Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Losing a Planet

GM made a critical decision today, severing the underperforming Saturn brand after Penske could not find suitable long-term manufacturing to carry the brand forward. While I was disappointed to see the brand disappear, I understand the decision to move forward and leave the losses behind. This is never an easy decision, in fact, I doubt anyone at either Penske or GM wished this to be the outcome. What it does show is that our manufacturing base has been crippled in this country. With no factory or supply chain to turn to, Saturn fades away to a soon-to-be-forgotten entity few will write into the history books as anything other than a well intentioned but poorly executed experiment.

The business model Saturn started with was novel, efficient, and perhaps could have been a success given leadership being a bit more progressive in design and marketing. The product began with a cult following, strong sales, and customer loyalty before floundering with the American consumer and receiving an artificial lung from grandpa GM. The recent surge it experienced was a futile attempt at a comeback, and ultimately, too little too late.

We are evaluating similar models we have employed. With each of our lines of goods we have to make those same hard decisions - do we persevere or cut bait and move forward? Some of the lines have succeeded greatly, while others have found a hard start and even slower growth pattern than what any of us had envisioned. The important lesson here is that you learn from each of them and evaluate the next having a keener perspective and perhaps a bit more wisdom than before. I hope that GM learns from this, but I also hope the American public learns that stripping away the manufacturing base in this country is a short-sighted plan that could ultimately disable our ability to produce the durable goods we need to survive.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Staying Put

Thank you Daimler for staying put in PDX. I think we can all be thankful for a contract that maintains jobs and gives some of those employees a sense of security. I wish them well and a strong and positive future.

Monday, September 14, 2009

New Product Introduction

Recently we were contacted about a new product we might be interested in sharing with a larger audience. We decided to choose our newest pet product - A super lightweight combination food/water bowl for dogs (and humans if resourceful) that comes in under 4oz. in weight (for the backpacker types) and utilizes eco-safe fabrics void of PVC. In the past we had always relied on PVC coated materials for water proofing, however we found a less harmful alternative that comes from the waste of another job we are working on. This solution provides the necessary attributes to consider larger production at this time, and a cleaner consumer product for the take.

We are driving hard at finding these opportunities to use the waste of one job to build another. In addition to this last great pet product, we are about to introduce the 'The Sprout House', a new twist on the micro-greenhouse for the amateur botanist. Again, the waste of one job creates another product that eliminates the need for us to fill our trash. A unique micro-greenhouse structure perfect for starts and plant recovery, we designed The Sprout House to easily accommodate a wide variety of small plants just getting started in this crazy world. Look for this to grace store shelves this winter when seeds are sown for spring!

Making good use of waste is important, and necessary as the world becomes more crowded and resources are strained. We'll do all we can to continue building smart, innovative products that make sense in more ways than one.

Product ideas? Send 'em our way! We'd love to see what you are thinking about!