Have you ever looked closely at the label of a product when you're shopping? Most of us assume the products we purchase at major retailers are made in some far off place and in today's economy that is most often the case. But you might be surprised to learn that something you picked up at your favorite home improvement store was made right here in Abilene.
This spring, as many people prepare for the summer time heat, they'll be installing window A/C units. Nation Wide Products here in Abilene is behind the AC-Safe products you'll see in the mass retail market. Most notably are the universal A/C support brackets used to make air conditioner installation safer.
The brackets use a patented design that reinforces the back-end of the A/C unit which typically hangs outside of the window. The product is particularly popular in multi-story apartment buildings where central air condition is not available. In many locations, such as New York, the city imposes regulations that require such extrusions from windows on multi-story buildings to be secured in order to prevent injury or death of sidewalk pedestrians. This A/C support bracket does just that for residents and is a very popular item in these areas.
Owner Bud Darby and his son Jason run the company and have been proactive about supporting Abilene businesses. The hardware mounting kits included with each A/C bracket are assembled from hardware purchased from Abilene suppliers, a decision that saves the company 5 cents per kit and lets him put more people to work in Abilene. Likewise, Darby also chose to hire a local printer for the assembly instructions included with each kit, of which some quarter million are printed each year.
This winter, you may find yourself preparing for freezing temperatures by purchasing a foam cover for your outdoor water faucet. You guessed it, Nation Wide Products makes those handy little things as well. As a compliment to their summer products, the company has this special winter product aimed at keeping your outdoor water lines breaking.
The company actually manufacturers the faucet covers for a number of private labels. If you were to inspect the label of those you purchase this year, you'll see a wide range of names. As a result, one would think these products come from somewhere else, but in fact they are made right here in Abilene, Texas.
If you've used these covers for several years, you might remember the old J-hook design that were difficult to install. Darby pioneered a new design with an adjustable zip tie style nut. Once attached to a faucet, users pull the spring loaded nut tightly against the styrofoam to create a tight seal for a quick and easy install. What used to take at least 5 minutes to attach, now takes 10 seconds, making the product much more user friendly.
The company represents a significant economic impact to the Abilene economy. It is estimated that the company generates $10.1 million in direct economic output each year. Spin-off, or indirect, businesses in the community will produce an additional $5.1 million, for a total of $15.2 million in economic output per year, making them a very important part of Abilene's business community.