Santa’s Own bringing Christmas tree assembly, jobs home to Brunswick from … – The Plain Dealer
Until we can confirm that the demand for the product is there, we really can’t go too deep. Next year we hope to hire many, many times that.
CLEVELAND, Ohio — How about putting this on your Christmas wish list this year? An assembled-in-America Christmas tree from Santa’s Own, a Northeast Ohio company that’s working to bring its artificial Christmas tree production and assembly work from China to its Brunswick facility.
Santa’s Own has already hired its first two of what it hopes will be “many, many” employees to make and assemble its high-end Christmas trees, said Account Manager Mark Wasylow. Even better, it has already sold several hundred trees for the 2014 Christmas season.
“We’ve been manufacturing and importing artificial Christmas trees here for about 20 years, and I think we decided to do this for two reasons,” Wasylow said. One, while Santa’s Own prefers to make and sell high-end pre-lighted Christmas trees, retailing for $599 for a 7.5-foot tree to $2,999 for a 12-footer, while their competitors have gone the other way. “It’s almost become a commodity, and we like to pride ourselves on the longevity of our trees.”
Plus, in recent years, according to the company, “it’s become more and more difficult to manufacture in China,” with higher labor costs, higher raw material costs, and greater difficulty finding workers. They also hope to pare the time it takes to fill orders from the current three to four months down to several weeks — without increasing the cost.
So this year, instead of introducing a new tree, company officials decided to see if they it could move some of their assembly work to Brunswick.
“Production has always been primarily in Guangdong Province in Southeast China,” where the company still obtains the majority of its trees, wreaths, lights and other holiday decor from factories in Shenzhen and Dongguan, Wasylow said.
The company hopes to announce full-on manufacturing of some of its artificial trees by next summer, but Wasylow said they are encouraged by the initial response to their “Assembled in America” labels.
Santa’s Own is looking to hire at least three or four more workers right now, with plans for more down the line. “Because this is our first year, we have to keep it right now at a minimum,” he said. “Until we can confirm that the demand for the product is there, we really can’t go too deep. Next year we hope to hire many, many times that.
“What we’re doing now is a small percentage of our overall production, a small single-digit percentage” of the thousands of trees the company makes every year, Wasylow said.
That includes Santa’s Own Growing Tree, which lets customers adjust the height of their tree from 7-and-a-half foot height to 9 or 10 feet, with additional parts. All the Brunswick-assembled trees will also feature Stay-Lit lighting, a patented technology where a chip in the base of each light bulb energizes to maintain connectivity in the string even if one bulb burns out.
Santa’s Own, founded in 1995 as a division of specialty retailer Litehouse Products, is now a part of ATP Leisure LLC, that sells exclusively to Litehouse Pools & Spas and other independent stores in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Its products can be viewed on its website, www.santasown.com, but it does not sell trees to big box chain stores or directly to consumers.
“We are excited about employing more local people and bringing the full manufacturing process to the area as early as next year,” Brian Love, company president, said in a written statement.
“Our intent is to grow our business each year and also to promote efficiency by manufacturing many of our product components ourselves,” Love said.