It's been a big year for the U.S. manufacturing movement, and we only expect to see more momentum in the months and years to come. Today, on Manufacturing Day, we're celebrating some of the many U.S. companies who have become Walmart suppliers. Check out these videos to see how we're supporting American jobs, and join the conversation with #MfgDay14.
This year, Jennifer McCullough has cooked up nothing but victory. In April, she won Food Network’s reality cooking competition, Cutthroat Kitchen. And in July, she took a chance by attending Walmart’s Open Call for products that support American jobs, where she got more great news: Several of her gourmet frozen food products will soon be sold in our stores.
Sometimes, eating hard-shelled tacos can be, well … hard. At least that’s what Hugh Jarratt thought while he was in college, when his tacos repeatedly fell over and spilled. But one day, he used those moments as inspiration to invent a plate with slots to hold tacos upright. This summer, that creativity paid off.
Element Electronics recently opened a TV production facility in Winnsboro, S.C., that is a great example of how a community can be revitalized when new jobs are created. Check out the video for their story.
The world is navigating a cultural revolution into the digital age.
Meeting customers’ needs is critical as they adopt more digitally-driven lifestyles, expectations increase and increasingly shopping options do not require a trip inside a store.
With this in mind, Walmart is testing new approaches in two recently opened supercenters in Tomball, Texas, and Lake Nona, Florida. These stores were fully reimagined from a new layout to building and environmental enhancements to added technology that all improve the shopping experience.
Keep reading to learn more about these new retail environments. Or, if you’re in the area, drop by and look for yourself.
New Layout We started with customer shopping behavior to reimagine the layout for these two stores. For example, services like the beauty salon and tech repair are adjacent to relevant merchandise. Health and wellness departments are consolidated to create a single destination. Baby, toys, kids' apparel and kids' shoes form a single destination to ease mom’s shopping journey.
Scan & Go Speeding up checkout is critical to improving customer experience. So we’re testing Scan & Go technology that works both on personal smartphones and Walmart-provided handheld devices. Customers are greeted on their way into the store by a large bank of these Scan & Go wands, and new digital produce scales have been added to make scanning weighable items much easier. The Scan & Go fast pass checkout lanes allow customers to bypass the traditional checkout process, which makes a quick trip faster than ever.
SmartLife New interactive projection technology allows customers to learn about connected devices (think Google Home, Apple TV, Nest, baby monitors and connected thermostats) and get answers to what is important to them. Since images are projected onto tables and walls, there’s no chance of accidentally damaging a product, and the product details can be updated more quickly through this new platform. This technology is found in the entertainment section of the store, as well as in hardware, baby, and health and wellness for relevant department items.
Integrated Pickup Shoppers can use the outside drive-thru to pick up not just their weekly groceries, but also their prescriptions and Walmart.com orders.
Extended Aisles Step into the Tomball Supercenter and you’ll find interactive screens offering access to an extended curated selection of online-only items in almost 100 categories. Customers can order products, pay with the rest of their basket at checkout and pick up two days later.
Appointment Setting and Ordering Technology Need your deli order, fast? These stores test a new appointment and ordering kiosk system where you place your order, go shopping, then come back to quickly pick it up. If the initial test in the deli area goes well, it could be expanded to pharmacy, Auto Care Center, beauty salon or anywhere ordering and appointment setting occurs.
Next-Gen Call Buttons Shoppers simply press a Wi-Fi-connected call button and wearable GPS-enabled devices alert associates that assistance is needed. Associates wearing these devices are trained in specific store areas and are on call to help in the furniture, paint, fabrics, sporting goods and bikes areas of the store.
So what’s the bottom line? By rethinking stores and testing new ideas with customers in real-life stores, we are improving customers’ experiences and making it easier than ever for them to get what they need as quickly and easily as possible.
Poland – 4,630 miles away – is an unexpected place for a U.S. manufacturing success story to begin. But in the small city of Wieluń is where the story of Korona Candles started in 1992.
Today, a new chapter is being written in Dublin, Virginia, at the company’s first production facility in the States.
Back in Poland, the company started the manual production of candles with a team of about 20 workers and several basic machines. It was very labor intensive, Agnieszka Fafara, the company’s president and CEO, explained.
Ignited by the desire to manufacture top-quality candles, the company invested in automation and attracted more skilled employees in the process. Korona experienced tremendous growth in its hometown, building up to 900 employees.
“We are one of the most automated, advanced candle manufacturers worldwide,” said Agnieszka, who joined the company in 1999. “Our objective is to bring a luxury into the mass market. We’ve learned how to mass produce with very high standards,” she said, resulting in quality products that are affordable for the average person.
But what made a well-established Polish company decide to take a risk by opening a manufacturing facility in the U.S.?
From Europe, they’d supplied about 20% of their production to customers in the States. Moving that production to the U.S. wouldn’t be easy – Korona had to consider the costs, finding the right location, buying equipment and hiring new employees – but the reward would be better and faster customer service.
After careful planning, Korona had some meetings with Walmart in 2012, “and suddenly we were setting up production in Virginia,” Agnieszka said. Korona had been supplying tea lights to Walmart since 2010. In fact, Agnieszka was the original salesperson on the account.
The Virginia facility opened in 2014 with 50 employees and Agnieszka at the helm. In a little more than two years, that number has nearly tripled to 155 full-time workers plus 15 or so temporary employees. The Dublin facility produces 3.5 million tea lights every day, and a large percentage of those end up on the shelves at Walmart stores.
Korona’s impact on Virginia’s Pulaski County shines a light on the benefits of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Twenty years ago, that region was dominated by the furniture industry, then textiles. But as companies moved production overseas, factories closed, the unemployment rate skyrocketed and places like Dublin saw an increase in abandoned warehouses.
Not only has Korona infused new life into Dublin’s industrial zone, it also offers stability. “With the demand for our consumer goods, we can provide a safe and stable environment long term. Employees can stay here forever if they like it,” Agnieszka said.
When asked what the future looks like for Korona, Agnieszka was quick to say “we’re here to stay”. The company has invested $22 million in the Dublin facility with the objective of expanding it. “It will take time,” Agnieszka said, “but in a five-year perspective we can have another 50 or 100 people employed.”
At the beginning of 2016, Iowa Workforce Development and Hawkeye Community College in Cedar Falls came together to consider the statistic that just 2.3% of Iowa’s construction workers are women.
The construction industry has always been male dominated, but in a state where heavy equipment operators are not only in growing demand, but paid an average hourly wage of more than $23, they saw an opportunity.
From January through July 2016, the construction equipment simulator trailer made its way to all corners of the state, with stops at each of IowaWORKS’ 15 regional facilities. Anywhere from 150 to 500 Iowans turned out at each location to try their hand at the controls, gauges and equipment systems in a safe, in-cab environment, with supervision from trained instructors. In some instances, representatives from construction companies came out to connect with interested residents on the spot.
Like any industry, construction isn't for everyone. But this collaboration opened the door to the possibility of a new career path – and a better life – for Iowans. The demand for construction workers, regardless of gender, is high. So this collaboration addressed a genuine issue.
For many, it could mean a transition into higher-paying jobs, thus supporting their families and their futures. That’s a scenario where everyone wins.
Grants, Disaster and Government Relations Manager, Harvest Hope Food Bank
May 08, 2017
Members of the U.S. military and their families are very special people who sacrifice everything to ensure our safety and freedoms are protected.
Sometimes those same people are sacrificing even more than they should – they’re worried about where their families’ next meals will come from.
Here at Harvest Hope Food Bank in Columbia, South Carolina, my job is to work with local governments and businesses to understand how we can best work together to serve those in need. Working here for over six years has given me a unique perspective on hunger and it’s allowed me to see a gap we can help fill to help our military community.
We have a large military presence in South Carolina. Our state is home to several military facilities, a number of veterans’ hospitals and one of the largest military populations in the country. We have over 50,000 active and reserve troops and over 400,000 veterans living or working in our state.
With that many military men and women living and working in South Carolina, and the fact that Harvest Hope serves 20 of the 46 counties in the state, it’s understandable that we might see a few on occasion. Everyone goes through difficult times, and sometimes you just need a little boost to get back on your feet. What troubled me was how many people with military ties we were actually serving – approximately 12% of the people we see each day.
My philosophy, as well as those who work with me, is there’s no reason anyone who puts their life on the line should ever need to stand in line for food. As someone who served nine years of active duty, it’s a cause near and dear to my heart. So I took action.
In 2016, with the support of our food bank’s leadership, we developed Operation Hunger Prevention (HP). This is Harvest Hope’s first large-scale campaign focused specifically on providing food relief to active duty military, veterans and their families. We were so excited when we received grant funding from the Walmart Foundation and Bank of America Foundation to help us get the pilot program up and running – and demonstrate further the actual need for these services. The best part? We could provide assistance to active military, veterans or their family members without any cost to them or the U.S Department of Defense.
This year, we were very fortunate to receive an additional $75,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation, and take Operation HP into a stage two pilot. It will allow us to expand the program out to county veterans affairs offices and ease the burden of having to search for additional funds and sponsors. Because of this funding, we’ll have more time to focus on helping our military community and their families. It will help us provide an estimated 375,000 additional meals.
I’m proud Operation HP is able to provide additional support for such an important part of our community – relieving stress and improving overall military readiness of our troops. These men, women, and families put a lot out there to protect our freedom and ask so little in return. This is just one small way of saying thank you.