Oval Brand Fire Products®
Glendale Heights, Illinois
Fire Protection Equipment
For years, fire extinguishers appeared to be impervious to change and improvement until Oval Brand Fire Products came on the scene. “You're going to see them around forever,” notes Andy Rachmel, the company's CFO and CIO, referring to fire extinguishers. “They're constantly being replaced. And what we saw was there wasn't a lot of innovation. There wasn't innovation in the shape, the design. We thought about all of that when we designed our product.”
The company has to grapple with the dual challenge of how to design a better fire extinguisher that is unobtrusive yet easy to find if the need arises. “Most people in their lifetime have seen a fire extinguisher,” Rachmel says. “They're in every building, they're big, bright-red shiny objects. But they don't stick out; they don't resonate because we're not paying attention to them. If you ask the average person, 'Have you ever picked one up? Have you actually ever had to discharge it?' the answer is probably no. So we make a product that we don't want anyone to see, we don't want anyone to ever have to use it; but if they do, it has to work. The underlying problem is you can't fully recess it into a standard-size wall.”
Kevin Koslowski, Founder and President of Oval Brand Fire Products, came up with a creative solution to these challenges: “I looked into the question of 'How do you make a fire extinguisher that's going to fit?' and it's a tough engineering challenge. The extinguisher can't be deeper than three inches front to back. But I knew that we had to solve it within the existing rulebooks and standards. It wouldn't have been realistic to try to solve it otherwise. Early on, I tried to license our technology to the largest manufacturer in the country, and their head of engineering said it can't be done. He couldn't believe that what I was saying that I could do was possible.”
Not only was it possible, but the company is now successfully selling the idea of its new and improved fire extinguisher design to all sorts of customers. Architects, healthcare facilities, building owners, general contractors, retailers, and building inspectors are some of their ideal customers.
Oval Brand Fire Products distributes its fire extinguishers after manufacturing them in a single location. According to Rachmel, “Everything is made right here in our facility in Glendale Heights, Illinois. We machine, we fabricate, we weld, we do all the assembly work – everything is done right here. And then we ship it to distributors and customers around North America.”
He discovered that the company needed a good inventory management solution early in its history. “When we got our start, it was very much a chaotic process from the standpoint that we weren't real organized. We were a small business. We were using QuickBooks for our backend. But from an inventory management side, we were able to track that we bought some stuff, we made some stuff, and we shipped some stuff. We didn't really have good insight into how that material was being used.”
They found an ideal solution in Fishbowl Manufacturing. Rachmel notes, “We eventually found our way to Fishbowl, and we saw a system that was very simple to use and didn't require a lot of resources. Once we have the material in house, we're able to watch it move and flow through the manufacturing facility. So at any point in time we know what stage the product is at, we know how many parts and pieces we have on hand.”
Beyond the many useful features they found in Fishbowl Manufacturing, they were pleasantly surprised to learn that there was another product they could take advantage of to save even more time and money. “With a small facility where all hands are on deck, we have people building product, we have people entering orders, we don't have a lot of margin and tolerance for paperwork and administrative stuff,” Rachmel explains.
“When we first started using Fishbowl, we were using it in an automated way, but we were printing a whole lot of paper. We talked to Fishbowl and said, 'Here's how we're doing things today. What can we be doing to improve things a little bit more?' That's when we were introduced to Fishbowl Go. It's really automated. It's streamlined. It's saved us a lot of time. It's just a great tool, and we were really excited when Fishbowl told us about it. Having them come to us, saying, 'Hey, what are you guys doing? How can we help you do it better, faster, and more efficiently?' It's just been a great relationship.”
Visit https://www.ovalfireproducts.com to see if its fire extinguishers are a good fit for you. In addition, you can watch a video case study of Oval Brand Fire Products.
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