Walmart launches eco-friendly car seat/stroller made in U.S.

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 373 views 

Walmart said Tuesday (May 1) it worked with Dorel Juvenile, a segment of Canadian-based Dorel Industries, to launch the first car seat and stroller made in the U.S. from recycled materials. The Safety 1st RIVA Travel System launched exclusively at select Walmart stores and on Walmart.com this month.

“Our customers have told us that second to price, where products are made influences their purchase decisions,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. manufacturing. “We are proud to offer parents a high-quality, eco-friendly stroller that creates jobs in communities across the United States. The RIVA Travel System makes sense for our customers, our communities and our company.”

Walmart said the product was inspired by parent feedback and a mission to better serve the youngest of users. Safety 1st spent years perfecting a stroller design concept that reduces landfill waste and allows families to feel good about what they buy without paying more. The RIVA Travel System is manufactured and assembled with American and imported parts, and is stored at the company’s zero-landfill factory in Columbus, Ind., which has been manufacturing car seats since 1978.

“Made in the U.S.A. is a simple phrase that means a lot,” said Paul Powers, CEO and president at Dorel Juvenile USA. “As a leader in the car seat and stroller industry, it is very important for us to not only deliver on thoughtful, quality-made products that are still affordable, but to also bring manufacturing back to America. With Walmart as a launch retailer for RIVA, we can fulfill our commitment to supporting American workers and also get a better stroller to parents faster, from our family to yours.”

The stroller frame was engineered to be lightweight at only 18 pounds. The fabric easily detaches from the unit for machine washing. Walmart said the frame can withstand high impacts, and was tested rigorously to ensure sturdiness and reliability. The car-seat portion of the unit was designed with side-impact protections for children weighing between 4 and 35 pounds.

Dorel said the Safety 1st brand has been around for 30 years but in an effort to become more sustainable decided to invest in its Columbus, Ind., facility for the new product line to build the travel system in the United States and create more American manufacturing jobs. Two manufacturing lines were added to the plant after Dorel Juvenile inked a deal with Walmart for 1.4 million car seats to be made in the U.S., reshoring some production from China.

The Dorel deal is part of Walmart’s 10-year commitment to source an addition $250 billion in goods made in the U.S. Powers said the company’s factory in China primarily makes strollers, but some of the production has come back and will remain permanent in the U.S. as the company continues to explore more business opportunities.

The new lines support 60 additional jobs in Columbus, giving the company a headcount of 720 in that facility. The average starting pay was $15 an hour for the new jobs created over the past year. Other brands now also made at the plant include:

  • Grow and Go Convertible Car Seats
  • Easy Elite Car Seats
  • Store n’ Go Backed Boosters
  • Rise No Back Boosters
  • Disney Walkers

Dorel makes other brands for retailers such as Amazon, Buy Buy Baby Inc., Nordstrom and Target. The manufacturer said it makes over three million car seats a year ranging from infant to convertible, with prices scaling from $45 to $500. Dorel said it has been making car seats for Walmart with some exclusivity for 40 years, starting with the Scenera brand.

Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer at Walmart U.S., has said investment commitment from Walmart is what some suppliers need to have the confidence to make the necessary investments to onshore production. He said because there are substantial investments involved, Walmart’s commitment is also longer term.

Reshoring Initiative recently reported 171,000 U.S. jobs along with foreign direct investments came back to the U.S. in 2017, up 2800% since 2010. Harry Moser, founder and president of Reshoring Initiative, said his organization publishes the data to show companies that their peers are successfully reshoring. He applauds Walmart for the 10-year commitment to this endeavor saying it has been one of the catalysts behind the growing numbers.

Moser said the 171,000 reshoring and foreign direct investment job announcements equal 90% of the 189,000 total manufacturing jobs added last year. In 2017, combined reshoring and foreign direct investment jobs rose 122% over 2016. Like Dorel, the majority of jobs reshored (62%) have come from China, followed by Mexico (19%) and Japan (8%).

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