Case | HBS Case Collection | January 1997 (Revised December 1999)

OXO International

by H. Kent Bowen, Marilyn Matis and Sylvie Ryckebusch

Abstract

OXO, a kitchen tools and gadgets company, was started by a businessman who had 30 years of experience in the housewares industry. With his wife and son as founders, he creates a new niche in the gadgets industry for high-end gourmet stores. The company has headquarters in New York City, but it outsources product design to a NYC industrial design firm, manufacturing to Asia, and warehousing to a site in Connecticut in order to manage start-up costs and growth. Because of the veteran businessman's reputation and industry sense, the company grows quickly and in 1992 is sold for $6.2 million to a large housewares distributor, General Housewares. The original owners stay on as consultants to the parent company and decide to turn over management of the company to a Harvard MBA who also has extensive industrial design experience. Innovative product design is the key to OXO's success, and the company has worked exclusively with one design firm based on royalties of sold products. The new managing director initiates new product category programs for the bathroom, the garden, and home baking. He must coordinate the outsourcing of the design and development function.

Keywords: Entrepreneurship; Supply Chain Management; Production; Design; Ownership; Business Startups; Acquisition; Consumer Products Industry; Asia; New York (city, NY); Connecticut;

Citation:

Bowen, H. Kent, Marilyn Matis, and Sylvie Ryckebusch. "OXO International." Harvard Business School Case 697-007, January 1997. (Revised December 1999.)