Most floor mats sold in the U.S. are made in China. So when Daniel Bouzide decided to start a company that would make high-quality floor mats in America, he knew the odds were stacked against him.
But Bouzide had one big advantage: With a decade of experience as a manufacturing rep in the flooring industry, he knew what customers liked and disliked about existing mats.
"I saw an opportunity to create a high-quality floor mat that [would offer] consumers more than the obvious," he said.
He spent six months researching and developing a line of therapeutic, anti-fatigue, antibacterial floor mats for home and business use. In January 2005, he launched his company, Smart Step, which began to manufacture WellnessMats in St. Louis.
"I wasn't convinced that I would save money or get the best quality by going abroad," he said. "My goal all along was to make the absolute best product."
The mats, which sell for $195, are more than double the price of competitors'. But because higher-quality mats last much longer, his firm's mats are more cost-effective in the long run, he said.
WellnessMats are sold at more than 700 retailers nationwide. Since 2008, the company has enjoyed 30% to 35% annual sales growth and, Bouzide added, "we're quite profitable."
These young Americans and factory veterans are committed to keeping "Made in USA" alive and thriving.