The first brand that Widgeteer began selling in North America was Valira, a maker of cookware and household products based in Spain. For Widgeteer, it was the Aire Collection of cast aluminum cookware that made the most sense. Lightweight and quick to respond to changes in temperature, it is also coated in multiple layers of non-stick coating so food releases easily and the pieces are easy to clean. A true partnership, Widgeteer and Valira continue to work together today.
Since that initial venture with Valira, McHenry has learned what he considers essential to the success of his business model. First, the product needs to be truly unique and different — many European brands, for instance, have a design sensibility that makes them stand out in North America. Second, the supplier needs to be the manufacturer or at least have tight control of the manufacturing process. Finally, the companies with products carried by Widgeteer need to understand that marketing is a time-sensitive activity and be ready to respond to requests for materials in a timely fashion.
“Another thing I learned was that I would only work with people I like,” added McHenry.
A benefit of that last point? Strong personal relationships can lead to connections at other companies and even new products. In fact, Widgeteer worked with one of its clients, Geneva-based Moha, on the design and production of a new kind of vegetable peeler.