People to Watch in 2016:
Alex Lee

The August 17 edition of HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® revealed the 10th Annual “Players,” 20 people to watch in housewares during the next 12 months.

Selected by HomeWorld Business editors, the Players represent a cross section of a diverse housewares business— from established to newly installed company leaders; from large to small operations, from big-box to specialty retailers; from trade show managers to celebrity endorsers.

The HomeWorld Players are in the spotlight not only for how they might impact their respective organizations in the coming months, but also for how they might impact the overall housewares business.

Player’s Credentials: In an industry where executive level change is commonplace, Oxo president Alex Lee has long been a familiar face with the kitchenware supplier. With his time at Oxo dating back to the days when Sam Farber and the company were working to find its place in a crowded housewares marketplace with a mere 15 SKUs, Lee has seen Oxo continue to grow driven by a continued commitment to developing products that provide solutions to problems.

“With any creative company, it’s always about managed chaos,” Lee previously told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. “While it’s a fine line between chaos and having a political process, we have over the years learned to ride that line.”

What To Watch: Best known for its assortment of gadgets and kitchen tools, home storage and cleaning products, Oxo over the past year has introduced assortments in three major categories— electrics, cookware and bakeware. When developing products in each category, Lee kept Oxo focused on being Oxo, meaning that the products presented must offer unique features and not just copycat items already on the market. 

“People think of Oxo as a problem solver and not just a gadget maker,” Lee said. “When you take that mindset, then you have a whole world out there.”

While Oxo has gained placement for its cookware, the company’s strong retail relationships along with its long track record of successful products should present Lee and his team with new housewares sales opportunities.

Perspective: As Oxo expanded, a big challenges was developing products that would not tarnish its brand equity. The three aforementioned categories at mass retail are largely driven by product developed to hit key pricepoints. But Oxo chose to bring to market products with unique features at the mid-tier and higher-end levels. “We’re not the big dog that has long-term relationships with factories and can buy in volume,” Lee said. “That is why we decided to go with products on the high end that also allows us to do something different and more meaningful.”