I decided to take our foreign competition head-on by becoming the only one in our industry making our products in the USA! I have a very unique company here. No-one did license rubber ducks as the intricacy in the sculpting and painting we offered was unheard of. We ended up selling millions of ducks and creating a whole new company that does a line of celebrity rubber ducks that were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly and featured on hundreds of TV shows, magazines, and newspapers including The Tonight Show. I’ll post our press kit letter below. We’re also considered the top custom duck manufacturer in the world.
But over time, I also wanted to do something right and make some kind of difference in the lives of people here in America. I got so tired of seeing the loss of jobs and industries in America and everything is outsourced. It was very sad to see so many Americans losing their jobs. I saw companies unwilling to take the risk of bringing their manufacturing back here. For me, it was very important to bring a whole industry back to America.
Thus, I finally decided that I had to do something. The rubber duck was actually invented in the USA. Now every rubber duck was being made overseas. We decided to bring the whole rubber duck industry back here and are now the only ones making them in America once again! We’re actually making them in New York City whereas it turns out some of the first rubber ducks were invented in the 1800’s!
You read a lot today about industry returning to America. I really want to make something clear about this. You might see bigger molded plastic parts and such coming back here and more robotics and so forth, but the small hand-painted toy industry which also uses rotational molding is virtually gone and is NOT easily coming back at all. It is just too much handwork to do the painting of small toy-like items plus with all the EPA regulations, most of the rotational molders could not survive. Still, there are a few of us left and out of the ashes, in our own small way, we are helping to keep this industry alive.
In the Made in America section on our website, you can read more about our story. I knew from the start that it would be a very expensive and big risk. But I never knew just how much the technical skills had been lost here and how much work it would take to get it all re-established. Honestly, it was a disaster which is why I first called it a failure. No-one could make them correctly and we were getting our asses kicked. It seemed like a tremendous mistake. I was on the verge of losing so much money plus missing deadlines with our custom work that was unheard of for us.
I always joked that if I didn’t own the company 100% I would have been fired. There was no way I was “maximizing shareholder value” in the short run. But I knew in the long run, it should put us in deadlines and do smaller production runs that our competition cannot. And the quality and safety of our items are as good as it gets. Truth is that we are now in a fabulous position as we own our niche. No-one else will ever try doing what we did and making rubber ducks in America…trust me! We can also make shorter is a lot of people want things made in America, something our foreign competition obviously cannot duplicate.
In terms of other benefits, we now have companies from Harley-Davidson to The Future Farmers of America wanting us to make ducks made for them in America and we are getting national PR which has been wonderful for the company. It has been very emotionally rewarding doing this and they are now some of our most successful products. In fact, a national TV show just shot an episode of how a rubber duck is made at our factory which will air nationally in May all over North America and Europe! You can watch a clip of it at the top of the Made in America section on our website.
I’m a big fan of Milton Hershey who failed in business so many times that it seemed there was no hope for him. And yet not only did he persevere and make it work but gave away his life’s fortune while he was still alive donating it all to do good for others. That’s the way to live your life. Also, I learned a lot of good lessons, the biggest being that nothing is impossible if you really hang in there and have faith in your vision. I also realized that like any good business venture, do all your research and then really do a LOT more.
I will say that without a doubt the most stressful and financially difficult venture I have ever taken on in my life. That being said, sometimes you just have to do what is right and look at a bigger picture. We chose to embrace change and never look back…or as it says on the hang-tag on our new 100% made in America Pork Chopper biker duck…”live free, float free!”
By the way, on the website you will see that we brought on a new factory outside Detroit where we are now making our Good Ducks, the only duck on the market that is 100% made in the USA and PVC, Phthalate, and BPA free using medical grade materials. The bottom line, I am now doing things in America that even Asia cannot duplicate. It really is an amazing story. In the end, these ducks are now our top-selling items. Out of the embers of one’s failures can come amazing things.
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