2011 WOOD 100: Product Innovation A

Communication plays an essential role in product development. Talking to customers, consumer studies and creative minds can result in merchandise guaranteed to bring sales.    

Grove LLC, Portland, OR ­— Whoever said the proper packaging can make all the difference, had the right idea. Custom woodworker Grove LLC recently launched its latest versions of iPad cases, designed to match Apple’s iPad2. The hand-crafted wood cases join Grove’s line of cases already in production for the iPhone4.

The hard cases are machined in Grove’s shop using Haas CNCs and hand-finished in amber or natural, using oils and waxes. Technical demands on the products mean that they must integrate to Apple’s Smart cover, which activates the iPad when it is opened, and provide unimpeded access to the iPad’s and iPhone’s camera lens and speaker grille. Grove also offers a simpler, engraved cover, 1/32-inch thick, that will adhere to the back of the iPad with removable 3M self-adhesive glue face, which centers at the high point of the device’s back and protects it from abrasion.

TOP INNOVATIONS

BriMar Wood Innovations Inc., Goshen, IN
Spurring the veneer and laminate furniture maker’s sales to jump 62.1% in 2010 was the expansion of offerings to include painted products, now nearly 25% of its sales volume. “We found we could provide this painted finish with minimal changes to our current production process, allowing us to run both finish types through our shop and finish room at the same time,” says Brian Roe, president/CEO.  

Northern Contours, Mendota Heights, MN
Continued product innovation, including the latest updates to the Level Series of acrylic and thermofoil components, is helping this acrylic/thermofoil/veneer/hardwood cabinet component manufacturer gain market share and contributed to its 8.6% growth in 2010, says Lary Skow, vice president of sales and marketing.

Wellborn Cabinet Inc., Ashland, AL
The cabinet manufacturer’s Active Living Collection helps meet the needs of multi-generational family homes, including those with aging populations.

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