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Silver Medal Recipient

2010 Best in Category: Cookware & Bakeware

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Focus Products Group LLC

Chicago Metallic Lasagna Trio

Focus Products Group, a company that prides itself on its strength in design across all of its brands and categories, is working hard to update its strategy across its brands and products, and in the Chicago Metallic brand, this means expanding the brand reputation from bakeware experts to baking experts, according to Trisha Cardin, the company’s marketing director.

“We have a new brand strategy, updated look and strategy,” said Cardin of Chicago Metallic’s efforts. “We’re developing new products all the time, with the goal being to make it easy for consumers to put a meal together for their families and get the great results they’re looking for.”

Products like the Lasagna Trio baking pan are a solution for consumers who want to make a simple meal and also provide options to customize and cater to members of the same family who may have different preferences. “It allows users to add variety to what’s offered,” Cardin said. “It can help them make a meal both more personal and more of a family event using something different than traditional bakeware.”

The Chicago Metallic brand is one of several under the Focus Products Group umbrella, and, said Cardin, it shares innovation with those other brands.

“Focus has an in-house team of industrial designers that feed the pipeline for new products and design, and Chicago Metallic is the brand for the true baker,” Cardin said. “The design and technology of Chicago Metallic’s products meet the needs of a true cook and baker, not just a weekend warrior.”

Helping drive the brand’s innovation is the fact that, according to Cardin, a number of Focus’ industrial designers also bake, which leads to designers striving to solve their own problems in the kitchen.

Concepts also come from finding gaps in the marketplace where designs and solutions could be applicable as well as from visiting bakeries and restaurants and noting baking trends that consumers will want to bring into their homes.

“It’s up to us to figure a way for the consumer to make this product at home easily,” Cardin said. “For example, one designer is vegetarian, but her fiancé loves meat. From that came the idea of individualizing lasagna portions in one pan.”

Once the problem is identified, the concept goes to the industrial design team, who design the products with project managers. Once the idea is prototyped, designers and project managers work with the factory on capabilities and manufacturing.

“For the Lasagna Trio, a big part of the prototyping was determining the depth and length for the wells in the pan,” Cardin said. “We were able to evaluate it and make revisions and enhancements prior to it going to the factory.”

Once the factory cuts a sample, it is sent back to Focus and tested by in-house home economists, who bake different recipes in it and make sure it is up to Chicago Metallic’s standards. Meanwhile, the company designs packaging and builds brand awareness for the product. The timeline takes anywhere from seven to nine months, Cardin said. And while a lot of work goes into the product, the design element is by far the most intensive part.

?— by Lori Schneider

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