuration can be used on a simple shovel.

I took this idea to my entrepreneurship class at Loyola Marymount University – and as a senior, I ended up winning the school competition for “new venture creation.”  What started as a class project grew into an idea for an entire line of tools, so I started Bosse Tools – the ergonomic tool company.

2) Where are your products manufactured and what was important to you in making that choice?

The best part about Bosse Tools is that we are 100% American born and 100% American made.  For me, the choice was obvious.  We have redesigned a tool for the American worker and we want it built here too.  I have faced a lot of scrutiny from potential investors and so-called 'business experts' about the strategic maneuver.  They said it is just not possible to do it in America.  I would usually tell them, "Just watch."  Next time the price of a shovel comes into question, I ask you to flip the tool over and look where it's made.  Be proud to buy American, and be proud to buy Bosse Tools.

3) What product lines are you currently manufacturing, and what ideas will you be working on in the days ahead?

Although we started with just one shovel, we realized that ergonomics can apply to all shovels, not just regular pointed ones.  We are ready to move forward with the production of our entire shovel line which includes spade shovels, flat head shovels, and snow shovels.  The plan is to be an all-encompassing tool company that manufactures all sorts of long shafted tools – anything from pitchforks to rakes and brooms.

4) How can consumers find your products?

Shoppers can go to our Kickstarter page or to BosseTools.com

Best of luck to Steven Walden and his innovative idea!

Stephanie, Webmaster

Sunday, September 08, 2013

An American-Made Food Mill for My Vintage Kitchen

This weekend I scored a “vintage” food mill from the thrift shop. I didn’t even know I needed a food mill, but when I saw it on the shelf it just looked so sturdy and from another (non-electric gizmo) era that I had to take it home.

Made by Foley Mfg. of Minneapolis, Minnesota, this food mill is beautiful in its simplicity and utility. I’m not sure when Foley Food Mills went out of production, but they were probably in use in most of our grandmothers’ kitchens.

I have a batch of locally grown, fresh apples that I am cooking up and I will run them through my mill to make applesauce.

Enjoy the coming of autumn, and keep checking where things are made!

Stephanie, Webmaster

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Companies Work to Burnish their Image as American Manufacturers

The economics of production have shifted ever so slightly in favor of U.S. manufacturing and a growing number of companies are touting their domestic manufacturing credentials.

It made headlines when Apple announced plans to make a product in the U.S., but considering the scale of their manufacturing effort, this nibble seems more symbolic than anything else…

One of my favorite “made in USA” ad campaigns was Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” campaign. Fellow Michigan-based company Carhartt has now teamed up with Chrysler to promote “Imported from Detroit” clothing. Several years ago, Carhartt launched a “Made in USA” line (designed in Michigan, but made at factories in Kentucky and Tennessee) for shoppers who were frustrated with the growing imported content in Carhartt offerings. (Check out the "Imported from Detroit" video on the Carhartt site).

Carhartt was not the first company to feel the wrath of consumers when globalization “realities” ran up against customer brand loyalty based in part on the brand’s “made in USA” credentials. Think Craftsman, whose gradual shift away from US-made hand tools has fueled a mini-storm on the Internet.

New Balance, which has been somewhat of a hero among the “Buy American” crowd as the one remaining large-scale producer of US-made running shoes, has recently expanded to 18 the number of styles that are made at its U.S. factories. Their website uses prominent logos to indicate which styles are “made in USA” (which they define as 70 percent or greater U.S. content) or “assembled in USA” (if less than 70 percent). New Balance also has launched a new ad campaign, “America is for the Makers” that emphasizes the company’s 75-year tradition of New England manufacturing.

A recent investment article from Charles Schwab & Co. listed companies that reportedly are shifting some additional manufacturing to the U.S., in what is often called “insourcing” or “re-shoring." As the article notes, however, increases in exports include exports of energy sources, like U.S. coal, and shale oil and natural gas (including production by the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”)—but that’s a topic for another day.