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Local

Made in Grundy: Coal City group makes Re-grip

Preval maintenance supervisor Keith Ramsey, pictured with Preval customer service representative Josh Harris, shows how simple it is to put a Re-Grip on a handle.
Preval maintenance supervisor Keith Ramsey, pictured with Preval customer service representative Josh Harris, shows how simple it is to put a Re-Grip on a handle.

COAL CITY – A thriving Coal City company, Chicago Aerosol, has just added a new product to its line that company officials say is doing very well in the marketplace and is the reason administrators are considering adding new staff to the facility.

“It’s done extraordinarily well on Amazon,” said Sam Averbuch, president of the Chicago Aerosol subsidiary, Preval. “It’s definitely diversified our Preval operation. It made it a stronger division. ... We’re on the verge of hiring more people as the business grows.”

The company is working with Home Depot, Wal-Mart, Ace Hardware, Menards and other retail outlets to sell the product, as well, he said, and added it will be available in Loews this September.

The product is called “Re-Grip.” The company describes it as a simple way to add a grip to any handle. It has won awards, as well. Its recent Bronze Award at the Edison Awards in New York City was a highlight. The award was in the category of consumer goods/tools. Its competitors were 500 innovators from 20 countries who attended the awards that celebrate outstanding achievements of innovation and business from the past year.

Here’s how it works. On the hollow inside of the product’s rubber grip is a rigid extruded plastic coil, Averbuch said. That coil keeps the grip open so it easily slides over a handle. When it’s in place, the user pulls the coil out of the rubber grip, and the grip tightens over the handle.

It’s water-resistant, solvent-resistant, anti-slip, vibration-resistant, insulated against electric shock and comfortable to hold, Chicago Aerosol’s website said.

Re-Grip was invented by two California business partners, John Vernieu and Pat Roscopf.

“John and Pat are tool lovers,” Averbuch said, “and when you love tools and getting out in your shed and working, especially if you have a favorite tool that has been passed down or one that’s new, you take pride in that. You don’t want to throw away a tool with a worn-out grip or one that’s splintered or has a little bit of damage on the handle.”

Averbuch said Chicago Aerosol acquired the Re-Grip technology about 18 months ago, and the official launch of the product was in November. The 2017 projected sales are estimated at $1 million. Each package costs around $10, depending on size.

“It’s selling like hotcakes,” he said.

Re-Grip can be used to place grips on hammers, rakes, bats, bikes, golf clubs, fishing poles, racquets, crowbars, ratchets, drills, wheelbarrows and a number of other tools, sporting equipment and other items, including rope.

The product currently is manufactured overseas, but Averbuch said the firm is looking for in-country sources.

“Inventing is only part of having a good product,” he said.

Having a successful product also includes managing supplies, logistics and shipping; making sure inventory is in place for large orders; good marketing; and having the right packaging so when the product is on the shelf, it speaks to the customer.

That’s what the Preval division of Chicago Aerosol in Coal City does.

Teresa Chapman of Morris works in the human resources division of the company. She also does the receivables and said the product already has shipped orders to other countries, including Germany, Canada and Japan.

“Who would think this little town of Coal City would have this big facility?” she said.

Chapman said employees include residents from Coal City, Morris, Wilmington, Braidwood, Gardner, Mazon and Joliet, among other neighboring communities.

Averbuch said the Coal City branch of Chicago Aerosol currently employs more than 250 people, 30 of whom help with Preval. The company also benefits the area by hiring locally whenever it is able, such as packaging companies, design firms and marketing agencies.

Chicago Aerosol also has a division in Bridgeview. The Coal City plant produces such personal care products for the hair and body as hair spray, dry shampoo, mousse, body spray, deodorant, shaving cream and temporary hair color spray.

For information about Re-Grip, visit re-grip.com.

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