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Last Update: Friday August 18, 2017

Key Idea: Make It In America

Chris and Sara are sentimental. They grew up in Wisconsin which is steeped in a manufacturing tradition. The proud past of Wisconsin factories is being carried on at Graber because Chris and Sara are determined to prove that, "Made In America" means quality.

Key Question:

A: 

Make the product so you can see it with your own eyes.  "Made In The USA" means quality today because thousands of small manufacturers have figured out how to re-tool and add technology to increase productivity.

Q:  What part of the process at Graber is global?

A:
The design. Fabio Padrini designs for Graber from his Bologna, Italy studio. The reason is, Fabio is, in Chris' opinion, the best in the world for what Graber needs to accomplish. There's a great design tradition in Italy and many, many cyclists! If you can find and afford the best person in the world for any task, we hope you leap at the chance to hire that person.

Think about it

Is money the only reason to do or not do something? 

Clip from: Saris Cycling Group aka Graber

Madison, Wisconsin: Sara and Chris Fortune bought Graber Products in 1989 when it had 24 employees and $3.3 million in sales. When we taped this story there were up to 60 employees and with revenues over $10 million. They continue to grow, changed the name of the company to Saris Cycling Group, and are very committed to keeping their manufacturing in the USA.

Actually, manufacturing is on its way back to the USA!

That is not prophetic verse but the reality of our advancing technologies where highly educated workers can do it better, often faster, and sometimes cheaper than anywhere in the world.

This episode is a case in point: And, this story comes from the heartlands of America. These are the kind of people who love this country and all those basic freedoms to do the right thing in the face of adversity. They have done it right and now they ship their products around the world.

When Chris and Sara bought Graber Products, they bought a solid business with a good reputation, but the sales were flat. The employees were dedicated, but the company needed fresh energy to start growing again. To dump the stodgy image of the company that he bought, Chris found an Italian fashion designer who came up with improved form and function for his bike racks. Chris believed that the market was ready, willing and waiting for new ideas and he was right. Customers have flocked to the new products and employees love to come to work.

They are their industry leaders. They have kept manufacturing in America. And, their industry recognizes them for their generosity of spirit, moral courage, and ethical leadership. These people are quiet heroes,  new pioneers making the world a better place.

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Saris Cycling Group (once known as Graber Products)

Chris Fortune, CEO

Visit our web site: http://saris.com

Business Classification:
Manufacturing, Sports (Biking), wholesale

Year Founded:

Make It In America

(Voiceover) Just as so much manufacturing has gone offshore, this business could have headed that way, but Sara and Chris are determined to keep Graber alive and all-American.

CHRIS: Part of the thing that drove me to pursue this business was that I saw so much manufacturing going offshore. I just felt that there was a decline in America, and that it was very important for us to re-establish our manufacturing base. You know, you talk about the service industry and the retail industry, and I really feel that we can build product domestically and compete internationally with the right design and development, and we're doing that. Right now, we're not only in the United States but we're in 20 countries internationally. And we can do that. Two of our largest competitors, Yakima is down in Mexico now and Thule is out of Europe, and we feel that we can compete with them.

SARA: It really does take a survivor--that really describes Chris--and support from people around you. I think Chris and I are really lucky because we give on both sides. Sometimes it takes us awhile to figure that out, but we give on both sides. I'd say most small business owners really give a lot of their lives to that business to make it successful. And that's part of the risk.

CHRIS: It is really important as a business leader to carry the torch and continually communicate your values to the company, the vision of your company to your employees. You know a person by the trail he leaves and the people they hang with, and it's very important.
 
 

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