Newell Rubbermaid Inc. will eschew its lazy habits of several years ago to fortify its position as the leading housewares and consumer products company, the company's leader told a Toronto audience.
Newell Rubbermaid President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Galli Jr. said his firm no longer will follow obsolete business models as it emphasizes innovation and low cost.
Galli said Newell Rubbermaid wants to capitalize on its well-known brand names after former Rubbermaid management let them slip while treating many of its businesses as commodity producers.
``That's an obsolete model,'' Galli said regarding Rubbermaid's former commodity approach prior to its merger with Newell Inc. three years ago. Rather than view them as commodities, Newell Rubbermaid wants to make them more useful to consumers and appealing to retailers.
Galli said Newell Rubbermaid will emphasize its patent and intellectual property strengths to differentiate it from other housewares suppliers. The firm will invest heavily in research and development to try to avoid the spiral of price cuts endemic within the housewares sector. Consumers want a ``better mousetrap'' and will pay a bit more to get more useful housewares.
The Freeport, Ill., firm, which is planning to move to the Atlanta area, said it will help retailers by placing its own product specialists in stores to drum up interest in the aisles and to help consumers make purchase choices.
Galli admitted his company lagged retailers' exodus to China to source low-cost products.
``We can't sit back and watch our market share erode to those who are manufacturing in China,'' Galli told delegates in his Sept. 4 talk sponsored by Hardlines, a Toronto-based publishing and research company for the home improvement industry. The manufacture of low-technology products in North America and Western Europe is another obsolete business model, Galli said, and Newell Rubbermaid has opened plants in China, Mexico and Eastern Europe.