Small Companies make it big with Wal-Mart
Leesburg, Ohio | Walmart supplier since early 1970s
“Mainstays,” “Home Lights,” and “Holiday Time” candle products
In 1840, an English settler named Thomas Emery went door-to-door selling homemade candles and other household items. His little business began to grow, and grew further when his son opened a manufacturing plant in Cincinnati, Ohio. From those humble beginnings, Candle-lite – today a division of Lancaster Colony Corp. -- produces 200 million candles each year, many of them bound for Wal-Mart Stores under the private label “Mainstays,” “Home Lights” and “Holiday Time” brands.
Candle-lite began supplying about half of Wal-Mart’s stores more than 30 years ago, and today provides the high-quality votives, tapers, pillar candles and jar candles that are a fixture on Wal-Mart shelves worldwide. “Our relationship with Wal-Mart has really spurred our growth and greatly contributed to our manufacturing efficiencies,” said Mark Cunningham, vice president of sales for Candle-Lite. “Meeting Wal-Mart’s growing demand for our product has been a constant challenge, but working together, we’ve met those challenges.”
Candle-lite is also a “Made in America” success story, with 825 employees at Candle-lite’s facilities in a Cincinnati suburb. The company distributes its product from a distribution center in Indiana, and gets glass for its candle fixtures from a sister company in Oklahoma. Ninety percent of the raw materials used to make Candle-lite candles are made in the USA.
Frey Farms Produce Co.
Mt. Vernon, Illinois | Walmart supplier since 1994
Watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, variety melons | Fall ornamentals
Located Northeast of Mt. Vernon, IL, Frey Farms Produce Co. employs around 200 people during peak season. At age 8, Sarah Frey sold her first melons to a produce manager at a local grocery store. A lot of hard work and eleven years later, Sara made her first melon sale to a Wal-Mart hometown store. The rest, as they say, is history.
In 1979, Mrs. Elizabeth Frey-Reitz started a summer delivery route out of the back of her pickup truck. She and her children worked on the farm and sold homegrown melons to local merchants. In 1994, her daughter, Sarah Frey decided to knock on Wal-Mart’s door and now, in 2004 Sarah Frey supplies nearly 375 Wal-Mart stores with watermelons, cantaloupes, pumpkins, variety melons and fall ornamentals.
“Wal-Mart recognized the value of locally grown produce and insisted on consistently providing it to their customers,” says Frey. “I was 19 when we began serious business with Wal-Mart. For them to award such a lofty chunk of their business to a company where the president was a 19-year-old woman may have seemed ludicrous to some, but not to the Wal-Mart buyers. They had confidence in our abilities regardless of age or gender,” Frey adds.
Soon after receiving the contract with Wal-Mart, Sarah’s brother Ted, John, Harley, and Leonard returned home from college to join their sister in expanding the family business. And it’s paid off, during the past several years, Frey Farms Produce Co. has continued to grow and expand reporting consistent sales increases.
Last year, Frey now 27, and her company grew around 600,000 jack-o-lanterns on 1,000 acres of land to go to Wal-Mart stores in time for Halloween. “After watermelons, and cantaloupes, the last thing we do was pumpkins,” notes Frey. The plants are started in greenhouses and transplanted in June to the fields for harvest in September.
“Today, we’re enjoying phenomenal sales, and we are proud to have been given the opportunity to grow alongside the greatest company in America,” declares Frey.
Oswego, Illinois | WalMart supplier since 1982
Dog and Cat Fountain automatic pet watering bowls | Christmas tree watering system
As a teenager in the Philippines, Moises Lorenzana often dreamed of coming to the United States. After a trek to make that dream reality, Lorenzana arrived with a rich list of goals but an empty wallet. His father had always stressed the importance a college education played in achieving success, so Lorenzana followed his father’s advice. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. “I was a poor guy with a very strong determination to succeed,” says Mr. Lorenzana. “If you have the energy and the spirit you can accomplish any project.”
“Ace” Lorenzana, as he came to be known, spent 19 years working in product development at leading companies. Though the positions earned him great experience, he found himself wanting to follow his own creative aspirations. “I enjoy having fun and making money! I knew I could do both by selling ideas and inventions to the business world.”
In 1970, determined to turn creativity into creation, Lorenzana founded Molor Products in his home’s 200 sq. ft. basement. His knack for inventing one-of-a-kind, easily manufactured devices that meet consumers’ needs grew his business quickly. In 1982, Lorenzana presented a patented, sanitary toothbrush cover to the Wal-Mart oral care buyer and thus began a longstanding relationship with the world’s largest retailer. Wal-Mart carried the toothbrush holder, which was updated with improvements throughout its shelf life, until 1999.
Today, Molor Products is housed in a 51,000 square foot facility in Oswego, IL and its partnership with Wal-Mart continues. The company has designed automatic pet water bowls, the Food ‘n’ Fountain for dogs and the Mini Food ‘n’ Fountain for cats, which refill automatically when they need to, making pet care easy for owners who may be away for extended periods of time. Also in time for the upcoming holiday season, stores will also sell Molor’s Tree Fountain, a unique automatic water dispenser for holiday trees that simplifies the maintenance necessary to keep trees healthy throughout the season.
Armed with more creative, production-ready inventions and a business philosophy that reminds, “Always upgrade, always improve,” Ace Lorenzana says he will be visiting Wal-Mart buyers for many years to come.
“Wal-Mart played a big part in attaining my life’s goals. They appreciate the simplicity of our products and that we are always ten steps ahead of our competition.” Molor products are shipped to Wal-Mart stores halfway around the world. Now, Lorenzana says, “We can tell the whole world we export to China.”
Orange Glo International
Greenwood Village, Colorado | Walmart supplier since 1999
Orange Glo Multi-Purpose Cleaner | OxiClean
What started as a two-person operation running out of the family garage has turned into a merchandise success story on a global scale.
In 1986, scent-sensitive Max Appel was tired of cleaning products that left a strong smell. Trying to find a furniture polish without the chemical common to many commercial cleaners, he came across orange oil. The extract has the same potency as a cleaner, but of course leaves behind a refreshing, fruity smell. Orange Glo Wood Cleaner and Polish was born.
Max and his wife, Elaine, made the product in their garage and shopped it around at state fairs and home shows. Before long, they found themselves with a hot product that was gaining customers through word of mouth.
In 1999, Colorado-based Orange Glo faced expansion challenges. The company realized it needed to improve its logistics and information systems to expand distribution in the United States and eventually sell the product in other countries. That’s when the company turned to Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart merchandise teams worked with Orange Glo to develop its infrastructure to accommodate growth. By 2001, Orange Glo had been named Wal-Mart’s household and paper goods Supplier of the Quarter. In 2003, it was named one of Wal-Mart’s Global
Sourcing Suppliers of the Year.
Today, Orange Glo and its family of products, including OxiClean and Orange Clean Multi-Purpose Cleaner, are sold in Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club locations in the United Kingdom, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico, Germany, Korea, China and Japan.
“Wal-Mart provided the guidance required to efficiently improve our logistics and information systems,” says Max Appel, whose company now has 186 employees. “They encouraged us to improve our overall management of our business, including cost controls, demand forecasting, promotional activities and supply chain management. Thanks to Wal-Mart, we are an international company.”
Peter Rabbit Farms
Coachella, California | Walmart supplier since 2001
Carrots in Supercenters
Peter Rabbit Farms founder Palmer Powell began his produce career during the depression as a truck driver for the San Francisco Terminal Produce Market. When retailers started buying direct from the growers he saw his opportunity; knowing that the Coachella Valley was very fertile he made the move. Palmer’s son, John, joined the company in 1959 although, at that time, it was called Cardinal Distributing Company and Peter Rabbit was their brand/label. In 1992, the company name was changed to Peter Rabbit Farms, and today it still operates from their original location in the heart of Coachella. The company is also a seasonal grower/shipper of bell peppers, eggplant, green beans, leaf lettuces and table grapes.
The family-owned produce business needed to grow to remain competitive in the marketplace. They expanded their operations to offer their carrot crop year around. Then they picked up the phone and called Wal-Mart. Nearly two years after a “cold call” to Wal-Mart, Peter Rabbit Farms received their first order from the company in May, 2001. Currently, the company serves more than 300 Wal-Mart Supercenters, and, with the March 2004 Grand Opening of Wal-Mart’s first California Supercenter in La Quinta, Calif., Peter Rabbit Farms now has the opportunity to supply produce items to both friends and neighbors.
“Working with Wal-Mart these past few years has been great for our organization,” said Suzanne Powell, Peter Rabbit’s Sr. VP for Marketing & Business Development and Palmer’s granddaughter. “The true collaborative nature that Wal-Mart has with its suppliers allows us to get involved in Wal-Mart’s business rather than just filling orders. Wal-Mart has made us a more efficient company and has even helped our reputation within our industry,” Powell continued. Peter Rabbit Farms employs 300-500 people throughout the year. Many have been with the company for more than 15 years and are second and third generation employees. “Wal-Mart’s flexibility to support local growers where it settles is truly unseen in the grocery industry,” said Powell. “We are proud of our relationship with Wal-Mart and look forward to even greater success.”
Peter Rabbit Farms has been owned and operated by the Powell Family for 54 years and is now in the capable hands of Palmer’s grandchildren: John Jr. – President/CEO, Steve – VP/COO and Suzanne – SVP Marketing and Business Development.
Denver, Pennsylvania | Wal-Mart supplier since 1986
January 17, 2005
Mr. Lee Scott, President
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc
702 S.W. 8 Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
Dear Mr. Scott,
Enclosed is a copy of a letter from your predecessor David Glass regarding our response to some serious bashing your company received unfairly from Jane Pauley regarding your “Buy America” program. The negative comments then were false but that did not deter NBC. Nothing has changed. Wal-Mart, Bill Gates and the New York Yankees have to be made unpopular because they do their thing so well.
Our entire company, including all 65 employees, owes a great deal of our success and prosperity to our 19-year relationship with Wal-Mart. In September 1989 our racquetball manufacturing facility burned to the ground leaving us nearly bankrupt. Thanks to Herman’s and Wal-Mart and an innovative shinguard design we did not go under but instead prospered with what has become America’s favorite shinguard. When anyone asks how we recovered from such a disaster we reply "Thank you Wal-Mart.”
We have heard all the nasty stories of how Wal-Mart bullies suppliers and leaves them high and dry when they go offshore but the fact is that we have been treated perfectly by your company as long as we have followed your very strict and specific instructions. We have manufactured The Ultimate Shinguard for fifteen years and supplied it to your company for fourteen years. There is no product so available in the orient than shinguards but Wal-Mart and fifty or so other American retailers have elected our product.
Your new public relations offensive is well advised and overdue. Like every other highly successful organization you have no shortage of detractors. One of them is our local Lancaster, PA newspaper publisher who cannot be negative enough about Wal-Mart. This newspaper controls all the local delivery people and as a result my wife and I are unable to subscribe to the New York Times or the Philadelphia Inquirer. They won’t allow the local distributors to carry them! Yet they find fault in your competitive ways.
My favorite moment at Wal-Mart is being greeted by a senior citizen or someone who is handicapped because it reminds me just how good Wal-Mart has been for its employees. What other company do you know where so many employees regularly retire in their fifties thanks to the company stock they acquired along the way. Your employees, your customers and your vendors think you are first class. Who else matters?
Richard A. McGrath, Ultimate Sports
Ultimate Apparel, LLC
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These walmart supplier stories were posted on howtosellyourproducttowalmart.com