Green Glove Dryer: Production Heats up in Kalamazoo0
While it may seem like winter might never end and shedding the soggy-one-minute-and-frozen-the-next winter layer is a mere glimmer of hope, take heart in knowing that one simple product could help get you to the finish line we call spring. Enter the Green Glove Dryer.
A winter outdoor enthusiast and Cassopolis native, Western Michigan University (WMU) alumna Karen Smoots was in need of a solution to what some call the "Michigan Mitten Syndrome." Having two children and a husband who were always outside, she never ran short on ice-encrusted, wet, soggy gloves and hats which never completely dried - even during an energy-sucking 30-minute drying cycle.
It was in their Portage garage that the Green Glove Dryer started to take shape. Working with her industrial engineer husband Ryan, they created a device which discreetly fits over a floor heat register, capturing warm air that is already in motion (that's what makes it green!). It was capable of drying up to six gloves at a time on breathable nozzle-extensions, from the inside out, in under an hour.
Combining her WMU business degree with Michigan mom know-how, Smoots quickly moved the Green Glove Dryer concept to reality. After tweaking the prototypes, the couple worked with Levannes, Inc. of Portage to design molds for the device and added a nifty carrying bag. The Green Glove Dryer was born.
It was also important to the couple that their new green product be manufactured locally. In fact, it was clear that there were no other choices.
"We are proud to manufacture our product here in Kalamazoo County," said Smoots. "We have become very close to the family of WL Molding of Michigan, which is where our product is manufactured. We cannot imagine being anywhere else," Smoots said. "They have the capabilities to grow with the company and we are thrilled to be part of their family."
And will they be growing with more products, both green and helpful?
"Products are in our pipeline and, yes, all green energy and most will be made of all recycled materials," said Smoots.
With a patent pending and applying the business school concepts of "SELL, SELL" and "professionalism, persistence, and patience," her goal in the next three years is to move the product into a household name.
"It takes a long time to build brand awareness and we are doing so with a very small budget. We hope to be in one to two of the major sporting goods stores and have a great presence on Amazon," Smoots said.
"We love being back here to have a slower pace. My husband is able to spend more time with the kids and me. We are close to family, Lake Michigan, especially WMU and the Kalamazoo/Portage community!"