Five Ways to Celebrate Leap Day

Today is Leap Day, February 29, which means we are in the midst of enjoying an extra day in the calendar. Think of it as a bonus! Today is one more day to do something substantial, productive or maybe just plain fun. Here are five ways to enjoy Leap Day:

  1. Leap Day - February 29Try something new. It can be a type of food or restaurant, or perhaps a hobby or type of entertainment. Today is a great day to expose yourself to something new and different.
  2. Take a risk. Is there something that you’ve thought about doing for a while, but just haven’t had the guts? It can be as simple as talking to someone new, or as big as skydiving. What better day to take that “leap?”
  3. Start a new tradition. Leap year only comes around every four years, so why not make it special. Start a new tradition with your friends and family that will give you a special reason to look forward to every February 29.
  4. Throw a party. While some of us don’t need an excuse for holding a social gathering,  today is a special occasion worthy of celebrating. Gather some friends and enjoy it! Plus, you don’t have to worry about throwing it again for another four years.
  5. Make a difference. Since this is a bonus day, why not share some of it with those less fortunate? There are plenty of charities and community organizations available that are always looking for some extra help. We all get an extra 24 hours this year, and it only takes one to make a difference.

The Shift in Luxury: From Shopper to Investor

According to an article today from Appliance Magazine, luxury consumers are more focused on value than ever before. The article even goes so far as to equate today’s luxury shopper with an investor:

“This new affluent customer is keen on finding value when they shop so they look to maximize their investment in spending,” said Unity Marketing President Pam Danziger. “They expect the goods and services they buy to deliver the maximum return on their ‘luxe’ investment. Luxury marketers must make sure their brands give these customers a high yield when they buy.”

It certainly makes sense, as convention wisdom says that consumers will always look for the most “bang for their buck,” but luxury consumers had traditionally been seen in a different light. Luxury goods and their buyers had previously been seen as “recession-proof,” meaning the business would remain steady since traditional economic factors did not affect this market as much. But luxury spending and consumer confidence have both dropped to recent lows, and luxury spending was down 15% in the fourth quarter of 2011. With this recent report, it’s becoming more and more evident that the luxury market space has in fact been negatively affected by the recent downturn.

The fact that value-driven shopping has found its way into the luxury space shows that now more than ever brands have to ensure they are providing a clear and needed value with their products. It’s not enough to simply make a good product – you have to make a valuable product.

Not to toot our own horn, but this idea has been firmly implanted in our own company since its inception. You can even read it directly from our About Us page:

“Always at the forefront of our industry, our goal is to offer the best quality product and consumer value on the market.”

In our eyes, the only way we can be successful in this business is to give customers confidence in the quality of our products and our brand. After all, it’s your hard-earned money, and the least we can do as a manufacturer is ensure you’re getting the highest return on investment possible.

Happy Paczki Day!

Today is Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, and we’re doing what we can to celebrate! one of our favorite Mardi Gras traditions comes from Poland – the paczki.

Paczki are essentially jelly or cream-filled doughnuts, made with extremely rich dough and topped with powdered sugar, icing, or even dried orange zest. These Polish pastries have ingrained themselves into American traditions in areas of the country with large Polish communities, such as Chicago. In Poland, Paczki Day is traditionally celebrated on Fat Thursday, or the last Thursday before the season of Lent in the Catholic calendar. The idea is to use up all the eggs, sugar, lard and fruit in the house prior to Lent, when  traditional Catholic fasting practices would forbid them.

In the US, Paczki Day is celebrated on Fat Tuesday, grouping the day in with other fun and celebration. So grab yourself a jelly-filled sweet, and Happy Paczki Day and Mardi Gras!

Northern California Company Saves Big with Evaporative Cooling System

An olive producer in Northern California was recently honored by the Pacific Gas & electric Company for their recent green initiatives that are projected to save more than 2.7 million kilowatt hours of electric use each year.

The company, Bell-Carter Foods, Inc., has undertaken several projects to save money and resources, including the development and implementation of an evaporative cooling system for their plant. Evaporative cooling utilizes the power of evaporation to provide cooling to an area at a much more energy-efficient rate. In areas with warm and dry climates, evaporative coolers, or swamp coolers, can be quite effective at lowering the temperature substantially, without the need for a compressor-based air conditioning unit. This is just part of the company’s ongoing commitment to sustainability.

 “We are going to be able to save a lot of money, make our product cheaper and do the right thing for the environment by using less energy,” Ron Kerr, Bell-Carter Foods Inc.

As Kerr notes in the interview, not only are these initiatives environmentally-conscious, they’re also smart business decisions. Any time you can save money on a constant such as energy costs, it has a major impact on your bottom line.

We’re obviously well-versed in evaporative cooling here, and are always excited to see new companies take advantage of this energy-efficient cooling method. While evaporative cooling technology is not new by any means, it continues to advance and improve over time.  As it does, expect to see more and more companies take advantage of its benefits.

Be Safe When Enjoying Your Appliances

According to a recent investigation from Consumer Reports, home appliances cause early 150,000 fires a year! While some were due to defective units or manufacturing issues, the vast majority were a direct result of human error. The good news, and the most important tidbit within this report, is that the majority of these fires are in fact preventable. There are a number of simple things you can do to ensure your safety when purchasing and installing your next home appliance.

  • Read the instruction manual! How many times have you purchased a new appliance or toy, taken it out of the box and almost immediately discard the included manual? We’ve all been guilty of this at some point, so you’re certainly not alone. However, proper set up and installation of your new appliance is paramount to ensuring there are no safety issues. And if you’re ever unsure about installing something — hire a professional! It’s a small price to pay to ensure your long-term safety.
  • Register with the manufacturer. Another thing that gets discarded almost immediately is the registration card that often comes with a new appliance. While typically overlooked, these cards do serve a purpose. Registering your new appliance allows the manufacturers like us to communicate with you — which is especially important if there are problems or issues that come up. Here’s another inside tip: we usually provide those that register with special coupons and other bonuses as well, just for registering.
  • Turn off your appliances when no one is home. Major appliances, like dishwashers, washers, and dryers should only be run when someone is at home. Before leaving your home, make sure that all of your appliances are turned off to ensure no issues occur when no one is around.

While the above tips sound fairly simple, they can make quite a difference. After all, major appliances are supposed to make our lives better! By following these, and any other guidelines provided by the manufacturer, you can ensure that you’re getting all of the benefits from your home appliances without any of the hassle.

Our Favorite Super Bowl Ads

Whether you’re a football fan or not, there’s something transcendent about the Super Bowl. A single game brings most of the US, as well as much of the world, together in unison. Last night’s big game was most likely one of the highest rated in recent memory, which meant a huge stage for advertisers. Traditionally, companies spend a fortune on Super Bowl ad space and use the time to showcase their very best work. The best commercials typically have a good mixture of comedy, cunning and wit to go along with a general feel-good emotion. And this year was no exception.

Our clear favorites this year came from Pepsi and Budweiser, two corporations that are known for taking full advantage of the Super Bowl ad stage. Pepsi’s add is heavy on humor, and Sir Elton John plays his role perfectly. We’re also a big fan of the cameo at the end.

Our absolute favorite from last night, though, comes from Budweiser, which focused on combining the purity of rec-league sports with the unbridled joy of playing in front of a crowd of admirers. This ad only aired in Canada, however thanks to the wonder of YouTube, we’re all able to enjoy it. Anyone who has ever played a game in an empty arena will appreciate this one. The best part about this ad is the simple joy on the face of the two teams as they enjoy playing in front of the loud flash mob of a crowd. Is there a clear message? Not really, but there doesn’t need to be. For this ad, the connection is all about emotion, and it’s just about perfect.