Walmart Seeks Pitches for Made-in-USA Products

April 12, 2016, 11:21 AM HST · Updated April 13, 1:32 PM
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Maui-based Kolani Distillers LLC, the makers of Old Lahaina Rum, was the only company from Hawai‘i to land a deal at Walmart’s Open Call event in 2015.

Maui-based Kolani Distillers LLC, the makers of Old Lahaina Rum, was the only company from Hawai‘i to land a deal at Walmart’s Open Call event in 2015.

Registration has already begun for a daylong event on June 28 at Walmart’s global headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, where entrepreneurs will pitch their made-in-the-USA products to Walmart’s buyers.

The deadline for entrepreneurs to register for Open Call is May 27.

“We are opening our doors and making our buyers available to meet with suppliers with one goal in mind: Buy more American products,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of US Sourcing and Manufacturing. “From food to toys to apparel, and companies large and small from coast to coast, we want to make a deal with you for your US-made products.”

Open Call is about more than entrepreneurs pitching products to Walmart. The US Manufacturing Summit and Open Call bring together industry experts, government officials, suppliers and innovators.

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Attendees have the opportunity to explore the infrastructure and economic development opportunities available to new and expanding manufacturing facilities throughout the US.

Maui-based Kolani Distillers LLC, the makers of Old Lahaina Rum, was the only company from Hawai‘i to land a deal at Walmart’s Open Call event in 2015.

“The Walmart summit experience was pretty amazing,” said Paul Case, who started the family-owned business in 2003. “There must have been 2,000 companies at the event.

“Everyone got to go to the basic sessions that described how you approach Walmart and explained how Walmart works,” said Case. “However, if your particular product was interesting to the Walmart national buyers at the event, you were invited to a private meeting to pitch your product in person,” said Case. “If they liked your pitch, your company, your quality and your price—a few lucky suppliers—like us— actually closed a deal right there in Bentonville. To be one of just a few companies selected in such a huge event was a fabulous feeling.

“Walmart was wonderful to us and they are really serious about offering local small business products,” said Case. “For a little Hawai‘i-only company like ours, the opportunity to be on Walmart shelves here in our home state with the chance for Mainland carriage if we do well was something beyond our wildest dreams!”

Kolani’s rum will be available for sale in all 10 Hawai‘i Walmart locations later this summer.

Also in 2015, KettlePizza of Groveland, Massachusetts, a 12-person company, signed a deal for their pizza oven conversion kit to be on the shelves of 500 Walmart stores, while Myndology Inc. of Appleton, Wisconsin, a three-person company, landed a deal for its ring-bound flashcards to be sold in over 3,000 Walmart stores.

Deals are possible for just a few to thousands of Walmart stores, including Walmart.com and Sam’s Club locations across the country.

“Landing a deal with Walmart was huge for us,” said KettlePizza Co-founder George Peters. “Our deal at Open Call gave our small company the chance at a national audience, which is what we needed to take our company to the next level. There is no faster path to a national retail presence than Walmart. Our deal was a game-changer.”

“Filling out the application was exciting in itself and a chance that I couldn’t pass on,” said Nick Miller, president and wwner of Myndology Inc. “It’s not every day that you get the chance to sit down in front of a Walmart buyer and pitch the products you have put your life into, then land a deal for over 3,000 Walmart stores. Since our deal for flash cards, we’ve sold two more products to Walmart. I recommend to anyone manufacturing in the US to submit to Open Call if they want to bring their items to retail.”

In January 2013, Walmart committed to American renewal by announcing it’s intensions to help boost job creation and US manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs over 10 years.

Walmart aims to meet its commitment in a variety of ways, including buying more from existing domestic suppliers, doing business with new domestic suppliers and helping current suppliers reshore their overseas production.

For more details about Walmart’s 2016 U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call, entrepreneurs may visit walmart-jump.com.

Walmart is the world’s largest retailer.

Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.

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