Manufacturing Joy for the Holiday Season
Depending on who you talk to, the “reason for the season” can be various things. To our Christian friends Jesus is the reason, and for our Jewish friends we celebrate the miracle of the lamp oil lasting 8 days for the Maccabees. In modern days, many – if not most – of us find another reason for this season: Grateful Giving that brings joy to others. There truly is something magical about the look on someone’s face when you give them a gift. It seems that the more thoughtful a gift, the more satisfaction it brings to both the recipient and the giver.
We at Re:Build Optimation take great satisfaction in watching people give and receive gifts that have been made in the USA. It’s almost like there’s a gift given to our community when gifts are exchanged between individuals, but the creator happened to be a domestic creator. It’s at the least an investment in our mutual sustainability. So, the next time you look under a Christmas Tree and see wrapped gifts, or you take part in 8 Crazy Nights of Hanukkah celebrations, think about where each gift was created.
That Peanut Butter Seems Awfully Familiar
In our home food is love – with traditional Italian and Jewish roots we celebrate both Christian and Jewish Holidays and in both cultures that extra helping of food ladled into a bowl or placed on a dinner plate is an expression of care and love. That’s probably why our desert platters are robust and colorful. We probably should thank the likes of George Washington Carver and his peanut innovating compatriots for some of our anchor flavors, though. Every year, my kids make peanut blossoms – you know those Hershey’s Kiss (also Made in the USA) topped peanut butter cookies that look like an elf hat? Yes, those. And, my cousin’s husband Joe makes his mother Jane’s famous Buckeyes – that both look like a deer’s eye AND make us battle over college football. And then there’s the gelt for a good round of dreidel. Some is just chocolate, but everyone knows my favorite is peanut butter filled. Peanuts are part of our holiday palate – and our homemade goods come from Once Again Nut Butter.
Optimation had the privilege of designing a manufacturing plant expansion – a massive one, actually – for Once Again Nut Butter. Their nut butter products are a perfect product for holiday baking use, and we’re thrilled to know that people are using products that we helped bring to life in their holiday traditions. I guess spreading peanut butter spreads joy!
This reminds us that everything you’ll enjoy this holiday season – from gifts to foods to music – was MADE by someone. We see manufacturing everywhere, and we’re HUGE FANS of well crafted products made right here in the USA.
We are big fans.
As career manufacturers, we’re very big fans of seeing fellow manufacturers succeed in creating and marketing products. Manufacturing means jobs. Jobs means paychecks that help families. And, when giftable products are manufactured we see the beauty in how those products are bringing joy as a gift as well as helping to sustain jobs. It’s a two way gift and that’s something to be overjoyed about!
As big fans of manufacturing, we watch our peers create, and we take note of some Made In America items that we can gift, and you can too. Here’s a short list of products made here in the USA that have our attention this year.
In no particular order, we’re excited about:
Gifts for the Kitchen –
Cutco Knives (Olean, NY)
Cutco knives are great blades. Many upscale kitchens across the world have the classic butcher block counter top knife holder with fine crafted stainless Cutco Knives in them. Made here in NY not too far from our offices – a few hours away – these blades are tough, well-designed, and an investment in a lifetime of home culinary arts. https://www.cutco.com/
Zeroll Ice Cream Scoop (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)
That pie you’re about to scoop ought to be a la mode – and Zeroll Ice Cream Scoops are the classic American way to get a perfectly rolled scoop to top your dessert. This American Manufactured scoop calls to mind days gone bye and is a heart-warming classic moment when held in your hand. https://zeroll.com/
Heirloom Wooden Biscuit Cutters (Smyrna, TN)
Warm biscuits are a country kitchen’s centerpiece at breakfast. Cutting them is easy enough, but cutting them in style is another thing. Heirloom Wooden Biscuit Cutters, made in the heart of Tennessee at Riley Land are a stylish way to say to your Grandma, “I appreciate you” and “You’re a memory baker in my life”. Ahh, yes, food and flavor do dot the memories of our lives and many a Grandparent has been a “Memory Baker”, have they not?
Gifts for the Kids –
Crayola Crayons (LeHigh Valley, Pennsylvania)
If you’ve never seen an episode of How It’s Made featuring crayons, you gotta see it. This artistic tool built for youth and the young at heart is a classic gift that cannot be ignored – and, parents, it’s screen-time-free! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJNIqdP3xCo
Lincoln Logs (Burnham, ME)
Truth: The more grey your hair, the more likely you are to remember these gems. Not too long ago, Lincoln Logs were owned by Kinex – a plastic building toy. That company has since gone away and now Basic Fun (which is co-owned by Shaqulle O’Neil!) has purchased the product and relocated it’s manufacturing to Maine! We highly recommend toys that challenge the mind to creatively build and design. These are many an architect, framer, roofer, and engineer’s first foray into their future careers! Think of it as VERY EARLY apprenticeship. https://www.basicfun.com/lincolnlogs/index.html INSERT GIF >> https://tenor.com/YElI.gif https://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/news/woodworking-industry-news/lincoln-logs-returned-made-usa-real-wood-turns-100
Dinosaur cookie cutters (Vermont)
This gift is a great learning toy! Really… imagine gifting these all U.S. steel, made in Vermont dinosaur cookie cutters to a dinosaur enthusiast. Pair that with the ingredients and recipe for a classic sugar cookie and royal icing, and you have a “roarsome” learning experience in the kitchen. And, we manufacturing geeks know that the kitchen involves math, chemistry, batch planning, and fine arts all at once! https://ohsayusa.com/dinosaur-cookie-cutter-set/
Thomas Kinkade Disney Puzzles (Newton, MA)
The majestic creations of the famed artists Thomas Kinkade are often associated with the holidays and, in country kitchens, they’re a year round decor feature. Kinkade’s works have been made into puzzles for decades, and those puzzles are made right here in the USA. Sure, this gift could be for kids, but it’s also likely an opportunity for family bonding over a hot chocolate this holiday, so consider this gift a family treat. https://thomaskinkade.com/product-category/other/puzzle/?gclid=Cj0KCQiA4uCcBhDdARIsAH5jyUlUyu1qKFJ1qflKmmwTv5UwzEeRsOaxV_iR2cqKFZp_kwP6kDruu6YaAufOEALw_wcB
Gifts for the Industrious & Adventurous –
Zippo Brand Lighters (Bradford, PA)
The classic Zippo is the flagship of lighters. Anyone who camps and cooks outdoors knows that a windproof lighter is a handy tool. This is a camping enthusiast’s classic option. And, yes, if you happen to know someone who enjoys a fine cigar now, and then it’s a classy add to their kit. https://www.zippo.com/
Leatherman Knives (Portland, OR)
Ask around at Optimation, and you’ll find that not only do we all know the Leatherman brand of knives, most of us have one. Well crafted, trustworthy, and backed by a great warranty, we know this is a jewel in the American hand tool and personal EDC (every day carry) landscape. https://www.leatherman.com/home
Harley Davidson (WI, MO, PA)
Yes, this one is quite a gift and likely more often a self-gift, but hey… it’s AWESOME and made right here. In fact, Harley is pretty clear about what they do with these kings of the road. They assemble them here, and make most of the parts here with the exception of piston heads and limited electronics which are foreign sourced. Notice how rare this is… most vehicles made in the USA are assembled from parts sourced from all over the world. Harley is one of the MOST Made in the USA vehicles we know of! https://www.harley-davidson.com/us/en/index.html
Stetson Hats (Garland, TX)
Classic. The Stetson Hat brand is the quintessential farm attire fit for ring side, countryside and a formal country dinner (take it off before sitting down, gents). These hats last a lifetime thanks to the craftsmanship of American hands and their close attention to detail. Between Harley and Stetson these may be the “most American” items on our list! https://stetson.com/
Maglite (Ontario, CA)
I remember my first real flashlight was a 4-inch-long pen light – solid metal, red, set on a cord so that I wouldn’t drop it. It was a Maglight, and it made me feel like I was grown up. I felt that way because the men who were guiding me to learn to fix a car, frame, and drywall, and even build sets for theatrical shows, were committed to using excellent equipment and each of them had a Maglight. This American Made tool is symbolic of high function, minimalist form, and confidence that lights the way. https://maglite.com/
Lincoln Welders (Cleveland, OH)
I’ve been on a tour of the Lincoln Welding facility in Cleveland, OH. Their massive facility is home to creating many of their welders. They press and laser cut steel, weld frames, assemble and install components, paint, letter and test quality all on one property. Drew Carey and The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame claim “Cleveland Rocks” – we think Cleveland Welds! https://www.lincolnelectric.com/en
Gifts for the Celebration –
- Black Button Bespoke Bourbon Cream (Rochester, NY)
Black Button is a favorite of ours because we’ve had the privilege of working with them. During the pandemic, we helped Black Button as they shifted from spirits to making hand sanitizer. Now they are back to their spirited ways and their high class styling and design of their holiday gift worthy Bourbon Cream will delight a peer who perhaps appreciates an Irish Coffee with their sugar cookies. https://blackbuttondistilling.com/liqueur
- Tervis (Venice, FL)
Originally inspired by dock life, Tervis cups are designed for durability and function – you don’t want glass breaking on a dock or boat – so these plastic cups are ideal for outdoor adventures. Even if you’re not made for the water, you likely have used Tervis products and perhaps gifted them. These are always a great gift – and often have licensed branding available to adorn the exterior with your favorite team. https://www.tervis.com/about-tervis
A Christmas Wish –
As we admire our peers in manufacturing and their great work, it reminds us that we want to see more success domestically. For all the great reasons we mentioned above – jobs providing for families, products that last, building legacies of handed down gifts and memories, and more. The truth is that we’re uniquely positioned to help you create that manufacturing environment for your community. Re:Build Optimation has the ability to Design-Build just about anything you’d need to create products in batches or mass production.
From physical, solid products like a Maglite’s body or, the more chemically based rechargeable batteries inside of a Maglite, to the distillation technology required to make a fine spirit, we can help.
Here are a few of the many capabilities we have that might help you mass produce the great products you want to make here in the USA and sell to a grateful public as they give each other thoughtful and heartfelt gifts for 2023’s giving season.
Web Process/Web Handling: How do you make labels for your products? Labels – just like newspaper, camera film, and even things like thin circuit boards – are processed on webs. A roll of a substrate such as a polymer is unwound and passed through various stages of processes that can treat, heat, cool, coat, print, and more. The product can be re-rolled or cut as needed. The insides of batteries and photovoltaic perovskite solar cells are often created on a web. Your product may thrive in this high-speed manufacturing environment. And, it may be you have not seen how a small modification of what you make could open the doors to utilizing this efficient and cost-effective technology.
Boiler Making: Boilers can be used to boil product or create steam for heat distribution. Consider crayola crayons. Crayons start as a liquid until they are injected in a way similar to plastic injection molding. We design, make and test industrial boiler systems. In fact, in a polar opposite to kid gifts such as crayons, we’ve made boilers for spirit distillation. Also a nice gift, but definitely not for kids.
How do puzzles get mass-produced? Well, you can bet that there’s a printing process that occurs before a cutting and trimming process, which then requires a “breaking up” of the puzzle for packaging. Imagine all those little parts being broken apart. Manual labor could lose parts quite easily, but a process that breaks and packages in one system would be ideal – and we make things like that.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a new idea but use some new tech and some old tech? Paul Van Doren, the founder of Vans, tells a great story in his autobiography about how he once bought out the equipment from a defunct factory and repurposed the equipment for his new Van Doren Rubber Co (which became Vans). It’s a great illustration of how old tech can be quite relevant. We see this a lot. We also see how old tech often requires new applications and modification. We have staff here with a job called “Millwright”. Their job is to tear down and set up equipment. Highly specialized equipment requires the highly versatile and specialized work of a Millwright, and your next venture will likely need that very important skill on your team. We can help you merge old and new tech and get it set up in the right spots.
The bottom line is that the Walt Disney Corporation was right – If you can dream it, you can do it – but he didn’t add the detail that you’ll probably do it with some very special partners. We’re that partner for you. We can help you create the Made In America Gifts that will bring smiles in 2023.
So, in the spirit of our future partnership, go shop local to the USA this year and call us, so we can get ready to build 2023’s next hit gifts.
Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukkah,
The Grateful Dreamers at Re:Build Optimation
A word about the Author
This blog was written by Re:Build Optimations guest blogger and friend Joshua C Pies. References to personal holiday experiences come from Josh’s family, who are based in Rochester, NY and Kissimmee Florida. Josh is the Executive Producer at C47 Film Associates (www.C47Films.com).