Innovate Mississippi

Pointe Innovation Magazine Fall 2014 Issue

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Page 39 of 67

On the Way to Hog Heaven Jim Beaugez Winters can be harsh, even down in southwest Mississippi. But when an opportunity for swift job creation comes to town, the scene can heat up quickly. That's what Port Gibson experienced this past winter when local plastics manufacturer U.S. Dinnerware landed a whirlwind contract to produce the Perfect Bacon Bowl TM . Brought to market by the same group that popularized the Snuggie™ – which sold millions of units – the Perfect Bacon Bowl has been nearly inescapable on late-night telev ision, from its "As Seen on TV" commercial spots to appearances on "The Tonight Show," " The Late Show with David Letterman" and "The Arsenio Hall Show." How a small-town Mississippi manufacturer got involved with such a high-stakes opportunity is a testament to its years of experience, innovative production methods and old-fashioned networking. U.S. Dinnerware, a fixture of Claiborne County since 1959 under various owners and names, specializes in high-temperature polyester and melamine institutional food service dinnerware sold under the brand Prolon. The firm's products have been especially popular in recent years with American military institutions like West Point Academy. "U.S. Dinnerware is one of the last manufacturers to make institutional plates in the United States," said Bubba Weir, vice president for existing business and resources development for Innovate Mississippi. Weir served as a matchmaker between owner Steve Gluck and Edison Nation, the Charloe, North Carolina-based firm that had the idea for the Perfect Bacon Bowl. With Gluck 's experience making high-temperature plastics, he consulted with the group on microwavable materials and was instrumental in product testing for the samples that were used in the initial infomercial and marketing push. Soon aer the commercials hit the internet, Allstar Marketing came onboard to bring the product to market in the same way they turned the Snuggie into a success – and they didn't waste any time. "It was late August, and suddenly there was a huge rush and they wanted it immediately," said Gluck. "I went to the tooling vendor in China and did the first test shots of the mold. There was this huge pressure to get the infrastructure in place, so when I got back we had to buy post-bake ovens, packaging and support equipment. We were producing them as soon as we got set up." His team's hard work paid off, earning U.S. Dinnerware the contract as the primary vendor for the Perfect Bacon Bowl. The orders came fast, and the rush meant a boon for Port Gibson and Claiborne County right around the Christmas season.

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