American Executive - July 2010 - (Page 138)
This prototype manufacturer invents more than 200 new products a month and still has fun doing it. George Davison explains.
end to think the glass is half empty? If so, don’t bother knocking on the door of Davison. “If you don’t have a positive state of mind, I guarantee you won’t be around here very long,” said George Davison, CEO and founder of the Pittsburgh company. Davison is the country’s largest prototype manufacturer, offering a soup-to-nuts package for entrepreneurs and corporations alike to design, prototype, engineer, package, and market their ideas to retail outlets. To date, there have been 150 products in more than 500 online and brick-and-mortar stores created by Davison. “Five hundred is a big number,” said Davison. “We started with nothing, and here we are 20 years later changing the world in this tiny way.” Davison launched his company in 1989, after a corporation beat him to market with a product for sanitizing toothbrushes. He had been working on the idea on his own for two years. Frustrated at how long the new product development cycle took, especially for entrepreneurs with limited resources, Davison decided to reinvent inventing. Central to this reinvention was the idea of “mass producing” innovation. In addition to bringing all the development steps under one roof and producing enough volume to save on raw material and other operating costs, Davison and his team have invented systems and technology that streamline the development cycle. 138 American Executive July 2010 But his greatest invention, he believes, is his nine-step method that makes inventing more affordable for corporations and entrepreneurs looking to develop a new product. His method includes all facets of development, from ideation to package design, complete with engineering, pricing, and sourcing, so every sample that rolls off the line is ready to present to buyers. “We’ve created a methodology and production line that rolls out 40 new product samples a week. Everything is designed to fit into a corporation’s product line; we listen to companies and their problems and then design solutions for them at an economical price point,” Davison said. One such company is Xtraordinary Home Products. Davison innovations resulted in four new kitchen products being picked up by a domestics merchandise retailer at a recent buyer meeting. “Everything I showed the company, it loved,” said Scott Nicholson, president of XHP, a division of Focus Products Group. “When I walk into these meetings with Davison product samples, I feel very confident.” Although the company had been in business for more than 20 years, things really took off in 2006 when Davison created Inventionland. The inventing factory that houses his method provides the space and ability for employees to specialize, so each one works in his or her field of expertise, and projects flow in an assembly-line fashion. “Davison is like the Henry Ford of inventing,” said Keith Schmidt, principal of Bridge Connections, a marketing
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