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Gold Medal Recipient

2010 Best in Category: Kitchenware & Barware

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Progressive International Corp.

Collapsible Salad Spinner

Progressive International’s Collapsible Salad Spinner is the latest in the company’s line of collapsible kitchenware products. It is also, according to Progressive product design manager Sascha Kaposi, the one that required the most engineering and industrial design. It paid off and the Collapsible Salad Spinner was not only named Best in Category for Kitchen Tools but also received the highest honor for the day— the Gold Best of the Best award for 2010.

“We perfected the collapsible design and technology with our bowls and colanders,” said Bill Reibl, Progressive CEO, “and from there we were able to address the technical side of the process.”

Identifying that the salad spinner was the perfect next product for the collapsible line was the easy part.

“One of the things we’ve focused on is looking for items that consumers don’t use everyday but take up a lot of space,” Reibl said. “The salad spinner is ideal and it was a product where we could add a lot more functionality in making it collapsible.”

But converting that technology into a multi-piece product was a little more tricky. While the bowls and colanders that previously made up the line are single pieces, the salad spinner, which consists of a bowl and basket inside, presented a bit more of an engineering challenge.

“It’s very similar to the other products, but we had to make bowl and basket that both collapsed,” said Kaposi. “It had to be two layers of product and it had to spin on top of that, so it did present a new challenge.”

The industrial designers had to ensure that the insert spun evenly and dispersed the water from the lettuce, as well as make sure that the pieces nested together when collapsed. After approximately a year of design, engineering and manufacturing, the Collapsible Salad Spinner has been deemed by the Housewares Design Awards judges to be the leader in its category.

“We strive to understand consumer needs and to collaborate with our retail partners to bring innovation to a product category,” said Reibl

Design, said Kaposi, plays such a major part in what Progressive strives to do. “We know design is a value we can bring to industry by innovating and offering things that no one else has,” he said. “It’s a strategy that’s proven to work, and it’s a lot more fun to have a company that is a place for new ideas. It’s always great for us to see excitement from customers and buyers.”

After 30 years in the industry, the last 10 have been devoted to innovating as opposed to distributing, Reibl said.

“Our company has evolved into one that brings unique proprietary items to the marketplace,” he said. “We pride ourselves on understanding the problems consumers are trying to solve. We have a sense of obligation to help retailers differentiate themselves and be successful.”

And the company isn’t doing it alone.

“A cornerstone to our design philosophy and working style is a level of cooperation in our teams,” said Kaposi. “Openness, cooperation and collaboration are huge for us. We’re bringing a lot of products to market and no one can do it on their own.”

Collaboration within Progressive is between designers, product managers, sales, customers and suppliers. “It’s critical,” Kaposi said. “All those pieces have to fit together in order for it to work.”

?— by Lori Schneider

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