The first rule to succeed in retail is to make a great product. The second rule is to make sure people see that product. After all, what’s the use of having a great product, if no one sees and subsequently buys it? Family owned Magid Glove & Safety has mastered the art of both.

The Chicago-based company was founded in 1946 by Sam Magid, his son-in-law Abe Cohen, and Abe’s brother David Cohen as a manufacturer and supplier of leather work gloves to the Midwest’s steel industry. Today, Magid Glove & Safety is a leading manufacturer, importer, distributor and direct supplier of hand protection, protective clothing, first aid and personal protective equipment for the industrial market.

In the late 1980s, it expanded into the consumer market to supply gloves for the automotive, gardening and hardware industries, as well as chemical-resistant gloves and work gloves used in cleaning, painting and other rough applications. It also provides the retail market with safety and rain protection gear such as safety glasses and ponchos, but the glove market remains the company’s mainstay.

Under the brand names HandMaster, RoadMaster and The ROC, Magid Glove & Safety consistently develops innovative and value-added solutions for its consumers. Gigi Cohen, executive vice president and third-generation family member, says the days of bulky, uncomfortable gloves that simply get the job done are over.

The Perfect Fit

“In the past, gloves were cut and sewn together,” Cohen says. “They were bulky, didn’t fit well and the seams were always wearing out. Over the last five to 10 years, we’ve been developing coated gloves. It’s more like a sweater so it stretches to fit the hand pretty tightly and you can put different coatings over it so they have more dexterity and comfort. We have lots of new coated gloves that offer more of the things that people are looking for mainly in fit, dexterity, grip and comfort.”

For instance, under its ROC brand – known by the tagline “grips like iron ... feels like bare hands” – Magid Glove & Safety has developed a durable nitrile palm coating that provides a great grip on oily or greasy parts and increased abrasion and puncture resistance. The line’s durable polyurethane palm coating also provides great grip and is ideal for jobs requiring maximum dexterity without the fatigue associated with heavier, bulkier gloves. It also makes a Kevlar fiber glove that is five times stronger than steel and offers exceptional cut resistance.

“Another thing we’ve noticed is there are lots of touchscreen devices with the iPhone and going to the iPad and the mini iPad,” Cohen says. “There have been lots of winter gloves where you can still use your phone, but not work gloves. So our new coated gloves are touchscreen compatible.”

The line’s touchscreen compatibility won Magid Glove & Safety the Innovative Product of the Year award from the National Hardware Association’s Retailer’s Choice committee. The ROC collection is well-suited to the automotive and hardware industry, but Magid Glove & Safety also offers value-added options to its other large customer base – the gardening community.

Whether they employ plastic mini-dots for greater grip, reinforced fingertips to provide wear and thorn protection, or seamless nylon knit for form-fitting and lightweight protection, HandMaster’s glove collections provide something for many gardening needs.

“We have a very large garden spring season program where we come out with different fashion collections every other year,” Cohen says. “It’s very fashion-oriented, more so than the general glove market. We keep close track of the different trends being worn in the apparel industry.”

Establishing Presence

Magid Glove & Safety markets its products the same way it develops them: channel by channel. For instance, an automotive store will carry a different line than a home center or hardware store, while a mass merchandiser might carry a variety of lines. Cohen explains that breaking into new retailers is a challenge, but through persistence, promotions and developing solutions other competitors don’t have, Magid Glove & Safety has earned a presence in stores such as Autozone, Pep Boys, Walmart, Walgreens  and Ace Hardware. Once it is in the store, Cohen says the next step is making sure it’s seen.

“Gloves are in the top-three impulse buys for hardware stores,” she says. “Almost every kind of retailer carries some assortment of gloves but because it’s a common impulse item, consumers aren’t thinking about gloves when they walk in, but when they see it, they buy it.”

The impulse nature of the glove industry presents an issue for garden centers, where plants and other tools are located outdoors but gloves are indoors. Cohen says more than 50 percent of these customers never enter the actual store and never see the gloves. Last year, the company launched a merchandising solution to this conundrum when it introduced a wheeled display that protects the gloves from the water used on the plants and the morning dew – and gets the gloves in front of the target audience.

That target audience, however, is filled with individual needs. Some users need lightweight protection, while others require something more heavy-duty. Magid Glove & Safety has made sure to address the variety of the market, and it is in the middle of redesigning its packaging to make sure customers know the features of each product.

“The new tags are a way to help consumers discern the good, better, best in each category and understand the different categories within the glove sets,” Cohen says. “There are different coatings, fits, textile versus leather versus high performance. When they approach a six-foot by eight-foot set with 32 different gloves, they can immediately see and understand the quality differences and benefits of each style.”

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