Thinking Outside. Most pick up on the double meaning immediately.
``The formation of Thinking Outside was to create not only outdoor storage products, but to create things from a consumer's point of view and not a manufacturer's point of view,'' said Michael Greene, founder and president of Detroit-based Thinking Outside LLC.
``Typically, our ideas are different than others in the marketplace,'' he said in an April 5 telephone interview from his home office in Reno, Nev.
Capitalizing on the name has translated to great success for the fast-rising company, which anticipates eclipsing the $100 million sales mark this year - just its fourth year in operation.
Thinking Outside was a frequently talked-about company at the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.'s Alliance of Plastics Processors conference April 2-4 in Columbus, where one of its products - the Cottage children's playhouse - took top honors in the annual new product design competition for its low-pressure structural foam roof. The roof can be made of either polyethylene or polypropylene.
Cobourg, Ontario-based Horizon Plastics Co. Ltd. made the award-winning roof.
Thinking Outside is the brand name and designer of a plethora of outdoor living products ranging from the children's playhouse to storage sheds, dog houses, garden workshops and large utility boxes for pickup-truck beds.
Many of the products are large. The Cottage represents about 660 pounds of plastic, Horizon President Brian Read said. The playhouse measures 9 feet, 9 inches wide; 10 feet, 5 inches long; and 7 feet, 4 inches tall.
The products comprise a combination of parts from 13 North American manufacturers and are sold by several of the country's largest retailers: Wal-Mart, Sam's Club, Home Depot, Lowe's, Menards and Costco.
Products like the Cottage and the SmartGardener's Workshop - essentially a greenhouse - are made from products formed via a number of processes, including structural foamed roof and flooring systems, blow-molded wall panels and doors, polycarbonate windows and PP window frames.
Mike Springer, Horizon's vice president of sales, said the Cottage has been in commercial production for about nine months.
Thinking Outside's structural foam molders include Horizon and 20/20 Custom Molded Plastics of Holiday City, Ohio. Western Industries Plastics Group of Winfield, Kan., is the main contract blow molder for the playhouse and greenhouse products.
``We design for value, not for price,'' Greene said. ``If you create something that has value and aren't creating a product to a specific price point, you can satisfy consumers easier.''
The Cottage retails for about $1,490 at Sam's Club.
Thinking Outside will continue to invest in, and launch, new product, Greene said. He also hopes to continue the remarkable growth.
``I don't know what the limit is,'' Greene said. ``Perhaps our imagination.''