Monday, December 21, 2009
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A company that can do enormous things, Macy's, is helping to provide 10 million meals for Feeding America. Amazing! Visit Macy's site today to learn more about how you can help in this great cause!
Monday, September 28, 2009
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Tuesday, August 18, 2009
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Friday, August 14, 2009
Three rambunctious and ravenous kids, a trip to a Giant Eagle grocery store, and one harried mom equals chaos. Unless you’re Laura Hamrick, in which case it becomes the catalyst for a stay-at-home mom to become a successful inventor and entrepreneur.
“I spent an exhausting and unsuccessful grocery trip handing out snacks one by one to my young sons while trying to look through coupons and fill the cart,” she says. “I left the store frazzled and frustrated with only half the items on my grocery list.”
Vowing never to go through that experience again, Hamrick put the kids down for a nap on that November 2005 afternoon and jumped on the computer looking for anything she could use to help pacify her boys while shopping.
Expecting thousands of search results, she was astonished to find nothing that fit the bill. So she quickly sketched a design for a durable, portable plastic tray to clip onto any grocery cart handle, and OnTray was born.
Small and lightweight, it features a sliding, attachable lid and tray clip for toting snacks, toys, crayons and coupons to the store while keeping them within easy reach. But becoming an award-winning inventor practically overnight was never the plan for this former sales executive with a degree in early childhood development.
“I was happy being a stay-at-home mom,” says Hamrick, 35, who sells the product through her company named 42 Kids. “I thought I would go home and find a simple product online. When I didn’t, I came up with my idea and then I felt so strongly I thought, ‘I’ll go crazy into debt and make this thing.’ ”
Running out of money is common among inventor wannabes, says Bret Bordner, vice president of the Gahanna-based manufacturing company Laser Reproductions.
“Very few inventors make a profit,” he says. “The biggest obstacle is coming up with the funding. I’ve seen many people run out of money before the idea gets to market – even if it’s a good idea.”
Working with Bordner, however, Hamrick was able to tweak OnTray’s design in just a few iterations and ready the product for production in a few months.
“The first thing people don’t do,” Bordner says, “is due diligence. They need to make sure they’re not infringing on something in the marketplace. Maybe the product is identical to something else but with a totally different application. That’s OK, but few people have an idea that I haven’t seen already.”
Hamrick’s idea, however, was the only of its kind, if not surprisingly simple.
“Why didn’t I think of that,” says Bordner. “It’s like the paperclip. But I have to say she did a very good job of getting it in front of the right people.”
Although Hamrick incurred about $75,000 in debt – using personal savings, credit cards and equity in her home – getting the patent and manufacturing processes started, she’s now profitable and it’s just her second year in business. That success is thanks to online sales and retail sales from 200 baby boutiques throughout 17 U.S. states, Canada, Australia and France.
And 2009 is shaping up to be a milestone year with brisk sales – Hamrick estimates sales of $80,000, double last year’s – and a freshly inked distribution deal with Hamco. The national baby products distributor based in Gonzales, La., will sell OnTray in major retail stores such as Meijer, Babies”R”Us and BuyBuy Baby.
“There’s a middle man,” says Hamrick, which in the end will decrease her profit. “But it’s such a great opportunity to partner with a company who’s done everything, including fulfillment. It just made sense to take a lesser profit margin.”
In addition to the Hamco U.S. deal, Hamrick says partnerships with distributors in Australia, Singapore and the U.K. have helped with her projections.
“I’m so thankful this is happening in my second year of business,” she says. “If it had happened when I launched, I wouldn’t have known the questions to ask or the research to do so. And I might have gotten excited and said, ‘Yeah, pay me whatever.’ Now I know to get references and talk to other companies they’re representing.”
Securing a distribution agreement and then waiting for the money to roll in can be a fatal mistake, says Jason Ricci, president of Columbus-based Titan Logistics distribution company allows you to receive email alerts with stories related to your companies of interest.
“The business of fulfillment and distribution is about preparation and organization,” he says. “While it may look great on paper, there’s always something that happens. It’s important for business owners to be aware of what’s going on with distributors, stay in good communication with their vendors and customers and to keep track of time frames.”
That’s why Hamrick maintains a home office from where she manages distribution, monitors Internet sales and does small-order fulfillment. She’s also planning development of complementary products beginning in early 2010.
Monday, August 10, 2009
I love it when people send me pictures of OnTray being used in ways I never even imagined. I'm thrilled that it worked for this one OnTray user on the restaurant's high chair! I'd love to see pictures of how you use OnTray. E-mail them to me at email@example.com !
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
OnTray Gives Parents Extra Hand, Or Two, When They Shop With Little Ones
Innovative and award-winning snap-on shopping cart tray is available in more than 200 stores in U.S. including Buy Buy Baby and Babies R' Us (8/09)and abroad
Columbus, OH (June 22, 2009) _ Every parent needs an extra set of hands -- especially during shopping trips with little ones. OnTray, an award-winning and ingenious snap-on tray for shopping carts, keeps little ones busy and stocked with snacks or play things while parents do the shopping. OnTray also can be used to hold things such as coupons, keys and cell phones, making it a genius multi-tasker just like today's modern parents.
The idea for OnTray (ontray2go.com) was born on a day when Laura Hamrick spent an exhausting and unsuccessful grocery shopping trip handing out snacks one-by-one to her three small boys, all the while trying to look through coupons and fill the cart. "I did some research on the web and found there wasn't a product available that would free up adult hands to shop and keep little hands busy. OnTray was born out of necessity,'' Hamrick said. "OnTray encourages your child to feed or entertain himself with what you place on the tray, allowing you to shop with minimal distraction and it also can be used in conjunction with popular cart seat covers, which is convenient.''
Three years after that shopping trip, OnTray is sold online and in more than 200 stores in the United States, Canada, Australia and France. This summer the patent-pending product will also be sold at Babies ‘R Us and Buy Buy Baby stores, via OnTray's national distributor, Hamco. OnTray, retailing for $7, easily snaps on to the standard shopping cart handlebar. Available in four bright colors, it is microwave and dishwasher safe and fits easily in a diaper bag or purse. The convenient cover keeps items tucked inside during travel. OnTray is manufactured in the USA of FDA-approved plastic, free of harmful BPAs, and it meets all new requirements of the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, so parents know their toddlers and pre-schoolers can use OnTray with confidence.
From its beginning, OnTray has been featured and praised by business experts such as StartupNation and The Big Idea with Donnie Deutsch, national media and parents everywhere: "I don’t know how many times I’ve been trying to move quickly through the shopping aisles while trying to fish crackers out of a crumpled bag for my daughter. With this secure tray, both she and I are happier. This is brilliant!'' wrote a reviewer for Southern New Hampshire Parents. And praise even from celebrities such as Jason Reitman, the director of Juno, and father of Josie: "Fun product! We'll keep it in our car for shopping trips!'' Hamrick, who never intended to become an inventor, says she gets great feedback all the time. "I love when parents tell me OnTray is a sanity saver for them while they are shopping with their young children,'' Hamrick said. "I know it is something I don’t shop without and I hope it’s a staple item in moms’ purses and diaper bags.”
More about Laura Hamrick and OnTray
Laura Hamrick invented OnTray in 2006. She has degree in Early Childhood Development and is a former sales executive. Hamrick lives in the Columbus area with her husband and three sons, where she is founder of the Women’s Networking Group of Central Ohio. OnTray (www.ontray2go.com) has received numerous awards including the New Parents Guide Seal of Approval and was selected as one of The Top 10 Most Innovative 2007 by StartupNation in their Home Based 100 Search. Connect with Hamrick and OnTray through Twitter at @OnTray2Go and Facebook, www. Facebook.com/OnTray
phone: 614-313-0530 or 888-208-9240
Suggested story ideas
Laura Hamrick, inventor and owner of OnTray, would be an ideal source on a variety of stories, including:
+ How to take an idea and turn it into a patented, successful product. What you need to know and what you need to avoid.
+ Some businesses are expanding in a recession. A business feature offering tips from experts and small businesses on how to win during the down-turn. (Laura Hamrick's OnTray will be in an additional 133 stores this summer.)
+ How to pitch your product to retailers and customers alike with minimal effort and expense by using social media strategies and business-focused message boards.
+ A feature on cool and unusual gadgets and items that make shopping with the kiddos easier. Some examples, Dwink to keep juice boxes from squishing; Sippy Pal, a strap that keeps kids from throwing their cups; the Clean Shopper, to cover the shopping cart seat; and OnTray, to hold snacks and toys.
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
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Thursday, February 19, 2009
Don't get me wrong, I love and am quite thankful for my Independent Retailer's across the country, but when I walked into one of the many local grocery stores in my area, Meijer's, and saw OnTray hanging from a clip strip, my heart skipped a bit! I mean, there it was...aisle 7 by the Animal Crackers. I grabbed my camera and you should have seen the look on this mother who was shopping with her children. She probably thought, "Who the heck is this crazy lady with a camera at Meijers?" She was just hanging out and finally I said, "I'm going to take a picture of this product...it's actually my product!!" She looked at it, looked back at me and just walked away. I guess she wasn't impressed. Oh well, I'm thrilled!
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
OnTray on her site, http://www.the-giveaway.com/2009/01/ontray-review.html and she's also giving one away! Check it out and be sure to register.