When David Kurrasch began building K-CO Products LLC back in 2008, the company was still in the process of discovering the Made In America ethos that would later define its brand. Kurrasch found a terrific product — a hose nozzle — which was made in Taiwan. He believed the nozzle’s design was unique and had significant market potential. He also felt that American-made products have big supply chain advantages, so he decided to import the product and disassemble it, with the intent to manufacture on U.S. soil.
At that time, manufacturing in China or Taiwan didn’t make sense from a cash flow and working capital perspective. It required paying half at the moment of the order and the other half when the order actually shipped. Before the product was converted, packaged, and shipped to the customer, K-CO would end up floating the working capital investment for up to six months before seeing a return. Fast forward to now and importing from China has led to loads of other supply chain issues. Not far from K-CO’s location in Irvine is the port of Long Beach, where ships are lined up, waiting to be unloaded from Asian ports. “They are a constant reminder of the bullet we dodged,” says Founder, David Kurrasch.
Kurrasch discovered that US manufacturers possessed more advanced equipment for machining the required parts and at a lower cost than importing. However, K-CO would still need to find seasonal labor to assemble the nozzle with consistent quality.
That’s when a family friend introduced him to the Compensated Work Therapy (CWT) Program through the Veteran Administration. The CWT program was created to help provide work opportunities to Disabled US Veterans. K-CO joined in partnership in 2012, with the VA’s CWT program, and here they are. Discovering this program allowed their products to remain price competitive, while providing the consistent seasonal assembly needed in their operations, specifically for that little nozzle, known as The Little Big Shot®.
Cheryl Iwata, Manager of the CWT Program at the VA says, “Our relationship with K-CO Products has benefitted our veterans by providing them with meaningful activities to participate in that allow them to work on a shared goal with their fellow veterans. This relationship has improved their quality of life and provided a needed source of additional income.”
Almost a decade later and K-CO has had over 40 disabled veterans come through their program, some of which have been with them since the start. Since then, K-CO has expanded its line of products to include the Johnny Jolter® PRO Power Plunger and GLÜ™, an all-purpose, solvent-free adhesive. This growth has allowed for more work opportunities for the Disabled Vets in the program and has extended beyond a season basis. The ‘Made in USA’ and ‘Assembled by Disabled US Veterans’ are what distinguish K-CO’s products from its competitors.
Kurrasch says, “As a family-owned and operated, American company, it’s our mission to economically support those in our family, in our community, state, and sovereign nation. That means the American worker, the American entrepreneur, and the American consumer. It’s not that there is anything wrong with supporting overseas suppliers and labor forces but supporting our own should always take priority. And by manufacturing in the U.S., we have avoided many of the supply chain issues currently affecting retail inventories in a variety of categories.”