Necessity, it’s said, is the mother of invention — but so is opportunity and the savvy to recognize it.
Take Core Covers for example. Founded in 2012 by CEO and industry veteran Jerry Greer, the company is headquartered in Henderson, Nevada, with two state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Mexico and a smaller one in Pennsylvania. According to Greer, “a significant majority of our business is providing spa covers to OEMs [original equipment manufacturers] for their products.”
Significant, yes: Core is now the largest spa cover manufacturer in the world.
Along the way, Greer identified a need in the industry that would help grow his company but also provide a better user experience for OEMs, dealers, installers and consumers — aka an opportunity.
He believed spa accessories, like lifts and steps, were generally aftermarket purchases that could be packaged with the OEM rather than sold separately. Thus, Core developed a new line of products to fill the void.
What differentiates Core… is that we’re developing products in conjunction with our OEM partners to give them branded, unique, proprietary lifts and steps that they distribute through their dealer network.”Jerry Greer, Core Covers
“What differentiates Core versus the other aftermarket players is that we’re developing products in conjunction with our OEM partners — our clients — to give them branded, unique, proprietary lifts and steps that they distribute through their dealer network,” Greer says. “While the other people who are in the space are creating products that they sell directly to the dealers, we’re codeveloping products with our OEM clients for their own distribution.”
To use another industry comparison, he says, it’s as if they’re working directly with Toyota to develop Toyota-specific products for their cars rather than aftermarket products that companies sell to dealers or consumers.
In their case, Greer says, “It allows customization [and] products that are OEM-vetted and tuned to work better and more efficiently, more holistic with the product. So, for example, we have a new line of lifts and covers where the lifts are integrated into the cover, so that they’re not two independent items working together. They’re holistically designed so that they function to work better, they’re easier [and] they give the OEM a proprietary type of product where that replacement cycle is dictated to come back to them.”
Jim Donahue, vice president of sales for Core, says “The [early] question was: ‘Can we make accessories? Can we make them better? Can we be innovative — not just make a mouse trap but a better mouse trap?’ ”
The answer was yes, they could, but not quickly.
Development of these products and their technology took several years, some even longer. According to Robbie Reenan, product manager of accessories and sourcing for Core, they had to know not only that the fit was right for each brand but also the aesthetics. He adds, “Integrating the lifter into the cover created just a better aesthetic, and it doesn’t look like an afterthought. We wanted to make it look like a cohesive unit for these OEMs.”
The same approach applied to steps, Reenan says. These are color matched and coordinated to the cabinetry; there’s also a modular program that allows steps to change widths and heights, he adds. “We’re trying to have all the accessories coordinate seamlessly as well as aesthetically with the OEM’s design.”
Along with the challenge of making the lifts less time-consuming and easier to install was another common problem: shipping. But Core offers a solution for that too. “It’s client-determined,” Greer says. “But they can place a step and a lift inside the hot tub so that they ship with the hot tub. Essentially, they ship for free.” It’s an opportunity successful OEMs have already taken advantage of, he says.
While these new products haven’t created the need to retool his large manufacturing facilities in Mexico — which employ 800 skilled workers, Greer says — Core has added departments, resources and equipment that they haven’t historically needed. However, he notes, most of the products share synergies. “There’s a synergistic platform they all sit on that allows us to capitalize on scale,” Greer explains. “The chassis are similar, but the skins are different and particular features are different.”
What he is trying to do, Greer says, is “bring the level of development and refinement that you see in other industries [such as Apple and its iPad accessories] to our business.” The OEM market’s early adaptation speaks to Core’s success.