Looking Back on the Global Pet Expo – Invention and Opportunity for Manufacturing in the Pet Industry

This year’s Global Pet Expo had all the hallmarks of a booming industry. The show was HUGE. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the Pet Industry Distributors Association (PIDA) are reporting record breaking numbers for retailer booths, buyers, media, and New Product launches!    GMI® is pleased to report that opportunities for manufacturing and manufacturing services were found around every corner.  Pet ownership is growing throughout the US, and the Pet Products market is growing along with it, topping $49 billion in 2012.  More and more, people are treating their pets as members of the family. Now that the economy is recovering, people are spending huge amounts of money on their furry friends, celebrating their birthdays and adding them to the holiday shopping list.  Contract Manufacturers all across the US are taking note of the boom!
More new and innovative products are available for pets than ever before.  The Global Pet Expo’s 2013 New Product Showcase featured more than 900 new products, with over 3000 new product launches at the show.  Being a Pet Products Manufacturer, GMI® had an excellent opportunity to show off our Pet Products (Travel Barriers and Pet Gates) to retailers and buyers at the Global Pet Expo. But it also served as a platform to show off our expertise as a Contract Manufacturer in manufacturing, assembly, fulfillment and packaging.    The products exhibited at Global Pet are the work of small inventors, family owned businesses, and in some cases huge corporations. Attendance at the Global Pet Expo provides all of these diverse companies with exposure to a massive audience of retail buyers, but also to the possibility of lowering their manufacturing, assembly, packaging or fulfillment costs, expanding their manufacturing operations, or outsourcing them completely.  A perfect example from the show took place with a fellow exhibitor on our aisle. He is a pet furniture manufacturer who is quickly growing out of his US manufacturing facility.  He spoke to us about our Wood Manufacturing capabilities and his need to outsource some of his assembly work. We were happy to fill him in! We had many similar inquiries from Exhibitors at the show about our manufacturing, assembly, retail packaging, OEM and fulfillment capabilities, for both small and large scale projects.

 

The boom in the Pet Industry means that almost everything available for a person is now available for a dog or cat:  leashes, strollers, insurance, clothing, electronic devices that allow you to track your pet through your smart phone, camera security systems that allow you to talk to your pet when you’re away from home, and even custom pet beds made to match the interior of your home.  The possibilities for a skilled Contract Manufacturer are endless!

Fulfillment Services with Gateway

At Gateway, we’re here for you throughout every step of your production process. To that end, we don’t just offer manufacturing, but fulfillment services as well. It’s something we’re proud to provide to our customers because we know it saves them money and gives them a competitive advantage.

We do all of our manufacturing as Just in Time (JIT), or built-to-order. When one of our fulfillment clients receives an order, we process it and build it that day or the next, frequently getting products into the hands of our clients’ customers in three or four business days. One of our clients, PupGear, sends us orders from their retail and online stores. We then manufacture the requested product, assemble it, package it, and send it out.

Using Gateway as your company’s fulfillment partner offers many advantages. It eliminates the need to maintain your own warehouse, and the inherent costs therein, such as the cost of shipping finished products from our facility to your warehouse. In addition to saving on order processing, there’s savings on shipping: We’re centrally located here in Kentucky, which provides an advantage to clients of ours on either coast who need to ship orders over a greater distance than we do. When taken into account along with our quick production capabilities, the result is a reduction in the time it takes to get products to customers.

When you choose Gateway for your fulfillment services, you’re saving time and money– and gaining an ally that can help make your company more competitive.

Contract Packaging for Retail Products

Packaging is an essential part of any product. It is the first thing your customers see and the first thing they interact with. High quality packaging helps sell the fact that a high quality product lies within. Here at Gateway we understand this, and take great care with every project we undertake, from kitting to component packaging to final packaging.

Between our extensive experience packaging products for our customers, as well as packaging our own products, we’ve developed great relationships with our material vendors. For example, if our customer’s product needs a box, many times they refer us to their local corrugated supplied. But often times we’re able to get a better price from our supplier, lowering the overall cost of the project for our customer.

Our expertise has also given us the capability to come through in a pinch. A few weeks back a customer called to tell us that they had received a huge shipment of damaged products. The challenge presented to us: Bring the products to our facility, take out the damaged items and re-box the undamaged ones. We got it done in a matter of days, all within the required time frame.

We can handle emergency packaging jobs like the one we described above, as well as long term contracts. We also offer fulfillment services, a topic we’ll discuss in more depth in our next post.

Are Dogs in Your Car a Distraction?

Pet Related Distracted Driving

Holly E. Lewis

GMI® Juvenile & Pet Products

On a recent trip home from the veterinarian, I was pulled over for speeding in a small town because I was talking to my dog, Lassy, who was in the back seat. Attempting to calm her after a round of shots while driving, she was a brief distraction and I lost track of how fast I was driving.

In a recent interview with Kentucky State Police Commissioner, Rodney Brewer, he recounts an incident involving a father and his teenage son who were involved in a collision. After the investigation was completed, it was determined that the collision was a result of swatting a wasp on the windshield- a distraction that we have probably all experienced. The father was killed.  

Thanks to news coverage, blogs, PSA’s, etc… we are hyper aware of the dangers of a quickly growing form of distracted driving –Texting and Smartphone use.  Comparatively little has been written about another source of distracted driving -the family pet.

It is estimated that there are over 78 million dogs owned in the US (according to the American Pet Products Association 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey, 46.3 million U. S. households own at least one pet, a large percentage of them owning at least one dog.) In the 2012 Summer Pet Travel Survey conducted by PetRelocation.com, only 12% of respondents stated they DO NOT TRAVEL WITH THEIR PETS — leaving a whopping  88% of pet owners that do.  Whether it is for a quick trip to the supermarket, a day trip to the local State Park, or a two week trip to the beach, hundreds of thousands of dogs are “coming along for the ride!!” 

So, it is not surprising that there has been an increase in distracted driving incidents involving pets. Although there is not a specific measure for pet-related distracted driving (it is classified with other distractions such as eating, map reading, tuning the radio, putting on make-up or reaching for an item) what is unmistakable is that the number of people traveling with their pets is growing in record numbers.  The organization Paws To Click, who’s mission is to “inspire every pet owner to travel responsibly with their pets,” estimates that an accident occurs every 18 minutes because of a loose pet in a vehicle

A dog in the car, whether you admit it or not, is a distraction. Taking your attention away from the task of driving even for a few seconds can result in a serious accident. KSP Commissioner Brewer is passionate about this growing problem. “Distracted driving continues to be the leading contributor to motor vehicle crashes throughout the Commonwealth [of Kentucky]” he wrote in his Oct, 2012 blog, It Can Wait.  “At 55 mph a vehicle travels the length of a football field in 4.6 seconds. That is like driving 100 yards – essentially blind.”

Daryl Nike driving 4 Best

Are you guilty of any of the situations mentioned in a 2011 AAA / KURGO  sponsored  survey? Think about how long the attention of these drivers was on their pet, and not on driving.

  • 23% of dog owners said that they had used their arms to restrain dogs while applying the brakes in the past year.
  • 17% admitted to having a dog in their lap while driving.
  • Almost 20% of drivers admitted taking their hands completely off of the steering wheel while trying to keep a dog out of the front seat.
  • 18% admitted reaching into the back seat to interact with their dog while driving.

 How about some of the more unlikely situations?

  • Feeding or watering your pet while driving.
  • Taking a picture of your pet while driving.
  • Cleaning up after your pet gets carsick.

Believe it or not, all of these pet interactions were responses to questions on the survey.

Another hazard of unrestrained pets in a vehicle??? We have all experienced coming to an unexpected stop (or “slamming on the brakes”) while driving. Typically, our purse, coffee, duffle bag or briefcase has gone flying into the dashboard or floorboard (sometimes accompanied by some rather choice words…) Take a minute and imagine your family pet flying into the dash. For the same reason you “buckle up” your kids, you need to restrain your pet in a moving vehicle. Consider the safety of all of the occupants of your car. Jennifer Huebner-Davidson, AAA National Traffic Safety Programs manager says, “An unrestrained 10-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert roughly 300 pounds of pressure, while an unrestrained 80-pound dog in a crash at only 30 mph will exert approximately 2,400 pounds of pressure.” In even a low-impact, low-mph crash, your dog can become a projectile, endangering everyone in the vehicle, including your pet.   The danger is evident even in the insurance industry. Contributing Editor for Liberty Mutual’s “The Responsibility Project”, Andrea Bennett wrote about an extreme case of distracted driving in her April, 2012 Blog- The Danger of Driving with Dogs. The article mentioned a South Dakota woman who was pulled over because she was driving with 15 cats in her car! Apparently, she didn’t notice the patrol car because several of the cats were blocking her rear window.  Imagine the chaos if the cats had caused a high speed collision!

 A number of states have begun to pass legislation to create penalties for driving in varying situations with unrestrained pets in the car. According to an ABCNews.com, June 2012 article, “Drivers in Maine, Arizona, Hawaii and Connecticut may be ticketed or cited for distracted-driving if they are carrying their pet in their lap while driving.  Rhode Island and Oregon are considering doing the same. A law currently on the books in New Jersey states:

”Carrying animal in cruel, inhumane manner; disorderly persons offense;  A person who shall carry, or cause to be carried, a living animal or creature in or upon a vehicle or otherwise, in a cruel or inhumane manner, shall be guilty of a disorderly persons offense and punished as provided in subsection a. of R.S.4:22-17.”

 The fines associated with this “Cruelty to Animals” charge in New Jersey can range from $250 to $1,000 and, possibly up to six months in jail. The same state has a pending bill that speaks specifically to Unrestrained Pets. The synopsis reads that the bill “Establishes requirements for pet restraints in passenger automobiles for dogs and cats; establishes failure to comply with requirements as a motor vehicle offense AND an animal cruelty offense.” 

 So, what options do we have when it comes to the important task of restraining your dog in your vehicle? It’s important to evaluate the options best suited for your situation.  Some of the options available today are: pet seatbelts, crates, harnesses and travel barriers.  

If you travel frequently with the family pet, a high quality metal barrier, like the PetShield Travel Barrier– distributed in the US by GMI® Juvenile and Pet Products, is a practical choice.  Travel Barriers come in a variety of styles, materials and sizes, are generally easy to install and adjust (some with no tools required) and can easily be taken out of the vehicle when your pet is not “along for the ride.”  It gives your pet the freedom to move, keeps them out of your lap and keeps the other occupants of your vehicle safe while on the road, especially in the event of an accident.

 A travel barrier like PetShield, might have prevented a high profile 1999 incident involving famed author Stephen King. King was hit head-on by a van, and almost killed while walking along a road near his summer home in Maine. The driver of the van was reportedly trying to keep his Rottweiler out of a cooler full of raw meat in the back seat. 

KSP Commissioner Brewer emphasizes, “There are a myriad of things going on inside of a vehicle. It takes all of our senses and abilities to focus on the task of driving. Anything that minimizes distractions inside the vehicle is welcome in this day and age.”

 Drive Smart! Restrain your pet!

Quest for Quality

We hold the quality of our products and our processes in the highest regard here at Gateway Manufacturing. This dedication is vital to achieving and retaining the trust of our clients. The certifications we abide by and the standard operating procedures we adhere to are evidence of our efforts.

ISO 9001:2008 – ISO is an international standard that speaks to the way a company does business. We document everything—from our manufacturing processes to our training policies to customer issues—according to the guidelines dictated by the ISO quality manual. When you walk into an ISO certified company you know how they do business. Without this certification, there would be no standard, or set process for how we build our products. For example: we could make gates with three slats one day, four the next; or build crates with 25 nails on one production run, and 50 the next. The ISO certification is a guarantee that Gateway offers tried, tested products and repeatable processes that our customers know they can rely on.

Statistical Process Control (SPC) – Following SPC protocols means that a trained SPC Inspector at our facility goes to every production line once every hour and checks every part of the process and product. In this way every process gets checked consistently by a fresh pair of eyes, 8 times per day. If the inspector finds that a part is defective at one point in the process, they go back down the production line a specified number of units to check for further flaws, allowing them to pinpoint where the problem originated and fix it. If further flaws are found, the check is continued until the origin of the problem is pinpointed, diagnosed, and remedied. All data is documented daily.

5S – 5S stands for “Sort, Set, Shine, Standardize, Sustain.” It dictates that everything has a place and everything should be in that place. We go throughout our workstations removing anything that doesn’t belong or isn’t used there. We put everything that should be there in a specific place and outline it, creating a shadow board for tools. We standardize this layout across workstations so everyone knows where everything is. This helps make all of our work more efficient.

Concatenating Quality – Every production operator checks the work of the previous operator. So the second person in a production line checks the work of the first person. The third person in line checks the work of the second person and the first person. By the end of the line every single operator’s work will have been checked by another operator, multiple times.

Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA) – Our child and baby gates are sent out to be tested by the JPMA every quarter. This process has been in place since we first started manufacturing gates back in 1996. There are no products available for children that have not passed the JPMA inspection. When they look at our gates, if there’s a safety issue they point it out, send it back, the issue is remedied, documented and it is sent back for re-testing. They provide us with another set of expert eyes, and strict standards to abide by.

As you can see we check, double check and triple check everything we do, and we record it all. We haven’t worked with a client yet who needed anything less than top quality products, so that’s what we deliver, each and every time.  Safe Quality is our #1 Goal.

GMI® Juvenile & Pet Products – Gateway Manufacturing, Inc.

GMI GateGMI® manufactures top-of-the-line Made in the USA gates for the Pet and Child markets. We mentioned in our last blog a lack of quality often found in products manufactured overseas, and the high quality standards we adhere to here at Gateway. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our gate line.

All of our processes conform to the strict standards set by our ISO 9001:2008 certification. Beyond that, our gates are JPMA (Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association) Certified , guaranteeing that every component used and every aspect of the design and construction is safe for the small children who will be interacting with our gates.

Every year there are hundreds of recalls on all kinds of baby and child related products. Last year was no exception. Take a look at this list of baby and child recalls from 2011. In striving for a lower bottom-line, many companies will make manufacturing or component choices that impact the integrity of their products. In the gate industry, GMI® strives to achieve the HIGHEST quality in every aspect of our products, components and manufacturing. We insist on tight control of our raw material, sourcing all of the components in our Made in the USA gates from regional sources. Our production line and team are subject to hourly SPC (Statistical Process Control) checks, once an hour, every day, on every production line. Our engineering team is continually testing and innovating to keep our gates the safest in the industry. We’ve also earned patents for multiple aspects of our gates—each aspect designed with safety in mind.

All of our efforts have contributed to a distinction we are extremely proud of: Gateway Manufacturing’s GMI® Brand is the only gate manufacturer that has never had a recall—ever.

Gateway Manufacturing: Made in America

Made In America products and practices are wonderful things. They make sense for businesses and consumers, they keep American families working, and they display to the world what America does best—create. We’ve put together a list of some of the benefits of Made in America, and the ways in which Gateway Manufacturing supports Made in America every day.

Quality Control – Products Made in America are subject to much stricter standards than those manufactured overseas. For that reason products made here are of a consistently higher quality than those that have been outsourced overseas.

Shorter Lead Times, Greater Inventory Control – It takes a long time for products to make it to U.S. shores from overseas. Because of that, it’s important to place very large orders. You don’t want to be caught short when it takes six months to get more product. But consumer trends change much faster than that, and in these tough times who can afford to be stuck with products that don’t sell? Because we’re located here in the U.S., we can ship to our clients as needed. To handle a change in demand takes nothing more than a simple phone call, and we’ll change production to match our clients’ needs.

Sourcing from America – Made in America doesn’t just mean manufacturing here, it also means sourcing from American suppliers. All of our wood comes from Kentucky and Ohio, and we get our metal stamping components from local and regional sources. Not only are we keeping jobs here in our own facility, we’re keeping Americans working across the country.

Logistics – The time and money it takes to get a product from Point A to Point B is an important consideration for any business. It’s a lot faster and cheaper to get something from our facility here in Kentucky to another part of the country than it is to get it shipped from overseas to a port on either coast, and then to have it shipped from there.

Made in America is a point of pride. Keeping America working feels good, and it results in higher quality products and services that consumers here and overseas appreciate. It’s a practice with a lot of great benefits, and we’re proud to be doing our part.

Creating Crating to Keep Your Products Safe

CratingOne of the most important parts of any product is how that product is packaged. It doesn’t matter what you’ve built if it can’t survive being shipped. Often times, the design and production of a proper shipping crate can become a huge challenge on its own, one that is commonly overlooked. That’s where Gateway Manufacturing can step in. High Production or low volume custom crating is an area in which we excel.  We’re happy to handle orders from 1 crate to 10,000 crates, and anything in between.

We design, engineer and manufacture wooden shipping crates for any product, including products we’ve manufactured, or your own products, raw materials or components. If you already have a crate design, we can build to your specifications. Our experienced engineering and production team can offer suggestions to make your crate design more efficient and more effective.  Gateway can also completely design your crate around your product specifications. Tell us what you’re shipping and how you’re planning to ship it and we’ll design exactly what you need.

All production lines at Gateway are designed and built by our experienced engineering team. Each production run is monitored hourly by Statistical Process Control (SPC). Gateway’s ISO 9001: 2008 Certification assures our customers of the highest quality control and the most exacting standards available. We’re also ISPM-15 Registered for export and overseas crating.

We understand that the logistics of getting your crate order back to your facility can be challenging, which is why we can provide regional “door-to-door” service.  You can rest assured that your crates will arrive to you on time.

With our high volume customers, Gateway can utilize a KanBan scheduling system which will help to determine what to produce, production timing, and production quantity, thereby saving our customers time and money.

Whether you are shipping heavy parts or fragile components, Gateway will ensure that your product gets to your destination in perfect condition, every time. Our goal is “To delight our customers with quality, delivery, and price performance.”

Beyond custom crating, we also offer kitting, assembly services, sub-assembly, contract packaging, electro-mechanical assembly, pick pack merge, and fulfillment services. We’re here in whatever capacity you need us—we can be one step in your manufacturing process, or your complete design, prototyping, production and packaging partner.  We are your Solutions Company!