Tips for selling Made in USA
by Josh Bohm
I’m Josh, the new guy at The Paint Dealer. Jerry found it a good idea to give me a shot with you all and we will soon see if his trust is well placed!
With July came Independence Day, and one thing we often think about and reflect on around this time of year, regardless of where we sit in the political spectrum, is the state of our country. What can we do to support our friends, neighbors, and families? One surefire way is by involving ourselves with businesses that manufacture their products here in the U.S.
I try to buy American whenever I can, from a box of screws to a nice guitar. It personally makes me feel good and makes me believe I’m making a difference when I support American businesses, products, and jobs. No doubt many of you readers feel the same way. We are seemingly on the way to another renaissance of American ingenuity and manufacturing and now more than ever the phrases “American Made” and “Made in the USA” mean something special to consumers. I consulted a panel of experts—companies who make a point to manufacture in the USA—about what this means for them and most importantly, what it means for you to take advantage of this trend and how you can capitalize on it to best serve your clients from DIYers to paint pros.
Born in the USA
What does it mean to the pro contractor when a product is made in America? Quite a lot, say our manufacturers! I asked this question to everyone I talked to and unsurprisingly, their answers had some similarities. Keith Herwig, CEO at Warner Tool, believes it’s because paint professionals themselves are primarily local suppliers. “They demonstrate pride in their workmanship and the communities they serve,” he said. “Buying made in the USA products reinforces their positioning as a trusted local supplier, using the highest grade products to achieve professional results for their customers.” He gives more credit from there. “Paint pros understand that Warner products offer uncompromising quality and help them deliver professional results job after job, increasing referrals and maximizing profitability.” That statement of increasing referrals is critical to helping with a painter’s reputation as it’s much easier to do a quality job when you use quality tools!
The idea that quality tools breed quality results is a concept not lost on Corona Brushes’ President Ben Waksman. “In an age of so many imports, we think it is important to painters that there is a company focused on making fine quality painting tools by hand to insure consistent painting performance that painters can rely on. This is quite important to the professional painter as well as the discerning DIY painter,” he said.
Kacie Baon, Category Manager of ShurTech Brands, makers of Frog Tape, shared similar sentiments to Mr. Waksman and Mr. Herwig. “Consumers and paint professionals expect high-quality products from our brand and we believe the best way to deliver this is by producing FrogTape® brand painter’s tape in the USA,” she said. “Our company understands that many consumers see the value of ‘Made in the USA’ because they see that it translates to jobs and money staying in America, as well as fair labor practices.”
There’s even statistical research in the industry from folks like Sam Averbuch, President of Preval, makers of the popular Preval Sprayer and Re-Grip. “Sixty-five percent of professionals care about where products are made and prefer Made in the USA products because they know that U.S. made products equal more jobs for their customers,” he said.
The Best We Can!
Many manufacturers cite that producing here keeps their quality up and provides for better control over the final product, and also that they can be a force for positive change in the communities where they manufacture. Frogtape lists many benefits of manufacturing between the shining seas. “By producing many of our products in the U.S., we are able to support American manufacturing jobs at key production locations in North Carolina and Ohio as a result of the business in these categories,” said Baon. “Also, keeping the manufacturing local also allows us to be flexible and very responsive to the needs of our customers. It allows us to keep a close eye on the production process to ensure that our quality standards are maintained.”
That’s the name of the game for U.S. built items. Manufacturers want to be able to secure the utmost in quality and consistency so painters can always depend on their product. “When we make our products here in the USA, we have hands-on quality control,” continued Sam Averbuch from Preval. “The standards not only reflect the quality of the product but also the quality of life we provide our employees.”
Trying to Bring it Home
Sometimes sourcing the materials or doing the manufacturing is infeasible in the U.S., but that doesn’t mean that our panel is giving up—far from it. Warner Tool makes products both here and overseas, for example. “As a U.S. based manufacturing company we always strive to produce products at our plant in the heartland of America,” says Herwig. “We only import a small percentage of our product mix and it is always done to meet a customer-specific request. We are continually evaluating any imported item to determine if we can move it to our production facility.”
Ben Waksman of Corona also spoke about difficulties in supply. “Most of our best quality materials are sourced in America, but some of the raw materials are sourced from foreign countries simply because they are not available here,” he said. “A case in point is natural hog bristle, which comes from China. But once these materials reach our facilities, all materials, whether U.S. or foreign sourced, undergo a strict process to meet our standards before they are transformed into Corona paint brushes and rollers.” A continuation of that proof from Corona is its All American series that, says Waksman, is specially made with materials sourced in the U.S. “They are handmade with a unique blend of extra-firm DuPont filaments. These brushes are built full stock, compressed in thinner ferrules, and offer lighter working tools with full performance features,” he related.
M.A.D.E. in the U.S.A.
The big question we hope you’re asking (if you’ve read this far, if you’re here, then you have!) is “How can I sell more American product?” The great thing is it almost sells itself and does the work for you! One thing that resonated across our manufacturers is an agreement that a large number of your customers, both professional and DIY alike, want to support American products—so it’s up to dealers to draw attention to it. “Recent surveys have shown that many Americans indicate a preference for buying locally made goods,” Kacie from FrogTape says. “Consumers are becoming more conscious than ever before about basing purchasing decisions on ethical and patriotic criteria and we are happy to provide them with a superior product that does just that.”
This thought can be applied to any of our panel. “When customers see that a paint store invests in American made products the customers are proud,” added Averbuch of Preval.
Keith Herwig of Warner throws even more crackle on the fire. “We help our dealer network understand the value of Made in the USA products through our marketing and educational activities,” he said. “We also participate in the Made in the USA brand initiative that has been supported by many in the industry. It is an effort to make Made in USA products more identifiable with a common logo across manufacturers.”
Summing up how to sell these pieces of Americana to your clients, Herwig mentioned how in-store signage and off the shelf isle interrupters that help consumers identify Made in USA products provide valuable aids for their shopping experience. “Often the barrier to choosing a Made in USA product is simply being able to identify it—so help your customers find them!”
No matter the product, all these companies band together with a similar and simple message: Your clients want to buy American, so if you can clearly highlight these products and their American heritage, they will do the rest themselves! “American Made” and “Made in the USA” might just sound like buzzwords, but to manufacturers, dealers, painters, and consumers, it means great quality, longevity, consistency, and pride.
Soy and Services
We had the opportunity to talk to Scott Sarver, the marketing coordinator for Franmar, makers of eco-friendly soy-based cleaning and graffiti-removal solutions. His company’s perspective gives us an interesting take on U.S. manufacturing.
Q: What do you believe it means to paint professionals that you make products in the USA?
A: The responses from our customers indicate that they appreciate the commitment to U.S. made products. Our products are made for a services-based industry by a group of men and women making their living here in the U.S. I think they appreciate knowing that they are helping support other workers here in the U.S. rather than a foreign sourced product.
Q: Do you get better quality product or have higher quality control standards by manufacturing here?
A: Sourcing products from vendors with whom we have built a relationship over the course of many years ensures our confidence in the product that we are receiving and also the product that we are manufacturing. Our managers are regularly in the warehouse and production area working with our team to make sure that what we are producing is done to the standard of quality for which Franmar and BLUE BEAR are known. Since we aren’t delivering finished goods from a remote location, we know if there are any issues and can address them before shipment.
Q: Does the close proximity to your raw materials such as soy, and your involvement in them, benefit your product in ways you wouldn’t be able to if you were overseas?
A: QC, distribution and delivery are certainly easier working with US products. We have developed relationships with our providers that understand our model of business, which in turn benefits our customers. Our JIT (Just In Time) model of sales and delivery extends into a lean and agile operation for our production side. Without the burden of excessive inventory, we are able to transition to meet customers’ needs easily, and the quick delivery system from stateside vendors allows us to thrive in this model without a delay to customers.
Q: How do you believe that dealers can highlight yours and other USA made products to draw the most attention?
A: We proudly let people know that our products are made here in the USA and that we source all of our raw goods from US vendors. We made that commitment long ago to be in business with our “neighbors.” Going back to the point that painters and contractors are service based, the labor is happening here. When a dealer highlights that partnership through shelf talkers and other advertising options, along with having good product knowledge and being able to pass that along to the end user, it strengthens that partnership and helps direct those looking for Made in the USA products find them.
Made in America Matters
Mr. LongArm discusses the importance of Made in the USA.
Since its inception in 1958, Mr. LongArm has relied on American ingenuity, creativity and hard work to produce high-quality products. We are proud of our dedicated employees, and remain committed to them. Our above average number of long-term employees is a testament to that commitment.
Mr. LongArm is also committed to our customers’ success. Our company is extremely accessible via our website, social media, e-mail and phone. It’s rare to actually speak with a live person when you call a company but that is exactly what you get when you call us. No robotic voice, no numbers to push, no long menus to listen to. Instead of that our receptionist will see to your inquiries happily and quickly.
It is our goal to provide the highest quality tools, and to achieve this goal we only use the highest quality components. We procure and use American-made aluminum tubing for our extension poles and manufacture components with our own injection-molding and fiberglass pultrusion systems. The majority of our raw materials also come from domestic sources.
We firmly believe that consumers desire to purchase American-made products and help fellow Americans and the companies that employ them. Our products are appropriately marked with the American flag to help consumers with their buying decisions. In addition, we recently created a red, white and blue version of our popular floor merchandiser to help stores promote American-made extension poles. The merchandiser is available at no charge to retailers who purchase a qualifying pole assortment.
It is our hope that consumers and other businesses continue to recognize that by purchasing American-made products we are all playing an important role in keeping Americans employed and helping maintain a strong US economy.