Live American Made
For 100 years, we’ve proudly supported American businesses and communities. The Born Made Stayed blog is our effort to shed light on other remarkable companies that make products right here in the USA.
December 4, 2015
Okabashi Shoes: The Gift That Keeps on Giving
Know someone that’s headed someplace warm this holiday season? Help them start their holiday off on the right foot by giving them the gift of quality and comfort with a pair of American-made flip-flops from Okabashi.
For more than 30 years, the family-owned sandal and flip-flop making company has been “designing and manufacturing extremely comfortable shoes” right here in the U.S.
Photo credit: facebook.com/Okabashi
A Shoe That Is Much More Than a Shoe
In 1979, Bahman Irvani and his family fled their home country of Iran, leaving behind their successful shoe-making operation. After settling in Georgia in 1984, Irvani looked to the small city of Buford for its history in shoe manufacturing to revive his family’s business in America.
While the company’s name changed to Okabashi, its founding principles did not. In Iran, Irvani’s family had designed footwear according to ideas about comfort and health learned from the Japanese practice of reflexology. These principles have been carried over into the Okabashi brand today. Each shoe is ergonomically made with tiny massaging beads across the foot bed of the shoe to stimulate the sole of the feet, making what Okabashi says is “a shoe that is much more than a shoe.” In fact, many have called Okabashi shoes “the healing shoe” or “the most comfortable shoe ever.”
The design has clearly paid off. Okabashi now makes about 1.5 million shoes a year and has sold more than 30 million pairs to date – all made from 25% of its own recycled plastic, making Okabashi shoes good for you and for the environment.
Proud to be Made in the USA
Today, more than 98% of all footwear sold in the U.S. is manufactured overseas, yet Okabashi continues production where it was originally established in Buford, Ga. As they say on their website, Okabashi is proud that its entire footwear collection is made in America and shipped to customers worldwide.
“At Okabashi we believe that technology and design can be utilized to deliver a great product to the consumer at a great value, without shifting U.S. jobs overseas.”
To learn more, visit okabashi.com.
November 24, 2015
KitchenAid Stand Mixer: Bringing Convenience to American Kitchens Since 1919
Many will be thankful for the KitchenAid stand mixer as they whip up the mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving holiday.
The culinary favorite got its start in 1908 when Herbert Johnson, an engineer at the Hobart Corporation in Troy, Ohio, observed a baker hard at work as he tirelessly mixed bread dough with a metal spoon. As Johnson watched the baker manually mix the bread, he decided that there must be a better way. So he set out to develop an automatic mixer.
After some larger, early designs proved successful, the KitchenAid stand mixer for homes was born 11 years later. The iconic culinary tool has been stirring up convenience in kitchens all across America ever since.
Photo credit: www.kitchenaid.com
The “Best Kitchen Aid”
In 1914, Johnson developed the Model H, an 80-quart electric stand mixer that was designed for industrial use. Within three years, the stand mixer was “standard” equipment on all U.S. Navy ships. The product’s overwhelming success prompted Hobart engineers to design a smaller model that could be used in home kitchens. Sample models were given to the wives of factory executives, and as legend has it, the product was named when one of the women said, “I don’t care what you call it, but I know it’s the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had!” In 1919, the company unveiled the first KitchenAid stand mixer to the American consumer and a brand name was born.
KitchenAid stand mixers remained popular, and in the late 1930s, the KitchenAid factory would completely sell out of its products each Christmas. To expand capacity, KitchenAid moved its operations in 1941 to a 257,000 square foot manufacturing facility in Greenville, Ohio.
Today, KitchenAid stand mixers are still made in America and in the same Greenville factory into which the company moved nearly 100 years ago. The factory employs almost 1,000 local employees who paint, assemble, test, and package the thousands of KitchenAid stand mixers that are made (in America) each day.
To learn more, visit www.kitchenaid.com.
November 19, 2015
Goetze’s Candy: 100% Made in the USA
Goetze’s Candy Company, Inc. has proudly made its sweet treats in the U.S. since 1895. A century later, the family-owned and operated company still manufactures its trademark confections – Caramel Creams and Cow Tales – in the U.S. and in the same Baltimore, Md. building that it first moved into 120 years ago.
Photo credit: goetzecandy.com
Goetze’s Candy (pronounced gets) began in Baltimore in 1895 as the Baltimore Chewing Gum Company. At the time, August L. Goetze was working as an engraver at the chewing gum company and became aware that the gum business wasn’t doing well. It was then that he decided to make an offer and buy the business for his son. The rest is history – a sweet one.
An Iconic American Treat
Despite the shortage of supplies during the First World War, Goetze’s Candy remained in the confectionary business. In fact, it even encouraged the family to create new confections, and in 1917, they began making a caramel candy called “chuees.” The following year, Goetze’s Candy developed a new version of the chuee called Caramel Creams. The chewy caramel candy with a cream filled center quickly became Goetze’s signature candy and remains an iconic American treat to this day.
In 1928, Goetze’s Candy moved its operations across town to a 24,000 square foot facility on Baltimore’s East Monument Street, which allowed the company to triple its production output. A century later, Caramel Creams and Cow Tales are still made at the same building in Baltimore.
Committed to American-made
Now in its fifth generation, the family-owned and operated company is dedicated to manufacturing its candies in the U.S. and to keeping the company in Baltimore, where it was founded. As part of that commitment, Goetze’s Candy not only employs locally, but sources locally, too. Whenever possible, Goetze’s Candy buys its materials from American suppliers, regardless of cost, to support other American businesses.
To learn more about Goetze’s Candy, visit goetzecandy.com.
November 13, 2015
Rosebud Perfume Company: America’s Oldest Beauty Brand
Founded in 1895, the Rosebud Perfume Co. set out with a simple mission: to provide simple, multi-usage products that are both affordable and effective. With the creation of the world famous, Rosebud Salve that vows to be the solution for a wide variety of skin ailments – from blemishes and chapped lips to dry elbows – the family run Rosebud Perfume Co. has solidified its place in American cosmetic history.
Photo credit: sephora.com
A Soothing Solution
George F. Smith grew up on a farm near Woodsboro, Md., but soon realized his ambition went far beyond the plow. After a five year stint in teaching, Smith found his true passion as a pharmacist. Smith entered the proprietary drug and medicine field and was registered by the Maryland Board of Pharmacy in 1902.
Smith’s business began in a small drugstore located in Woodsboro, Md. After friends and family members requested a salve for minor skin irritations, Smith formulated a mentholated lip balm called “Balsam of Rosebuds,” which eventually became the popular Smith’s Rosebud Salve.
Realizing its local popularity, Smith decided to advertise his product in tabloids, and within a few years he had organized one of the most unique mail order businesses in the U.S. Several years later, Smith sold his drugstore and moved his business across the street into what is now known as the “Rosebud Building,” which has been home to the Rosebud Perfume Co. for the last 100 plus years.
One would think that a company with such a long history would have a much more complex past, yet the company has enjoyed uncomplicated success throughout the years by offering simple, American-made products that are both affordable and effective.
To this day, Rosebud Perfume Co. has only a small catalog of products that are still manufactured in Maryland from original recipes and shipped to retailers around the world from its one location in the Rosebud Building.
To learn more, visit rosebudperfume.com.
November 4, 2015
Woolrich: Woven into America’s History
When Woolrich Woolen Mills first opened in central Pennsylvania in 1830, the U.S. was a nation of 24 states and the Oregon Trail was the main route west. Nearly two centuries later, the Pennsylvania-based company that once provided wool blankets to soldiers in the Civil War continues to produce some of the country’s finest woolen products today.
Photo credit: facebook.com/woolrichinc
America’s Longest Running Wool Mill
Woolrich got started when John Rich, an English immigrant, built his first woolen mill in Plum Run, Pa. From his mule cart, Rich sold his quality fabrics to loggers, hunters, miners and other outdoorsmen all across Pennsylvania. By 1845, Rich expanded the mill and moved operations to what is now Woolrich, Pa., a small company town that he established and that continued to grow alongside Woolrich.
Today, the little town of Woolrich is still headquarters for the company, but the business has grown to a global brand with a variety of outdoor-inspired products, including men’s and women’s clothing and outdoor furniture.
What has not changed over the years, however, is Woolrich’s commitment to quality, value and American manufacturing.
“While we are an international company, who sells to many customers in many countries, our hearts and roots are here in Woolrich, Pa.,” said Joyce Raesner, director of Woolrich Woolen Mills in an article. “We’re proud to say, ‘Made in America.’”
Woolrich is the longest continuously running woolen mill in the U.S.
To learn more visit, woolrich.com.
October 30, 2015
Lutron Electronics: Softening the Lights of America’s Homes Since 1961
When physicist Joel Spira launched Lutron Electronics in 1961, it’s doubtful he realized the impact his small company in Coopersburg, Penn. would have on America’s electrical evolution. It all started with Spira’s invention of the world’s first solid-state device that enabled people to vary the intensity of the lights in their homes.
Photo credit: facebook.com/Lutron
A Switch in Innovation
In the late 1950s, dimming lights was a complex and costly affair, requiring bulky rheostats that absorbed a lot of energy and generated a great deal of heat. Therefore, dimming was limited to theater lighting, and not something most people would have considered for their own homes.
That all changed in 1959, when Spira developed a solid-state dimmer that could replace the light switch in a standard residential wallbox. The solid-state dimmer or “dimmer switch” made dimming, a feature once limited to theater lighting and similar needs, available to every home.
A “Solid-State” of American History
Over the years, Lutron’s business has continued to grow dramatically, both domestically and internationally. Despite its growth, Lutron continues to manufacture its products in the U.S. and the Coopersburg, Penn. company is now a global enterprise with more than 15,000 products that can control lights and temperatures in homes and buildings of all sizes.
Today, Spira’s first technological innovations, including an early version of the original solid-state dimmer, can be found on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in the company of inventions by Thomas Edison and Alexander Graham Bell.
To learn more about Lutron, visit lutron.com.
October 23, 2015
Wiffle Ball: Soaring Through America Since 1953
It may not be considered America’s pastime, but since the early 1950s Wiffle Ball has been an American staple. Started in 1953 by David N. Mullany, Wiffle Ball Inc. has changed very little since it first debuted its original products, including its commitment to producing the highest quality product at an affordable price, all right here in the U.S.
Photo credit: facebook.com/WiffleBallInc
A Curve in American Manufacturing
It all started in the summer of 1953 when Mullany watched his 12-year-old son and a friend play a game of baseball in their backyard using a perforated plastic golf ball and a broomstick handle. After days of trying to throw curve balls, Mullany’s son complained of his arm hurting. In an attempt to safeguard his son’s pitching arm from injury, Mullany designed a ball using plastic parts from a nearby factory that curved easily when thrown. And Wiffle Balls have been soaring through backyards ever since.
Over the years, Wiffle Ball, Inc. has refused several attempts by larger toy companies to buy the business and make the product cheaper overseas. Now in its third generation, the family-owned and operated company remains committed to providing quality, American-made products to its customers. For more than 60 years, Wiffle Ball has been making its bats and balls in the U.S. at the same Shelton, Conn. factory into which the company first moved back in 1959. And it plans on keeping it that way, too.
“We’re very happy producing our products here,” said David J. Mullany, president of Wiffle Ball Inc. in an article. “No reason we can’t make a top-quality product here at an affordable price and stay in business.”
To learn more, visit wiffle.com.
October 16, 2015
Slinky: America’s Most Recognized Toy
In 1943, Richard James, a naval mechanical engineer stationed at Philadelphia’s William Cramp & Sons Shipyards, was developing springs that could keep sensitive ship equipment steady at sea. After knocking one of the springs from a shelf, James noticed that the spring began to move strangely. James watched as “the spring ‘stepped’ in a series of arcs to a stack of books, to a tabletop, and to the floor, where it re-coiled itself and stood upright.” The spring, which never functioned at sea the way it was intended, was reborn as a toy called Slinky.
Photo credit: poof-slinky.com
Springing into Action
In 1945, Richard and his wife Betty borrowed $500 to begin manufacturing a small number of Slinkys. Though little interest was shown in his creation at first, a Gimbel’s department store in Philadelphia agreed to let James demonstrate the product just before Christmas. Slinky was a hit. The first 400 units were sold within 90 minutes, and the rest is history.
Today, Slinky is one of the best-selling American-made toys with more than 300 million units sold in its first 60 years. Slinkys are sold at more than 35,000 retailers, but are made out of one manufacturing facility. Slinky has been made in the U.S. since its inception in the 1940s, in the same town, Hollidaysburg, Pa., where the first Slinky was made more than 70 years ago.
Created by accident, Skinky has effortlessly glided its way down millions of household steps all across the world and into its current place as one of the most famous toys in American history.
Learn more at poof-slinky.com.
October 9, 2015
Duraflame Sparks American Manufacturing
In 1968, when California Cedar Products Company was producing pencils, it found it could recycle the sawdust created in the wood manufacturing process by mixing it with petroleum wax to make a whole new type of fireplace log. The company named the new product the Duraflame firelog.
What originally began as an attempt to recycle leftover sawdust has sparked the firelog industry in America and led to the creation of Duraflame, Inc., America’s leading manufacturer of firelogs.
Photo credit: duraflame.com
In the early 1970’s, Duraflame’s first ever wood-wax blend of the Duraflame firelog quickly revolutionized what people burned in their fireplaces. The firewood alternative provided convenience and cleaner burning benefits that gained popularity among consumers. It also helped Duraflame’s sales takeoff like wildfire.
By the mid 1970’s, Duraflame firelogs had captured 50% of the artificial firelog market in the U.S. In 1986, Duraflame, Inc. became independently owned and operated out of its headquarters in Stockton, Calif.
Today, the company is still headquartered in Stockton and controls more than 40 percent of the firelog market, selling millions of firelogs each year. And every single Duraflame product is made right here in America out of its two manufacturing plants in California and Kentucky, which employ more than 200 people. Between the two plants, they produce over 14,000 miles of firelogs each year.
For more than 40 years, Duraflame has been enhancing the way people “enjoy one of man’s oldest discoveries” and has become the best friend of fireplace owners, barbecuers, bonfire-goers and s’more lovers all across America.
To learn more, visit duraflame.com.
October 2, 2015
Stetson: Outfitting America Since 1865
In the early 1860s, unable to enlist to serve in the Civil War due to poor health, John B. Stetson headed out West to Pikes Peak, Colo., a gold-mining hub where he thought he might be able to find fortune.
While Stetson never struck gold, he did create a way to keep shield himself from the daytime sun, wind, and rain. Using felted fur shavings, Stetson created a wide-brimmed, water repellent hat to protect himself from the elements. It was at that moment that the John B. Stetson Hat Company was created and an icon of the American West was made.
Photo credit: facebook.com/Stetson
The World’s Largest Hat Maker
In 1865, Stetson left Colorado and went to Philadelphia to set up a factory where he created the original “Boss of the Plains,” a Western hat that would become the cornerstone of Stetson’s hat business, and one that is still in production today. Stetson soon became synonymous with American-made quality, durability, beauty and the cowboy.
By the early 20the century, Stetson owned the world’s largest hat factory in Philadelphia. The 25 building factory covered nine acres of ground, employed 5,400 people and was producing more than 3.3 million hats a year – all right here in America.
More than Just a Prop
Since the beginning, the quality craftsmanship of a Stetson hat has made it a popular accessory among celebrities and Hollywood film makers. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Stetsons graced the heads of Colonel William F. Cody “Buffalo Bill”, Calamity Jane, Will Rogers and Annie Oakley. More recently, Stetsons have been featured in hit movies like Indiana Jones, Urban Cowboy and Django Unchained. But a Stetson hat is so much more than just a prop in a movie.
“Stetson isn’t only great because of who has worn them,” says Ricky Bolin, general manager of Hatco, which manufactures Stetson Hats in Garland, Texas, in an article. “Stetson is also great because they’ve been made in America continuously for the last 150 years following the same principles laid out all that time ago. We still follow them today.”
More than 36 hand-finishing steps go into the creation of a Stetson hat. Much of the original tooling and machinery from the early twentieth century is still used daily in its Garland, Texas factory today.
Long symbolizing the hardworking frontiers of the American West, Stetson has evolved into a legendary brand, offering premium, American-made quality cowboy hats, western wear and cowboy boots.
To learn more about Stetson hats, visit stetson.com.