Tabletop Capitalizes On U.S.-Made Market Advantages

NEW YORK— While retailers in the past have been challenged to fully embrace Made in America product lines, often due to higher pricepoints, vendors have noted a recent uptick in interest within the tabletop category.

Vendors that spoke to HOMEWORLD BUSINESS® attributed that growing interest to a number of factors including the current political climate, Millennial mindsets toward responsible purchasing of goods and advantages at retail such as shorter lead times.

Michele Barbone, director of marketing at Lenox, noted that Made in America resonates domestically in the tableware, entertaining and gifting categories, with growth in tableware at about 2% a year.

Dana Dowdy, director of marketing at ThermoServ, added, “Retail buyers are starting to see the advantages of sourcing domestically manufactured products. As the challenges of importing rise, many customers seem to be looking for product partners that are in their backyard and can offer better support and service alongside high quality products.”

Jess Sailey, product category manager at Arc International Americas, added that the company has made a bigger effort within the last 10 years to call out the “Made in USA” aspect of its product lines. “We feel this is important to the American consumer, and if given a choice, with all other factors being equal, they would choose a product made in the U.S. over an imported item,” she said.

Some manufacturers have increased their investment in domestic manufacturing capabilities, expanding their abilities to service their retail partners with shortened lead times and quality control.

In recent years, for example, ThermoServ said it has invested several millions of dollars in transforming not only its facilities and equipment, but also its organization as a whole.

“In the past year alone, we have gone through two strategic acquisitions to grow our product line and manufacturing capabilities, and we have invested over $2 million in new equipment, including six new molding machines and advanced robotics for our facility. We are also investing in our organization’s talent and resources across the board to support our future growth and ensure we can meet the needs of our business in the years to come,” said Dowdy.

Sailey noted that Arc too is constantly investing in its U.S. manufacturing site with updated, more efficient equipment in an effort to insure it is efficient on all levels. In addition, she said the company is also now putting focus on building infrastructure to support e-commerce.

Due to its domestic manufacturing and constant investments, several opportunities abound for the vendor.

“We have shorter lead times and we have better control over product production flow and quality since our factory is right next door to our North American corporate offices in New Jersey,” she said.

For Lenox, Barbone noted that the company continues to support its factory in Kinston, NC. As personalization has grown for the company, she said, it has made adjustments within the facility to improve its direct to consumer shipping through the factory. As direct to consumer continues to grow, not only for but for partners as well, she added, these types of investments in its factory and distribution centers will continue to be a focus and a place the company will invest.

She added, “Domestic manufacturing allows us to test new ideas and bring those ideas to market more quickly. With a shorter manufacturing window we can react to trends and capitalize on those trends. Personalization is also a growing need and all of our personalized dinnerware and gifts are made in our Kinston facility. The ability to personalize locally gives us a huge advantage to our competition.”

However, some vendors noted that while Made in America continues to draw strength in the market, price is still king.

“Some retailers feel the Made in America image is better and there is also value added, so they are willing to pay a bit more for Made in America, but not significantly more,” said Sailey.