No matter how much the world changed around him, Jim Winey, founder of Magnepan, knew that there would always be a market for his company. Winey created the Magneplanar loudspeaker as an alternative to electrostatic loudspeakers, and the company has manufactured Magneplanar stereo and home theater speakers for the past 44 years.

Marketing Manager Wendell Diller says the invention is a “kissing cousin” to full-range electrostatic speakers and takes a purist approach when it comes to transmitting sound. The company aspires to attain the Holy Grail of loudspeaker design and the audience for its products is definitely a niche market, he says. Yet, its speakers are among the most affordable in their category.

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Inmar started more than three decades ago when its founders saw they could improve the way couponing was handled and processed, saving retailers and manufacturers money. Since that time, Inmar has branched out into other spaces and handled $38 billion in commercial transactions.

“Whenever you use a coupon, get a prescription filled or engage in a product return, chances are that Inmar platforms are somewhere in there, handling decisions and money flows and sometimes physical goods,” CEO David Mounts says.

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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.

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Some firms might be afraid to allow their workers to make major decisions, but not Little Lady Foods. Instead, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Peter Cokinos says, the company trusts its associates to make the right decisions.

“Our style and management philosophy is not to create a lot of bureaucracy,” he explains. “Our strategic focus on the customer allows the organization to make decisions always with their best interest in mind.“

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Variety and versatility are the hallmarks of the products KLN Family Brands manufactures. These include Barrel O’ Fun snack foods, Kenny's Candy, Tuffy's Pet Foods and the newest, NutHeads Chocolate Factory, which was established last year.

“Not only do we have many different branded opportunities that are excellent products and we can put excellent programs together to take care of retailers’ needs, [but] if they’re looking for a store brand, we are willing to have that conversation,” declares Shane Kangas, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kenny’s Candy.

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“Not only do we have many different branded opportunities that are excellent products and we can put excellent programs together to take care of retailers’ needs, [but] if they’re looking for a store brand, we are willing to have that conversation,” declares Shane Kangas, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Kenny’s Candy.

“A lot of manufacturers don’t want to private-label,” he points out. “We’re prone to having that conversation. It’s allowed us to do a lot of business with customers across the country. Maybe our brands don’t resonate with them, but they have a strong store following.” KLN can also provide store brands for its retail clients; in fact, Kangas estimates up to 60 percent of the company’s production is private-label.

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No matter how large Haggen Northwest Fresh has grown in the Pacific Northwest, the company’s executive team has maintained a feeling of community at each of the company’s locations in Washington and Oregon. Clement Stevens, Haggen’s senior vice president of marketing and merchandising, says that community feel is a point of emphasis for all aspects of the company’s branding.

“Haggen has an amazing heritage, for many years, of being a high-quality retailer in Western Washington,” Stevens says. “The idea of community is what everyone is trying to do today, but it has always been a part of the Haggen brand. Haggen is celebrating our 80th birthday this year [and] today, just like 80 years ago, we are focused on our customer and the community.

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If you’re going to ship a burrito nationally with a 12- to 18-month shelf life, it had better be frozen. That realization in 2005 inspired Phil Anson to start freezing the burritos he had been manufacturing since 2002 for retailers around Boulder, Colo., and it has since revolutionized the freezer cases of grocers nationwide.

EVOL is taking advantage of the movement toward natural foods and fresh products with not only burritos but gluten-free bowls and now two varieties of macaroni and cheese. The company is following its COO and founder’s original company name – Phil’s Fresh Foods LLC – as closely as it can and still distribute nationally. After all, frozen is closer to fresh than canned food.

Read more: EVOL Foods