Made in USA Space Heater? Welcome to My Alternate Universe.
Suarez Corporation Industries, a company that describes itself as a multichannel marketing company that sells products as diverse as portable heaters and fashion jewelry, plans to take part of the former Hoover vacuum cleaner plant in North Canton for a new manufacturing and distribution operation…
"This is a milestone for our company," Ben Suarez, founder and CEO, said in a statement. “Our best-selling EdenPure Infrared Portable Heater will now be built in America, using an entirely American supply chain. Many of the components are unique and proprietary to us, such as the 500-watt quartz bulbs developed and manufactured to our specifications by Osram Sylvania Lamp Technology in New Jersey."
--May 10, 2011, Crain's Cleveland Business
I'm living in an alternate universe. A place where today, for example, I'm pretty darned excited about space heaters and vacuum cleaners, so excited that I have to fight the urge to call my family and friends and say: "Guess what? There's actually an American company planning to manufacture vacuum cleaners right here in our country. Isn't that amazing?"
So instead I called Lauren Capo, public relations representative for Suarez Corporation Industries (SCI), the North Canton, Ohio-based direct marketing company referred to at the top of this post. Lauren's worked for the company for over a decade and sounded thrilled to be part of the team. "We're very proud of what we're doing here," she said. What they're doing is saving the very jobs that were lost when Hoover vacuum fled America. They are doing so without stimulus money or government help. They are doing so in a profitable manner. They should be proud. We should all be proud of them, too.
Let me back up for a moment. A week ago, just as the autumn temps dipped, our relatively inexpensive China-made "Pacific Living Home" brand space heater broke. We'd bought it a couple of years ago at a big box store. Don used it winter evenings as he worked on patient charts; I used it during the day as I wrote. It supplemented our furnace and saved us money on our heating bill. But the nifty little space heater suddenly stopped delivering heat. One day it worked, the next it didn't. A sticker on the side reads: DO NOT OPEN. NO USER SERVICEABLE PARTS INSIDE. It may as well have said TAKE TO NEAREST DUMP.
"I have to head over to Home Deep for some stuff," Don said shortly after the heater pooped out. "I'll pick up a new heater there." I looked up from my laptop, shot him a just say no to imports look. But we've been at this project for nearly a year. It's wearing thin. I couldn't blame him for wanting to run out and grab a new heater as we'd always done in the past. "Hang on a sec," I said, and Googled "Made in USA space heaters." Up popped names I wasn't familiar with: Suarez Corporation Industries, EdenPure. "Wait," I said, pointing to the computer screen. "What's this?"
"EdenPure U.S. Personal Heater, Made in the U.S.A." Cost: $197. Don slapped his chest and made a choking sound. Space heaters typically cost maybe $75. A phone call to the 800 number confirmed that it was in fact, made in the U.S.A. We decided to take the plunge.
The company's website says SCI founder and CEO Ben Suarez is "living the American dream." His business has grown from:
a small family operation into one of Stark County's largest employers. All SCI associates share a powerful entrepreneurial spirit. Every SCI associate stands to gain financial rewards for their marketing ideas or new product concepts. And every SCI associate can benefit from the success of these new promotions through profit sharing.
SCI boasts 100 million dollars in annual sales. EdenPure heaters are a huge part of that success. The 200,000 square foot North Canton factory employs 275 full-time workers who churn out "26,000 heater units a week," according to Lauren Capo. Beginning next week, to keep up with orders, the factory will run "24 hours a day." There's meticulous attention to every aspect of the production, Capo explained. You just can't get that kind of quality manufacturing overseas. "We have strict quality controls. Not to knock China, but we can make it here better." Oh go ahead, Lauren. Knock China.
At this point, 85 percent of the company's heaters are manufactured here. But the company plans to expand its American manufacturing. In an interview with the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Suarez said his own marketing research shows that American consumers want products that are manufactured here. There's a "30 percent increase in consideration when products include a 'Made in the U.S.A.' label."
In addition, SCI prides itself on customer satisfaction. All products offer a "100 percent money back guarantee." EdenPure heaters also carry a five year warranty on parts and labor. They're available online (edenpure.com) and at 700 retail stores nationwide, including Sears, Ace and True Value.
Most important, Lauren added, is that infrared heat--which EdenPure took years to develop and perfect--is "safer since it's completely inside and non-combustible." All other portable heaters currently on the market use ceramic heat.
As we ended our phone conversation, I asked Lauren about vacuum cleaners. An article I'd found online mentioned that Ben Suarez was developing a 100 percent American-made vacuum cleaner. "That's correct," Lauren said, excited about this newest product to come down the SCI pike. "But I can't divulge any information about it now, only that it'll be ready soon."
Our new EdenPure heater should arrive any moment. Meanwhile, the temps keep dropping. There was frost on our rooftop this morning. I hope it's a good product because--true confessions here--we decided to pop for the more expensive "Gen 4" model ($397). Gulp. It's 100 percent Made in the U.S.A., of course, and will heat a larger area than the smaller personal heater. We shall see. If it's as great as it sounds, I'll definitely check out the company's new vacuum. Can't wait to find out.
Alternate universe, no doubt about it. But you understand, right?