Home Products International

Home Products International (HPI), with its HOMZ brand, offers simple, smartly designed home organizational solutions that make life a little easier and a lot nicer for its customers, the company says.

It specializes in the design, marketing and manufacture of quality, innovative housewares products. “We are a manufacturer and marketer of storage and organization products and garment-care products servicing a broad range of retail and B2B customers,” CEO George Hamilton explains.

HPI offers products in three major categories:

    Storage: HPI manufactures plastic totes, carts and drawers, clear storage containers and hangers at its 286,000-square-foot manufacturing and distribution facility in Chicago. The products provide storage options for every room of the house.
    Garment care: HPI manufactures and imports products used to care for clothing such as ironing boards and laundry accessories. Its plant in Seymour, Ind., is the only U.S. manufacturer of ironing boards.
    Home organization: In this category, HPI primarily imports items geared to organizing specific rooms and areas in the home, such as closets, kitchens, bathrooms and crafting areas.
History of Success

The predecessor company to HPI was founded in 1952 as Selfix Inc., manufacturing plastic hooks. When sales reached $1 million in 1962, Mike and Norma Ragir bought the company and managed it for more than three decades. It became a public company in 1988. In 1997, the holding company Home Products International Inc. was formed after several large acquisitions, and a year later, Seymour Housewares was acquired, adding the Indiana facility to the company. 

With more than 30 years of experience in the housewares business, Hamilton has been CEO since 2007. “HPI provides trend-right, value-oriented, quality products,” he says. “We are known for great customer service and flexibility in providing tailored customer programs.” 

As the top manufacturer of ironing boards, the company is focused on making ironing easier and more pleasant, including designing for maximum stability, and inclusion of features such as “infinite height adjustment” and quiet assembly with no squeaking. 

New housing starts are a big driver for ironing boards and home storage product sales. HPI also plans for sizable seasonal sales spikes during the back-to-college time of the year as well as the winter holidays, Hamilton says.

Optimized Processes

HPI’s Chicago plant features state-of-the-art molding machines as it invests in more energy-efficient machinery and processes. HPI’s manufacturing plant in Seymour is a high-speed and highly automated operation, Hamilton explains. The facility performs stamping, assembly and powder coating.

Ironing boards emerge fully packaged at the end of the process, which has been refined and automated to reduce cost and produce the boards faster. It takes approximately 45 minutes to go from rolled steel to finished goods in a box. Lean manufacturing techniques are utilized and HPI optimizes the amount of inventory it carries from start to finish. 

Some of the biggest business challenges for HPI mirror those of the retail sector at large. Given its product price-points and cube-intensive storage products, it is sensitive to freight costs. Reducing the impact of freight consequently is foremost in design, affecting everything from how big the master pack is to the size and nesting capability of totes to optimize pallet layout. HPI also is opening regional distribution sites.

The company is always innovating products for customers. It is scheduled to introduce more than 70 new products in 2014. Given the heavy investment in tooling required to support new products, it also must be selective in where to place its focus. Based on the current market, one area of emphasis is garage and attic storage products, Hamilton notes. Demographics and other retail trends also play a role in new product development.

HPI boasts a very experienced and passionate employee base, whom Hamilton praises. “We have a high-caliber workforce that understands and supports our direction,” he says. “Moreover, they understand how important it is to provide consistent high quality, value and great service to our customers.” 

HPI is especially proud that almost 85 percent of its products are produced in the United States. This allows for shorter lead-times, consistent quality and a more efficient supply chain. 

“There is currently a major emphasis on repatriating manufacturing to the U.S. and we are well-poised to take advantage of this trend and benefit going forward,” Hamilton says.

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