By Ian Bush
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Nothing is for certain these days when it comes to the state of our economy, but one local group is sure about a successful business strategy.
Standing next to a six-foot-tall Ferris wheel made with thousands of his company’s colored plastic parts, noting “I didn’t build this one …” K’Nex CEO Michael Araten says even kids who have iPads need to create in the physical world.
“You have rods and bricks and connectors and motors — you can build literally anything you can imagine.”
When the economy tanked in ’09, Araten says the company decided to help rebuild America, moving back from China to Montgomery County.
“We now make 95 percent of the parts, on average, right in Hatfield, and two-thirds of the finished goods within two hours of our headquarters.”
Araten says K’Nex is now on track for its best year yet. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, executive director of the Sustainable Business Network of Greater Philadelphia, isn’t surprised.
“There’s a myth, I think, that it’s cheaper to manufacture overseas. But as oil prices go up, there’s more and more companies looking at this.”
In an event on the ‘green roof’ of 777 South Broad Street on Thursday evening, the Sustainable Business Network honored K’Nex and local entrepreneurs for being “Philly made” and for their contributions to the community.