American Made Matters: What You Can Do for Your Country and Our Future

Excerpt taken from the October issue of the American Made Matters newsletter.  Read the full newsletter at: http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=871c9aa298965aec239993e04&id=d6d8c85160&e=2a2f75becb

   THE AMERICAN DREAM MATTERS
 
   Most Americans can trace their lineage back to a foreign ancestry.
   America’s settlers were poor families, adventurers and exiles, seeking a
   place where they could establish a better life. Millions from dozens of
   countries have come to America for the opportunity to find work and   benefit from the fruits of their labor. They came to provide a better life for their families, an education for their children and to own a home. They came with hope and dreams and anything was possible. For generations, American men and women have worked for a better future. This is the American Dream.

More at http://www.americanmadematters.com/the-american-dream-matters.html

MEMBER PROFILE
  
   Company Name & Location:
   K’NEX - the American building toy company and The Rodon Group -  an American small   plastic parts injection molding expert.

   http://www.knex.com
   http://www.rodongroup.com

   Years in Business:
   Founded in 1956, we are a third generation family business with 177
   employees.

   Principal line of business:
   For K’NEX, our primary business is building toys - focusing on Building
   World Kids Love – which has resulted in Sesame Street®, NASCAR®, Monster
   Jam® and Mario Kart® Wii-licensed K’NEX building sets along with K’NEX
   branded building sets for kids ages 2 – 12. For Rodon, we are an ISO
   9001:2008 certified landfill-free, small plastics parts specialist for over
   40 industries and make billions of parts each year in our 125,000 square
   foot facility.

   Social Media page information:
   Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/buildknex

   Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/rodongroup
   
   Blog:  http://info.rodongroup.com/

   How are you using the logo on products, website or marketing materials?  
   We use the American Made Logo on our Made in the USA toys, on our websites
   for both K’NEX and Rodon and as part of our social media presence.  American
   made is part of our DNA and culture.

   Why does American Made Matter to you?
   It matters to us because we believe a nation that makes things is a nation
   that controls its own destiny.  We believe that doing everything we can to
   manufacture toys and component parts in America helps create an economy full
   of good paying jobs and helping others achieve their American dream.

   Has your company won any awards recently?
   2011 Inductees into the Made in the USA Hall of Fame. Administered by the
   Made in the USA Foundation, the Made in the USA Hall of Fame was established
   to celebrate the best that America produces.

   K’NEX has been named a 2011 National Parenting Publications Award (NAPPA)
   winner for its Mario Kart Wii™ Mario and Standard Kart Building Set

   K'NEX, America’s building toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids
   Love™, is pleased to be among the manufacturers included in the annual
   Toys“R”Us Holiday Hot Toy List.

   What’s your vision for the future of your company?
   We are the only company that makes toys on a mass scale in America.  We set
   a goal 3 years ago of making a majority of our toys in America.  At the time
   less than 20 percent of our toys were made here.  Today, over 90 percent of
   the parts and over 60 percent of the finished goods are made in the USA.  We
   have increased our workforce by over 10 percent during that time.  We have
   set a goal of having over 80 percent of our toys made in the USA by 2015,
   and are ahead of schedule to our goal. Consumers are telling us they want
   toys made here as long as the value is there. We make sure our retail prices
   for over 80 percent of our toys are under $25, and have more play value than
   our competition.

   For Rodon, 100 percent of everything we manufacture is made here.  We have
   been leaders in educating people on the many advantages of made in America.
   We have developed a formula so we can be cheaper than China with better
   quality and a much shorter supply chain.  That message is resonating - we
   grew 27 percent in 2010, and are on pace for 2011 to be 17-20 percent ahead
   of 2010.

   How do you balance US and foreign manufacturing for your company?
   We are encouraged by the recent resurgence in jobs coming back into the U.S.
   from overseas, particularly China. Fortunately for us, a lot of that has
   been driven by regulatory and documentation issues in the Far East in
   compliance with some food and beverage, and children’s toy regulations where
   they were unable to comply. Some of our new customers got nervous and
   decided they really needed to come back stateside. A company like ours was
   more than ready for this. With our high-volume model—we have 106 machines
   and six operators, we have knocked the labor burden out—coupled with our ad
   campaign we call ‘Cheaper than China,’ our business has been up
   significantly over the past few years.

   How do you get the message out to your customers that you are manufacturing
   in the USA? Is it important to your customers that you manufacture in the
   USA? As we continue to grow in both our businesses, we will keep American
   Made as a focus for us.  We believe that we must do all we can to support
   our national economy.  We are proud to be a part of a group like American
   Made Matters, who educates consumers in a non-partisan way about how they
   can find products they like and need while helping our country at the same
   time.

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K’NEX/Rodon Team Makes Strong Case for U.S. Manufacturing

Article covered in MoldMaking Technology Magazine-October, 2011 issue

Rodon takes a solid relationship with toy giant K’NEX and applies its business model to other manufacturers—taking domestic manufacturing to the next level.

The Rodon Group (Hatfield, PA)—a mold manufacturer/molder serving a diverse number of industries like consumer products, medical, construction, pharmaceutical and toys—also is the manufacturer of more than 30 billion parts for the K’NEX building toy system (and is a subsidiary of K’NEX Brands, L.P.). Since its inception, The Rodon Group has attributed its success to a niche of close-tolerance, high-volume parts; and consequently seeking out work from other OEMs that fit into this “model” that Rodon has built with K’NEX.

Building a Business Model

According to Lowell Allen, Rodon’s Senior VP of Manufacturing, Rodon’s beginnings were in the 1940s as ELGO Rubber. The owner of the company, Irv Glickman, realized making rubber was a laborious process so Glickman switched its specialty to thermoplastics as working with this material started gaining popularity in the U.S. In 1956, ELGO purchased a building in Southampton, PA and The Rodon Group was born with four injection molding machines. “Since then, Rodon has grown, to 106 molding machines with servo robots on more than a third of them,” Allen says.

In 1991, the idea for K’NEX came about when Irv’s son Joel had designed and built some toy parts. “Fortunately for Joel he had a nice injection molding company at his disposal,” Allen notes. “K’NEX has grown into a dynamic toy company— and the only toy company making toys on a mass scale in America. Rodon does all of the mold and part design in-house and runs the parts for them. They are a sister company. We are a custom molder/moldmaker first, but this is a perfect fit for us. High-volume, close-tolerance parts is our forte; and the K’NEX work was a nice addition to our standard business. We want to have as wide a base as we can to diversify and not have all of our eggs in one basket. We make over a billion parts a year for K’NEX and just as much for our other customers combined.”

Read the full article at http://www.moldmakingtechnology.com/articles/knexrodon-team-makes-strong-case-for-us-manufacturing

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K'NEX Brands is Pleased to be Among the Manufacturers in the Annual Toys“R”Us Holiday Hot Toy List

K'NEX, America’s building toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love™,  is pleased to be among the manufacturers included in the annual Toys“R”Us Holiday Hot Toy List.  The Holiday Hot Toy List features 36 exciting new items from around the world that are sure to WOW kids on Christmas morning.  

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K’NEX CEO Michael Araten Speaks on Executive Leaders Radio Program

Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’NEX Brands, will appear on Executive Leaders Radio Program broadcasts September 24th-26th.  As part of the elite interview format, Araten shared his views on the opportunities and challenges K’NEX Brands faces.

K’NEX Brands has 2 operating units – K’NEX, the only US construction toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love™; and The Rodon Group, an American custom plastic injection molder specializing in high volume, small plastic parts for over 100 industries. 

“At K’NEX and Rodon, we’ve learned that manufacturing in America is often more cost effective than manufacturing overseas,” said Michael Araten, President and CEO of both K’NEX Brands and The Rodon Group. “We are thrilled to make this kind of quality, cost effective domestic manufacturing available to other businesses looking to eliminate the risks of offshore sourcing.” 

Araten’s interview can be heard on these stations:

Saturday, September 24th on WNJC/1360AM at 4pm (live stream www.wnjc1360.com)

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K’NEX® Inducted into the Made in the USA Hall of Fame

K'NEX, the only US construction toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love™ is pleased to be one of the 2011 inductees into the Made in the USA Hall of Fame. Administered by the Made in the USA Foundation, the Made in the USA Hall of Fame was established to celebrate the best that America produces.  

Out of 76 nominees, 22 companies were selected to join this unique Hall of Fame in 2011. In addition to K’NEX these companies include New Balance®, Ethan Allen®, Harley-Davidson® and other iconic American brands.

“Being inducted into the Made in the USA Hall of Fame is a real honor,” said Michael Araten, President and CEO of K’NEX. “As we approach the 20th anniversary of K’NEX in 2012 our commitment to US manufacturing only grows. Both K’NEX and our sister company The Rodon Group are humbled to be included in this group alongside some of America’s great brands.”

K’NEX Brands has two operating units – K’NEX, the only US construction toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love™; and The Rodon Group, an American custom plastic injection molder specializing in high volume, small plastic parts for over 100 industries. Both K’NEX and The Rodon Group are active members of the organization American Made Matters whose mission is to educate consumers about buying US-made products to help strengthen the American Dream. Both companies are third generation family businesses located in Hatfield, PA where they are proud to be a part of the local community while encouraging American entrepreneurship.

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PA Proud: 'Worlds kids love' created daily

Amazement. K’NEX President and CEO Michael Araten says that it is one of the most common responses he receives when he tells people that K’NEX building toys are manufactured in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. “So many people are used to toys from overseas that they don’t even consider that these products may be manufactured not just in the United States, but in their own backyard,” Araten said. “That is the perception that we’re hoping to change.”

If amazement is the initial response to the news that K’NEX products are manufactured in Hatfield, the sentiment only deepens upon hearing the uniquely American story behind the colorful plastic building sets.

Joel Glickman was 50 years old in 1990 when inspiration struck in the form of cocktail straws at a wedding.

Mr. Glickman, tinkering with the straws, envisioned the possibilities of a construction toy built around the concept of rods (like the straws) and connectors to hold them together.

By the time his idea (now called K’NEX) hit the toy market in late 1992 Mr. Glickman had spent two years refining the concept only to have it rejected by the major toy companies including Hasbro and Mattel.

Committed to the idea, he pushed ahead manufacturing the K’NEX pieces at his family’s plastics factory, The Rodon Group, in Hatfield.

Glickman’s hunch was correct — the idea was a good one and in the nearly 20 years that have followed, the family-owned and operated K’NEX has become one of the world’s leading integrated construction systems for children and the winner of more than 200 international awards and recognitions. The line has grown to include sets with not only rods and connectors but also bricks, personality parts, and motors for movement, now sold by retailers around the world. A focus on Building Worlds Kids Love™ has resulted in Sesame Street, NASCAR, Monster Jam and Mario Kart Wii-licensed K’NEX building sets along with K’NEX branded building sets for kids ages 2–12.

Committed to manufacturing in the United States at a time when most toys are made overseas K’NEX is the only U.S. Construction toy company, with more than 90 percent of its parts still manufactured its by sister company The Rodon Group. In business since 1956, the Rodon Group makes billions of parts each year in its 125,000 square foot eco-friendly facility and is one of the largest family-owned and operated injection molders in the United States. In addition to K’NEX, The Rodon Group serves a diverse group of industries including consumer products, medical, construction, and pharmaceutical.

“At K’NEX and Rodon, we’ve learned that manufacturing in America can actually be more cost-effective than manufacturing overseas,” said Araten.

“Furthermore our nation was founded on an entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to shape our own growth by inventing and making everything we use. Continuing to shed our manufacturing base is akin to trying to run a race without running shoes — you can do it, but you are at a tremendous disadvantage.”

It’s a disadvantage that K’NEX is trying to stem through its membership in various Made in America advocacy groups including American Made Matters, headquartered in Adamston, PA. Araten, K’NEX and Rodon are optimistic about the possibility of bringing more manufacturing jobs to America and increasing the understanding of why American made matters among consumers. It’s just another challenge for a company used to surprising doubters — a fact made even clearer by the rejection letters that line the walls of K’NEX Headquarters as a constant reminder that in America all things are possible.

Article appears in Philadelphia Suburban Media Network newspapers- June 24, 2011
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Rodon Combines Competitive Pricing with Toy Industry Expertise

K’NEX Brands, the only U.S. construction toy company focused on Building Worlds Kids Love™, announced that its sister company, The Rodon Group, is also available to provide contract manufacturing services for businesses looking to produce plastic parts stateside.

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