Home Back Issues April 2012 Only whisk factory in U.S.

Only whisk factory in U.S.

| Print |  Email
Articles - April 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012

BY LINDA BAKER

0412_GamePlan_BestManufacturers_02
Above: President John Merrifield wields a 3-foot whisk.
Below: Merrifield and his son, Kyle, at the Best Manufacturers whisk factory in Portland.
// Photos by Alexandra Shyshkina
0412_GamePlan_BestManufacturers_03

Even in food savvy Portland, few residents know their city is home to the only whisk factory in the United States: Best Manufacturers. In 1950, there were four domestic whisk manufacturers, says Best president John Merrifield, a second-generation owner whose family bought the company in 1959. While the competition eventually decamped to China, Merrifield stuck around and now sells about 200,000 whisks a year, available in 50 shapes and sizes, including the monumental 3-foot variety, which buyers snap up to the tune of 1,000 a month.

Specialization is the key to Best’s longevity, Merrifield says. “Had we decided to make garlic presses and cheese graters, we probably would have had to leave.” Other cost-saving strategies include implementing lean manufacturing — “We don’t make anything that isn’t sold” — and streamlining assembly operations. For example, the company recently adopted a new method of attaching the whisk heads to handles that eliminates washers and other “non-value added” components.

Best, which grossed $2 million last year, sells primarily to restaurant suppliers and houseware retailers. Going forward, Merrifield aims to focus more on brand recognition and marketing, an effort that will undoubtedly tout the company’s 15,000-square-foot Northeast Portland factory and the 14 workers it employs. One of those employees is 26-year-old Kyle Merrifield, a classical clarinet player and Best’s next heir apparent. “There’s a politics to making things in America, and my son has it,” says Merrifield. “There’s some pride in not running to China.”

Of course, the location of the company and the quality of workmanship are not the only things Merrifield, an avid cook, is proud of. “The whisk,” he says, quoting from a Crate & Barrel catalog, “is the second most essential item in the kitchen.”

 

More Articles

Podcast: Interview with Steve Balzac

Contributed Blogs
Tuesday, August 19, 2014

082014BalzacBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

Tom Cox interviews Steve Balzac, author of "Organizational Psychology for Managers."


Read more...

Community colleges and sustainability

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 31, 2014
sustainabilityBY MARY SPILDE | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

Faced with the aftermath of the “great recession,” increasing concern about the environment and dwindling family wage jobs, we have some very important choices to make about our future.


Read more...

Risks & rewards of owning triple net investments

Contributed Blogs
Thursday, July 24, 2014
NNNinvestmentBY CLIFF HOCKLEY | OB GUEST CONTRIBUTOR

With the increasing retirements of Baby Boomers, a massive real estate shift has created a significant increase in demand for NNN properties. The result? Increased demand has triggered higher prices and lower yields.


Read more...

Poll Wrap-Up

News
Friday, August 15, 2014

2014 NewPoll-report-newsletterthumbIn this week's poll, we asked readers: "Who should pay for the troubled Cover Oregon website?" Here are the results.


Read more...

Launch

September 2014
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
BY JESSICA RIDGWAY

September's Launch article features Orchid Health, BuddyUp and Inter-Europe Consulting.


Read more...

South Waterfront's revenge

News
Thursday, July 24, 2014
MoodyAveBY LINDA BAKER | OB EDITOR

Remember the naysayers?  Those who called the South Waterfront aerial tram a boondoggle?  Those who rejoiced at the massive sell off of luxury condos at the John Ross and Atwater Place?


Read more...

Molecular Movies

September 2014
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
BY LINDA BAKER

Dr. Chong Fang isn’t God. But the assistant professor of chemistry at Oregon State University is getting closer to figuring out how he put everything together. 


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS