BVM - Jan 2015 - page 19

Business View - January 2015 19
preference to these less expensive products now com-
ing into our market. Sharing this vision of what it would
take was key if this company was to survive and pros-
per against less expensive imported products.
I began the design process focusing on nothing else
but I also involved the entire factory in this solution as
their ‘buy in.’ My factory staff, with their own knowl-
edge of production and sewing techniques, helped me
to produce the best sewing processes into the new
glove design, so that it could be produced cost effec-
tively, with as few production steps as possible to be
produced in potentially large quantities.
The outcome was that, after many hours of focusing
on designing a brand new and state of the art product,
that matched the vision I shared with my entire com-
pany; we finally had exactly what we needed. The final
product was better I had envisioned and was very dif-
ferent from all other products in the current U.S. mar-
ket. Cash was now very tight and we could not afford to
promote the new glove, so, instead we made 80 pairs
and sent them out to the top 80 distributors for feed-
The finished glove had the best dexterity, feel, grip and
form fit of any existing product in the U.S. firefighting
market. I focused on keeping to standard components
but developed a state of the art adhesion system that
had never before been used in U.S. glove making. I
targeted the manufacturing costs to an end product
that would be priced in the mid-range of all competi-
tive products so that initial end user cost would not
become a barrier for a new product entry. Over time,
and with the gloves increasing success, I raised the
price, to where I had planned it to be, with no market
resistance at all, due to its increasing popularity.
I called the new glove ‘Blaze Fighter’ and not only did
it do exceptionally well, but it became the biggest sell-
ing firefighting glove in the entire U.S. firefighting glove
Within six months of its launch we had sold $1 million
in sales and the sales continued to climb as more and
more distributors came back on board. I firmly believe
that U.S customers should not choose a U.S. made
product solely because it was U.S. made; but should
choose the best product at the most acceptable price.
I set out to make a more desirable and a more com-
petitive U.S. made product that my customers would
choose over a less expensive imported product.
What can be learned from this highly competitive is-
• Share the existing problem with your staff and let
them be part of the winning strategy.
• Show a comparison, if you can, with your competi-
tion’s products explaining why yours is losing market
• Ask for your co-workers help in the solution and in-
volve them in the process.
• Share your vision of what will be required to stay
in business, and no sugar coating the issues, as they
will help drive the energy required to complete the pro-
• Focus, focus, focus, on the task at hand and do not
become sidetracked with interim issues. It’s hard to fo-
cus on a solution while sales and profits are diminish-
ing but if you allow other problems to take precedence
you will lose.
It is not easy to develop a new product against a back-
drop or losing market share, profits and reputation, but
what’s the alternative? With so many U.S. companies
losing control of their markets to offshore production
we should absolutely endeavor to keep the technology,
innovation and above all jobs, here in the U.S. and this
is just one example of success in doing so.
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