Category Archives: Manufacturing

West Michigan & The Hardware Store – Take a Walk Down the Aisle

Hardware StoreMaybe you only visit your small local one, or perhaps you prefer the big box one, whichever type of hardware store you choose you’d be able to find an interesting array of West Michigan made products. With West Michigan’s manufacturing footprint, it is only logical that there are many local businesses that are filling the shelves at hardware stores. So lets take a nice virtual trip through a hardware store and see what we can find.

Usually the most brightly lit part of the store is the paint section. Although this company isn’t actually selling consumers anything, they have quite the presence at the paint counter. X-Rite is a company that produces color measurement equipment and software. They manufacture paint matching equipment called spectrophotometers (spectro), allowing hardware stores and paint stores to match the color of anything a consumer brings in, giving you a can of paint in the exact same color of your sample. So next time you are at a paint counter take a look around and see if you can spot the spectro.

Now, the one thing that you always need MITmore of and never have enough of are tools. Hardware stores are the perfect spot to add to your collection or get that one tool you just need to finish your project. Luckily Michigan Industrial Tools based in Grand Rapids produces over 2,000 different types of tools under 3 sub brands  – Tekton, Maxcraft, and Workshop. I will also have to say that I am quite the fan of their logo with how they still worked in an “I” and a “T” in the “M”, very subtle but well done.

Another company with a lot of sub-brands is National Nail Corporation in Wyoming. Although they do offer numerous nails, the company is really staking themselves on the following two sub-brands – CAMO Fasteners and Stinger Cap Systems. The CAMO Fasteners system is a way to screw down lumber decking without having the screws showing, a hidden screw system (the video showcases it quite nicely.) Stinger Caps is a new way of attaching insulation wrap on new construction which seems a lot easier than a nail hammer.

Since we just got done talking about decks and hidden fastening systems, we might as well go to the lumber yard. Universal Forest Products based in Grand Rapids, produces lumber for decking, and almost every other use, in additUniversal-Forest-Products-Inc.ion to a wide range of other wood based products. If you have any more questions you might as well spend some time playing around in their little city program here.

hexarmor-logoPerhaps these two should go hand in hand. We have Grand Rapids based Hexarmor who produces gloves, armbands, and other apparel for personal protection against cuts, punctures, and other injuries. Their technology is a competitor of Kevlar and they have been getting into similar industries, and their focus is on protecting people. Klever Innovations located in Grand Haven developed a new type of box cutter called the Klever Cutter. This box cutter was created in response to 9/11 because the traditional box cutter being used as a weapon. The group that founded Klever Cutter set up to create a product that would open boxes, but would not cut the anyone, or damage the goods inside the box. So with the Klever Cutter you wouldn’t need a pair of Hexarmor gloves now would you?

Shuffling over to the home improvement area, we have some redundancy with the following two products Quick Door Hanger and EZ-Hang, (though if I had been “klever” I would have worked both of these companies into my last post). Both these products allow for quick, easy and plumb door installations. Quick Door Hanger is produced by Express Products located in Grandville. The EZ-Hang door is based in Hesperia. Express Products also produces the Fix-A-Kink product that helps fixed kinked hoses. It seems that they have found quite the niche with home improvement products for consumers.

Alright logograbber75we made it through the store, now its time to checkout. But even the checkout aisle has a few impulse items for us to look at. Especially in the fall and winter season you will be seeing many displays for hand warmers like Grabber (not at all fond of the name) based in Grand Rapids. There is an extensive write up in Rapid Growth about how they are more than just hand warmers and how the company got started.

Lastly, who couldn’t use a pair of new shades, that is where Global Vision of Byron Center comes in. They are a wholesaler of sunglasses, safety glasses, and goggles which are perfect for the hardware store. Interesting side note, apparently both Global Vision and Grabbers have the same marketing person – Matt Pickel. Someone needs to update their website.

We finally got out of the store, except now we have a cart full of stuff that we didn’t come in here to buy. Oh well that is how it usually works anyways.  So what did I miss? Do we need to go to the home and garden section next?

Hung

Confession time, I have way too many saved bookmarks on my internet browser.  Occasionally I go through and try to purge any links that no longer work or that I don’t find interesting anymore.  Now every time I did this I always hesitated on one link on whether I should delete it or keep it.  Well I decided to keep it and look now I have a blog post.

The link in question is http://www.robertcarltonhangers.com/.  Robert Carlton, is not a distinguished English Gentleman, but rather a local manufacturer of “high quality wooden hangers,” located in Zeeland, MI.  Per the website Robert Carlton is owned by Bennett Wood Specialties, which is a 4th generation family owned business that started back in 1906. Granted hangers aren’t really sexy or exciting like micro-breweries or start-ups, but all the same I stumbled upon this link and decided to save it.  Luckily though I happened to stumble upon on a different link this time for http://www.hangersplus.us/. Hangers Plus is a company located in Coopersville, that makes hangers! Now with Hangers Plus, they have a huge variety of hangers – plastic or wooden, US or European Style (who knew?), tops, bottoms,  outwear, or intimate…the possibilities are endless. They also manufacturer their hangers around the world – Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and India.  They also have numerous other locations.  Which is quite impressive for a company most have never heard of, tucked away in Coopersville, quietly making hangers.

How do you like that two hanger companies in West Michigan?  Honestly it isn’t a big deal, but I would have never thought that West Michigan would have had one hanger company, let alone two.  But it just goes to show the width breadth of products that are made by local companies, and also showcases how one seemingly simple product can have some many variations and ways to differentiate yourself.

Generic… err Private Label Manufacturing in West Michigan

As discussed in a past post, West Michigan with its rich Dutch heritage has a reputation of being cheap. One thing that exemplifies the perception of cheap is the store brands or private labels products you can purchase in stores right along side the name brand products. You know the Meijer peanut butter, Spartan Stores frozen broccoli, or Walgreen’s toothbrushes. Almost every store has a complete offering of products with their store brand emblazoned on the product, and it is generally cheaper than the name brand version sitting right next to it. Well it shouldn’t surprise anyone that West Michigan is home to a number of these private label manufacturers making a wide array of products to sell to consumers with a store brand name on the packaging. Here is a list I have compiled, so lets get rolling!

Cheeze Kurls – But not only do they make Cheeze Kurls, but they also make balls, puffs, pops, fries, nuggets, pieces, among other delicious products. So while you might see their own brand on the shelves but most likely some of the store brands you purchase have been produced by Cheeze Kurls. Per this article 85% of their business is private label – some of the noted customers are Meijer, Spartan, Dollar Tree, Family Dollar, CVS, and Rite-Aid.  Cheeze Kurls is located in the Walker area nearby Meijer.  Check out MiBiz’s piece on the company for an extremely thorough look at the company and on the snack food.

Quincy Street Inc.  – Is a private label meat (pork)  processor located in Holland on Quincy Street!  They definitely get extra points for originality in naming their company.

Request Foods – Surprisingly we have already covered Request Foods and how their company name was inspired by the DeVos’ Windquest boat.  I just don’t know about Holland companies and the way they go about naming their companies.  To recap Request Foods specializes in frozen entrees and provides private labeling, just look the picture and imagine your private label here.

Festida Foods –  Staying with the snack food theme, Grand Rapids is also home to Festida Foods, a private label manufacturer of tortilla chips and corn chips – what exactly is a corn chip and how is it different from a tortilla chip?  Earlier this  year they moved from Cedar Springs to a facility in Grand Rapids to meet their recent growth.

Artesian Distillers – Yes private label vodka, whisky, gin, or rum is now available, thanks to Grand Rapids based Artesian Distillers.  Based on their website they say they are working on opening up a tasting room in Rockford.  It’s a husband and wife team that started the operation.  I can’t wait to see my Meijer brand Vodka, or Spartan Rum.

Magnum Coffee Roastery – This one I found purely on dumb luck.  For some reason I was driving through Nunica (I know right), and smelled coffee in the air and saw this large building on the side of the road.  This lead me to do some more research on Magnum Coffee Roastery, and by research I just looked up their website.  Well they too offer private label brands.

Down Inc – Is a 50 year company based in Grand Rapids that produces down filled comforters and pillows for private labels.  In an interesting move Down Inc. actually named some of their customers in this Grand Rapids Press article – like Crate & Barrel, Room & Board, and how they supply JW Marriott and the Amway Grand Hotels (kudos to the hotels for buying local).  In a wise business decision of vertical integration – Down Inc is owned by Maple Leaf Farms – the largest producer of duck meat in the US.  So now we know where all those duck feathers come from, what a perfect idea… it almost makes too much sense.

Ranir – Oral care from West Michigan. Yes, Ranir in Grand Rapids is a leading private label manufacturer of oral care products – ranging from tooth brushes, to floss, whitening products to other assorted mouth related products.

Perrigo – One of the best known companies in the region is Perrigo based in Allegan.  They are the world’s largest manufacturer of OTC pharmaceutical products for the store brand markets.  As a company they have been broadening their product offerings with recent acquisitions of baby formula, and pet care brand Sergeant’s.  If you can be sure to check out their factory store in downtown Allegan so you can see all the store brands for yourself, side by side.  Here is an image from their historical medicinal display from within the store.

Pretty interesting list, and potentially mind blowing.  Especially if you were one of those people who always prefers Meijer cheese curls snacks over Spartan brand, you might be eating the exact same snack, or using the exact same toothbrush or whatever.  So any other private label manufacturers out that you are aware of?  Please share them with me in the comments section.

Aster Workshops – Start Garden Entry

Well this seems like a no-brainer, Start Garden has an entry for the competition on August 16th, called Aster Workshops. If you need me to spell things out for you, Aster is a flower, and flowers grow in gardens. How perfect would it be for Start Garden to select Aster Workshops as a winner, and then help Aster Workshops “grow” with the $5,000 prize, and help “nurture” the company forward until it “blossoms”.

Anyways the Aster Workshops idea was submitted by Tom Pietri, a friend of mine who I have worked together with the Google Fiber for Holland campaign back in 2010. I was interested to hear from Tom firsthand about this idea, and I had a chance to recently interview him about the idea. Enjoy.

  • The Ledger: What is the idea? – Tom Pietri: The idea is to have a
    network of independent craftsmen who would build high quality production furniture.
  • TL: Ok, lets get some more details. – TP: I have a group of
    craftsmen, like woodworkers, welders, and finishers.  Each of these
    craftsmen has the skills to create furniture and they have all the
    necessary equipment, tools, in either their home garage, pole barn, or workshop.  I would design the furniture, and sell the finished
    furniture through furniture stores or our website to consumers.  When an order would come in for a set number of pieces, I would find out which of my craftsmen would have the time and capacity to complete their part of the furniture project, within certain number of days.  Once their part is completed, I would inspect the finished pieces, and deliver them to next craftsman to work on.  For example if an order for a table was made – I would provide the wood for the woodworkers, who would complete the wood portion of the table.  Then the wood portion would be brought to the finisher, who would then add a finish to the wood table top, and finally the wooden tabletop would be joined with the metal base for the table which was created by the welder.
  • TL: Sounds like you are the glue in this whole operation, bringing everything together, and filling in the spots. Can you elaborate more on your role? – TP: Sure.  Right now I have a small group of craftsmen, who are ready to go.  But of course as things get going, I will have to add to my roster of craftsmen at Aster Workshops, so that would involve validating any new craftsmen, by checking their work, and ensuring that it meets my quality standards.  In addition I am also the lead designer, creating the furniture designs, and developing new ideas.  But of course as this gets moving along, I might also be interested to taking submissions of designs from other people as well to incorporate their work into the process.  Then I am doing almost everything else.  Like talking with the furniture stores, receiving feedback to develop the product catalog further, and also doing quality control checks on the pieces of furniture, delivering materials, and finished products as needed, and finally also acting as a craftsman as well, if demand goes over capacity, I am ready to act as a safety valve, as I already build custom furniture in my home shop.
  • TL: You mentioned furniture stores, is that your primary customer? – TP: Initially yes, local furniture stores are a great starting point, because they already are known in the market, they have intimate knowledge on the market, the consumers, and furniture trends. I am hoping that by working with the furniture stores we can design and create pieces that may fill a gap in their current offering, and also learn how Aster Workshops can better serve the market and the customers.  But we are open to selling to individuals as well, so when our website gets updated with our designs, feel free to contact us with any interest.
  • TL: Where did this idea come from? – TP: I currently build custom furniture pieces, and wanted to expand my market, and get more regular business, but since there is only me, I have limited capacity. Realizing that there must be other local craftsmen in the area, who do the same thing, and would like to leverage their skills and abilities to create pieces, what if I could link up all the various craftsmen, so we could operate like a factory, but without all the overhead, and fixed costs.  The craftsman would be well compensated for their work, and they would only take new projects as they have capacity for.  I thought it made perfect sense.
  • TL: What is in it for the craftsmen? – TP: Obliviously, they will
    be paid for their work.  They will also be able to do something that
    they enjoy doing.  I enjoy being an independent craftsman, and take a lot of pride in my work, and there is nothing more satisfying than
    being able to create something like furniture with your own hands and tools.  The next best thing is hearing the reaction from the recipient or customer of the piece created.  So if I enjoy this feeling every time I am creating something, I am sure that there must be many other craftsmen who feel the same way.  By creating this network, these craftsmen can employ their craft and use their skills to be part of something bigger, and have access to more regular work, and be a part of a whole community.  Plus they get to put their Maker’s Mark on the pieces they make.
  • TL: Maker’s Mark? I am guessing this is not a bottle of whiskey you are referring too. – TP: Hahaha, no.  What I wanted to do was have something unique to each craftsman who is part of Aster Workshops, to have their own unique mark, that signifies that this piece of furniture was made by a unique individual, and not a faceless company. Each craftsman would have their mark, and this will be placed on the furniture, along with any other craftsmen who had their hands in creating the piece of furniture. These Maker’s Marks will be placed somewhere inconspicuous.
  • TL: So if you get selected by Start Garden what would you use that $5,000 for? – TP:Mainly operating capital, I need to ensure that the pieces that we are designing and creating would be well received in the furniture stores, and that they would be selling regularly.  So we will need to do some testing on various designs to determine what is going to sell.
  • TL: Now that I asked you about the best possible outcome with your entry, I need to follow-up with what happens if you don’t win? – TP: Well since I can always re-enter Start Garden, I will re-work my entry and try again through that avenue.  But I would also look at some standard investment strategies, and if neither of those go through, then I would use my own money and just go at a much slower pace to create and grow my business.  So no matter what happens, keep checking asterworkshops.com.
  • TL: Great, thanks for the information Tom, and definitely keep us posted, and The Ledger would like to keep checking up on your progress periodically. – TP: Not a problem at all, and hopefully I will have some good news to share.

There we go, an in-depth look at Aster Workshops, one of the entrants in Start Garden. It is quite an interesting idea, because almost everyone knows a craftsman – either a co-worker, family member, or a neighbor. You know the guy or girl, with a garage full of tools and equipment, and who is always working on some new project or product. They are everywhere. The best thing is that the people who do build stuff on their own time, in their own workshops, are passionate about what they do, and they enjoy doing it. With West Michigan’s rich heritage in furniture manufacturing and woodworking, this region is ripe with people who can do this type of work, and also people who appreciate the end result. So why not leverage this ready and available resource, to help create unique furniture pieces, that each have their own story to tell.

Anyways best of luck to Aster Workshops, and if this idea really resonates with you be sure to vote for them by Thursday August 16th, at http://startgarden.com/ideas/detail/aster-workshops.

Questions for Tom Pietri and of Aster Workshops – email him at tom@asterworkshops.com or visit the website asterworkshops.com.

The Miller’s

Having driven down Main Street in Zeeland before, I never paid much attention to some of the businesses located on the east stretch of the road by Chicago Drive.  Then one day, while driving down Main Street, it hit me- Herman & Howard Miller!  These two similarly named businesses are located right across the street from one another.  I thought it was quite peculiar that the Herman Miller facility is located on the north side of Main Street at address number 855, and Howard Miller is located directly across from Herman Miller on the south side of Main Street at address number 860.  I even took a photo (amazing right).

Obviously, I had to research this  connection and come up with some wild theories on how this curious arrangement came to be.  I even had the “Brothers from Other Mothers” blog title developed (I guess the Miller’s will do).  But this all came crashing down, as soon as I read the following line from Wikipedia– “Howard Miller Clock Company was founded in 1926 as the Herman Miller Clock Company division of office furniture manufacturer Herman Miller. It was spun off in 1937 and re-named, under the leadership of Herman Miller’s son Howard C. Miller.”  Digging into Herman Miller’s company history page they had a slightly different version of events, namely D.J. Dupree, the president of Herman Miller and son-in-law to Herman Miller, and brother-in-law to Howard Miller, spun off the company to Howard.   I should also mention that the companies are no longer affiliated with each other.

Sad to say but I am mildly disappointed, I was hoping for some more drama.  My great title, and all my wild theories went out the door, like pure coincidence, dueling brothers, extreme Herman Miller fanboy, or overly aggressive salesman trying to right the coattails of the Miller name and all along it was just pure nepotism (or was it), though maybe there was some dueling brothers-in-law back story.

Herman Miller Logo

But at least it makes sense.  Naturally having a company division spun off and close in proximity to the headquarters was beneficial back in the 1920s and 30s.  It would be interesting to learn more on why the Howard Miller was spun off.

Besides the same last names and H first names, and locations, there are some other similarities between the companies with their logos.  The rounded valley in the Herman Miller logo, and the rounded parts of the bottom and top of the U shaped parts that for the H in the Howard Miller logo.

Likewise, I also see a lot more similarities between Herman Miller logo with Motorola’s.  When I was new to the area I was always curious on why Motorola had such a huge presence in West Michigan (stupid, stupid, stupid).

Motorola

Read more about Howard Miller history here, and Herman Miller history here.

I wonder if they each have their own softball teams with the Zeeland Rec league, maybe that’s where the (most likely imagined) bad blood is.

Maybe It’s the Factory Outlet Stores That Make West Michiganders Cheap

(Note this story originally appeared in the the August/September 2011 version of Urban Street | Shore West Magazine)

West Michigan has a reputation…thrifty, cheap, frugal, any way you put it West Michiganders like a deal, or so they say.

But there may be a reason for this; our region is home to a large number of manufacturers.  Often times these manufacturers have overruns, returns, or just old inventory that they need to get rid of.  Lucky for us many of these corporations have factory outlets stores that are open to the public.  These factory outlet stores enable the manufacturers to move some of their extra, old, or returned products, which are available at considerable discount to patrons of the store.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the outlet stores, and see what we may find.

As the name implies, Lakeshore Candle Company produces candles.  These candles are hand poured in their Zeeland facility, where they also have an outlet store at 9434 Pentatech Drive.  According to President Jon Haveman, the store was started as a way to move candles that do not meet their stringent quality standards for their retail store customers.  So often times the outlet store may feature “second quality” candles, which may be up to 50%, discount.  “Second quality” means that the candles have small defects like the wick isn’t centered, or the color is the wrong hue, or maybe label issues, none of which affect how the candle’s performance and fragrance.  Those with non-discriminating eyes, these “second quality” candles are just as good as the ones shipped to customers.  Lakeshore Candle Company’s outlet store is open 10 to 4 Monday through Friday.

Another well-known local manufacturer is Haworth, one of the leading producers of office furniture and workspaces, and they too have a factory outlet store.  But their story is a little more unique.  Haworth has a zero waste to landfill policy, meaning that they do not send any garbage to a landfill.  Recycling and re-using are of huge importance to Haworth.  The outlet store at 1451-100 M-40 in Holland, sells a wide variety of items.  In addition to production overruns, returns, and old products, you might even find some items coming from Haworth’s own facilities that they can no longer use.  So not only could you furnish your home office, but you might also pick up fabric to reupholster the couch, locker to store items in the garage, and even find some extra corporate gifts that might look great in your new office.  You’d surprised at what you may find, and the inventory changes very quickly so be sure to check back often for new items.  According to Haworth, it’s recommend to call the store ahead of time to confirm hours as there may be special sale or inventory hours.  Normal hours are Monday through Thursday 10 to 6, and Friday 7 to 4, and the store can be reached at 616-393-4300.

If you are willing to take a little drive to Allegan, you can also purchase medicine, vitamins, and other healthcare items for a significant discount (as long as you don’t mind the generic labels) from the Perrigo factory outlet store.  Perrigo is a leading manufacturer of over the counter medicines and vitamins, and prescription pharmaceutical products.  The outlet store is at 300 Water Street in Allegan, and their hours of operation are 11 to 5 Monday through Friday, and 9 to 1 on Saturday.  The store can be reached at 269-673-7962.

For those of you still looking for deals be sure to check out the following places as well:

  • Holland Bar Stool Company at 12839 Corporate Circle Place in Holland, has an outlet store where you can pick up stools.  Visit www.barstoolshowroom.com for more details.
  • Zeeland based Herman Miller, another leading office furniture manufacturer, uses Office Outlet at 455 West Washington Street in Zeeland, as their outlet store.  For more information visit www.officeoutlet.net.

Maybe West Michigan does not deserve its reputation as being cheap, but with so many local manufacturers selling their products at discounted prices, how can you resist.

By the way a special thanks to Haworth and Lakeshore Candle Company for answering some questions and providing additional information about their outlet stores.

Creating for a Greater Good

Well this was supposed to be my Christmas post but I got a little sidetracked (thanks Spearia).

West Michigan is known nationwide for being a very charitable region.  In fact according to the Grand Rapids Convention & Visitors Bureau, West Michigan ranks as the second most generous place in the nation for charitable giving. (anyone have a better link for this study?)

Based on this information and inspired by this extremely cool article from National Geographic “Big Ideas:  Little Packages“, I thought I had the makings of an interesting post.  The Big Ideas: Little Packages story features products designed to be affordable and to solve solutions in developing countries.  Some of the products highlighted are a infant warmer, paper asthma spacer, rolling water container, and solar powered laptops.

Reading about all these great products that solve very serious problems in developing countries, started to remind me of how West Michigan companies are doing their part to provide solutions as well.  Of course with West Michigan’s background in charitable giving it should come as no suprise that our areas innovations extend far beyond just donating dollars.  Here is a list of some companies/organizations that I have come across:

  • Personal Energy Transportation Carts – Some retired seniors from the Holland area began a non-profit venture creating PET carts for children in developing countries, who have lost limbs from landmines.  Often times children who have lost limbs have difficulty traveling, because of rough terrain (roads are quite lacking) and these carts enable children to more easily traverse the terrain in their homeland.
  • K-Light Solar Lantern – A local West Michigan company PiSAT Solar produces solar lanterns.  The company focuses on the “triple bottom line”–economic viability, environmental accountability and social responsibility.  To live up to their vision PiSAT Solar along with the Koinonia Foundation started a program of donating one K-Light Solar Lantern (to people in need in developing countries) for every lantern purchased.  The Koinonia Foundation provides assistance under a number of their programs, one of which is the Beacon Program, which encourage economic growth and poverty reduction by helping unemployed mothers begin sustainable businesses.
  • Boxed Water is Better – This Grand Rapids based company sells water in cardboard containers, which is more environmentally friendly (renewable resource, can be shipped flat, and can be recycled).  Additionally, Boxed Water is Better also is quite charitable (but they haven’t donated anything yet, since they have yet to turn a profit), since they will donate 10% of their profit to world water relief foundations, and they will also give an additional 10% to reforestation foundations as well.
  • Life Straw – The Life Straw is a portable water filter that can be used at the water source to provide clean drinking water (when drinking water through the straw).  Although the company Vestergaard Frandsen is based in Switzerland, they have leveraged a West Michigan company to create a video for them.  Creo Productions created a video for Life Straw (bottom , left corner of page). It’s an interesting story in that Aaron Carriere (co-founder of Cre0) got sick in Ecuador, and wanted to do something about the global unclean water problem and reached out to Vestergaard Frandsen, with an offer to help create a video for Life Straw.
  • SCR Michigan – Native Ghanaian and owner of SCR Michigan, a Kalamazoo computer repair shop, Stephen Opoku has also begun to donate computers to his native Ghana through the Global Host Project, which is building a center to train Ghanaians on computers.  Stephen is looking for any computer donations, so that he could fix them and send them back to his native country.  Read more about this story here.
  • ELEMENTAL – So this is a late addition to the bunch, but the ELEMENTAL Project is an online magazine devoted to covering the “good news”.  Four guys founded this company in Grand Rapids as a avenue to  “showcase positive stories, and promote cause based businesses, charities, and individuals who are actively helping others. By publishing these unheard stories we’re hoping to inspire involvement and bridge the gap between people with resources and those in need.” They have some cool stories on their about positive things, which is much better than what you usually get in your local paper.

It is great to find people combining West Michigan strengths in charitable giving and in innovation.  Very inspiring, and I just wish there were more examples from our area, because all of the products highlighted by the National Geographic article are amazing in their relatively simple design, and how they solve such a huge problem. So what did I miss?