As Lillie Ward settles
in to her seat in the "bowling alley," the whirl of a five-thread Reliable sewing machine drowns
out a local talk radio broadcast. Surrounded by rolls of fabric, boxes of zippers, and spools of thread, she is the latest
addition to local business, AchooAllergy.com and she is also one of thousands of people who are rejoining a slowly growing
American manufacturing sector.
"I enjoy having a job where at the end of the day, I've actually produced something real and tangible." Taking a short
break from finishing another blanket, Lillie goes on to note, "Utilizing a unique skill set in my work is a good feeling,
and more than just the sewing, Achoo's given me the opportunity to grow within the company."
Six months ago, the "bowling alley" (named that way because of its long narrow shape) was simply a storage area packed
full of hand tools and home furnishings. However, changing times often mean that as a small business, you adapt and
grow or get left behind.
Cade McDonald, founder and CEO of AchooAllergy.com has always placed importance on listening to customer's needs and
providing quality products. He puts it simply, "Our goal is provide the best allergy relief products available, and if
we can source that domestically, we do - even it means us setting up our own cut and sew manufacturing operation."
Competing in a global marketplace is not an easy task but is a necessary one to survive as a modern business. As the
company has matured, more products and processes have been pulled under the AchooAllergy.com umbrella.
As the newest product to be "insourced," the Allergy Armor organic cotton blanket,
is a product that meets the needs of
several customer types. For the core clientele of the business, allergy and asthma sufferers, this organic blanket is
free of the reaction-causing chemical irritants that plague modern textiles. As certified organic cotton, it also
appeals to a growing number of people concerned with the environment and sustainable products.
blanket joins the Allergy Armor brand of allergy bedding, and like nearly all of the others in the series, it
is a product that is crafted from start to finish in the U.S. But for a small business like AchooAllergy, the focus is
not only on creating their own merchandise. It is also about supporting other American manufacturers of allergy relief
As their most popular air cleaner brand, Austin Air Purifiers are another example of an American made product making a
big impact in the lives of allergy sufferers.
With a steel construction, a sealed system and a true HEPA filter, these
machines remove allergens in homes and offices across the country.
The close partnership between AchooAllergy and Austin Air has not only helped hundreds of thousands of allergy and asthma
sufferers, but it has also made good business sense.
"Manufacturers have a choice.
Manufacture in America and support American workers and communities or go overseas and
support shareholders. We have chosen to support American workers and communities since 1990 when we opened our doors in
the US. We are proud to be partners with Achoo as they join us in this effort."
While increasing foreign labor and fuel costs are driving some manufacturers to return to the U.S., AchooAllergy proves that
even a small retailer with a commitment to quality products that truly help others, can succeed as both manufacturer
- Laura McMillan, VP of Administration at The Austin Group