By Vicki Matranga, H/IDSA, Design Programs + Services
While exhibitors are busy preparing the products they will introduce at the 2014 International Home + Housewares Show they also are considering the many promotional opportunities IHA offers. Entering the 3rd Annual IHA Innovation Awards, which celebrate the importance of design and innovation in our industry, should top the “to do” list. From a field of thousands of new products on view at the Show, 13 products are named the Best in their categories. Winners receive a dramatic award trophy to display in their booths and the right to feature the IHA Innovation Awards logo on their packaging. But the greatest benefit is the attention from media and buyers at the Show.
So What Happened After the Show?
We tracked down some of the 2013 Best in Category winners to learn how the award affected their products’ launch. Exhibitors reported that relationships with major retailers and valuable media coverage developed within the first months. Products selected as winners can be from large companies or start ups. The innovation and design is what matters!
Trash-Ease: A Portable Lightweight Trash Bag Holder
“I have four kids ages 11 to 18 and spend a lot of time sitting on bleachers at track meets and other sporting events,” described John Cundy, inventor of the Trash-Ease. “The parent spectators and the kids taking a break from play dropped wrappers and plastic bottles. I’d crawl around the bleachers to clean it up and one day I just said to myself—I’m not going to do this anymore.”
Car design sculptor by day, inventor by night, Cundy dreamt the solution. “I woke up one night at 2 a.m. and started drawing the product that became the Trash-Ease.” As with other inventors, his idea launched a company that involved the whole family—his wife’s voice greeted visitors to their website and his children, even the youngest, helped with the business at home. His very first product was selected as Best in the Home Organization and Storage Category in the IHA Innovation Awards. It is now sold at Lowe’s, LTD Commodities catalogue, outdoor goods retailers and soon at other major stores.
The Trash-Ease is a bent wire frame that holds and supports a standard plastic trash bag hung off the edge of a picnic table or stadium bleachers. It comes in two sizes, one that holds a 13-gallon drawstring bag and a larger size that holds a 33-gallon drawstring bag. Its slim, lightweight, one-piece design is easy to transport, store and use. The powder-coated and rubber-dipped exterior protects against damage to surfaces to which the Trash-Ease is attached.
What impact did the IHA Innovation Award recognition have on your success at our Show? “It gave us instant credibility, it created a buzz at the Show,” Cundy explains. “I didn’t know what to expect from the Show, I had no idea of its size. My sales manager, Katie Thill, helped me prepare and encouraged me to enter the Awards. I had a small booth at the back of the North Building, near the Buyer’s Club. I met buyers and distributors there and learned so much. One food service distributor came by. His eyes opened wide when I demonstrated the Trash-Ease– he saw immediately it could work for recycling a restaurant chain’s backroom waste. I’m hoping this connection will lead to something big!”
Pallets are shipping across the country. “In August, Lowe’s featured the Trash-Ease on an end cap promotion in 1600 stores, just in time for back-to-school sports and tailgating season. And the Boy Scouts of America are using it for their fundraisers!,” he says.
Made In Michigan with Local Partners
Cundy studied industrial design at the College of Creative Studies in Detroit in the 1980s. He excelled in model making and upon graduation General Motors hired him to sculpt clay models, where he continues working today. He took his idea for the trash bag holder to local manufacturers that have available production capacity. One shop, which fabricates wire baskets for refrigerators, jumped at the work and can make 100,000 units+ as his needs increase. “After winning the Award, our sales increased six times, from 5,000 to 30,000 units,” Cundy marvels. “Crazy.”
Cundy plans to be back to exhibit at 2014 Show with JPC Products’ latest new ideas. He experienced how the Show propelled his business to levels he couldn’t imagine. Visit www.trash-ease.com
Watch for your Exhibitor Marketing Kit for information about entering the 3rd Annual IHA Innovation Awards.
Your product may be celebrated in the winners’ display in the Hall of Global Innovation!
See the winners of the 2103 Innovation Awards here