Ace Hardware Maker to Market™ event shines light on ground-breaking new products
Ace Hardware hosted its first ever Maker to Market™ Day on Sept. 20. The event, held near the Ace Hardware worldwide headquarters in Oak Brook, Ill., offered an opportunity for entrepreneurs and inventors to pitch their innovative product ideas to a panel of Ace experts who make purchasing decisions for the more than 5,000 Ace Hardware stores around the globe.
In total, more than 60 Makers pitched their innovative products; an amazing 40 of those entrepreneurs presented new-to-market, or never before seen product concepts. Ace’s Maker to Market event attracted entrepreneurs from across the U.S. and around the world, with some attendees traveling from as far as Denmark.
“The goal of Ace’s Maker to Market event is to establish a pipeline of new, differentiated and innovative products from independent Makers,” said John Sommers, Vice President of Merchandising, Ace Hardware Corporation. “We had an extremely successful first Maker to Market event, with a dynamic lineup of new products. We look forward to bringing many of them to market through Ace stores.”
At the end of the event, presentations were scored and two top-performing Makers were named winners in each of the following categories: New to Consumer Market, and New to Hardware. The two featured winners pitched standout products grounded in key Maker to Market values, including sustainability and small business entrepreneurship.
The winner from the New to Consumer Market category is Casus Grill, an inexpensive and biodegradable BBQ that retails for $12.99. The 2.2lb grill is portable, quick to heat and ideal for anyone in need of a temporary grill. It can be disposed of in a bonfire and leaves no trash.
The winner from the New to Hardware category is Stowaway™ Tools from the makers of Klecker Knives. The product is a 3D-printed phone case that holds four tools, all conveniently stored within the phone case.
Both winners will be given the opportunity to present and market their products at the upcoming Ace Hardware 2018 Spring Convention in Dallas. This event will provide product exposure to thousands of Ace Hardware store owners and managers who make buying decisions for their stores.
In addition to the category winners, Ace experts identified a number of new products from the 2017 Maker to Market event that will be pursued and brought to market through the Ace Hardware innovation platform. Distinguished products included Plugfones, Screw it again and Coverware.
Ace Hardware continuously accepts product submissions as part of its commitment to retail innovation. Entrepreneurs can submit their product information at Ace’s innovation website, http://innovatewithace.com/.
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For more than 90 years, Ace Hardware has been known as the place with the helpful hardware folks in thousands of neighborhoods across America, providing customers with a more personal kind of helpful. In 2017, Ace ranked "Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Home Improvement Retail Stores, Eleven Years in a Row," according to J.D. Power. With more than 5,000 hardware stores locally owned and operated across the globe, Ace is the largest retailer-owned hardware cooperative in the world. Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., Ace and its subsidiaries operate an expansive network of distribution centers in the U.S. and also have distribution capabilities in Ningbo, China; Colon, Panama; and Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Its retailers' stores are located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and approximately 55 countries. For more information on Ace, visit acehardware.com or the company newsroom at newsroom.acehardware.com.