From sewing machines to bikes, Huffy has adapted to changing times

Published: Thursday, October 19, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

            Huffy CEO Bill Smith addresses a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce event about the company’s evolution over the past 125 years. KAITLIN SCHROEDER/STAFF
Huffy CEO Bill Smith addresses a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce event about the company’s evolution over the past 125 years. KAITLIN SCHROEDER/STAFF

Huffy Corp.’s CEO says the company’s success has been its ability to adapt, evolving from a sewing machine company to a modern bike brand changing to fit an e-commerce world.

Bill Smith, the chief executive of the locally-based bike brand, said only an estimated 15 percent of companies in 2020 will have been in business for 50 years or more, which makes Huffy on pace to be a rarity.

“At 125 years, we’re in the 1 percent league,” Smith said.

The company had its start as Davis Sewing Machine Company but started moving into making bicycles and by 1905 the company was producing 600 bikes per day making it the largest bike maker at that time. For comparison, Smith said in August as Huffy prepared for busy season, it produced 25,000 bikes a day at its factories in Asia.

The company adapted over the years to making what was needed and shedding off those divisions as the market changed. When the automotive sector was getting its start, the company was moving into making oil cans and gas dispensers and has a brass fitting factory on Wyandot Street, which today is the home of Warped Wing Brewing Co.

During World War I and World War II, the company pitched in for the war effort with bicycles and then brass bomb shell casings.

In the 1950s, Huffy made millions in lawnmowers and was one of the first to market in electric lawnmowers, though instead of with a battery, the mowers needed plugged in to an outlet.

“Occasionally we still get calls on our 800 number for lawnmower parts,” Smith said.

Huffy made the first transistor radio bike, though not many have survived and the ones left on Ebay sell for thousands of dollars.

The 1980s was a period of diversification, Smith said, when Huffy shed the lawnmower business, bought a lawn and garden company, a baby products company and an assembly business that made a range of products from bikes to Christmas trees.

In the 1980s, Huffy built bikes that were used by Olympians who won five medals. Those bikes were developed and built in Dayton.

Smith said in 2000, as scooters became a fad, the company produced 2 million of the folding scooters.

“That was a banner year for the company. These things had a wholesale price of $60 a piece so you can do the math on that one. That was an exciting year,” he said.

And now the company is evolving to stay ahead in an e-commerce world, whether that’s starting to sell on Ebay or launching a self-assemble bike that can be ordered online.

Smith said it doesn’t mean the company is less focused on bricks-and-mortar retail, it just means the company is expanding so its selling bikes all the ways people want to buy bikes.

Huffy just opened a store on Ebay last week. Smith said they are also looking at ways to work with mom-and-pop bike dealers, which have the potential to become service shops and distribution centers for all of its e-commerce business.

Next year, Huffy plans to launch an easy-to-assemble bike line that requires no tools for the consumer to put it together. The self-assembly is good for stores but even better for selling online.

The Centerville-based company, which will soon move to Miami Twp. near the Dayton Mall, just launched an e-commerce initiative so it can become a bicycle supplier in China, where most of its products are manufactured.

“So we will use e-commerce as a new marketing vehicle to enter markets where we didn’t have a presence,” Smith said.

J. Crew apologizes after photo of black model with messy hair sparks controversy

Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017 @ 1:13 AM

J. Crew Criticized For Photo Of Model With Unkempt Hair

J. Crew is facing criticism after a photo of one of its models and her seemingly unkempt hair surfaced online.

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The black woman, dressed in a Madewell dress, was photographed with her natural hair messily pulled back in a ponytail. But everyone wasn’t impressed with the look.

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One Twitter user took to the platform to express her disapproval. She uploaded the picture of the model with the caption, “J. Crew..... girl.... y’all wrong.”

Many seemed to agree with her sentiment, because the post soon went viral, racking up more than 11,000 retweets and 20,000 likes. 

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Several chimed in, accusing the fashion brand of prepping the model for the shoot without using the proper practices needed to style African-American hair. 

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Others, including the model, Marihenny Pasible, thought the look was in line with J. Crew’s relaxed and natural campaign.

Some challenged the critics, asking them to embrace the care-free look for all cultures.

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After the barrage of comments, J. Crew released a statement on Twitter.

“J.Crew strives to represent every race, gender, and background. We sincerely apologize for the styling of this model and the offense that was caused,” the company wrote. 

Spirit Airlines turns to Disney to improve its customer service

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 3:02 PM

A fight broke out at a Florida airport after Spirit Airlines canceled nine flights and stranded hundreds of passengers.

Spirit Airlines, the low-cost carrier from Florida, has reported some of the biggest profit margins of any airline in the country because of its practice of charging passengers fees for a long list of basic services.

But the airline also has had the highest rate of complaints by passengers for problems such as canceled flights, delayed departures and poor customer service.

The airline acknowledges that it needs to address its damaged reputation and has turned to a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co. for help.

In a message to employees, Spirit Airlines President and CEO Bob Fornaro said the airline has partnered with the Disney Institute to “create a common purpose and a fresh set of service standards.”

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The Disney Institute is a Florida-based company that offers business courses to improve leadership, employee culture and customer service. On the institute’s website, the company cites its work with Haagen-Dazs International, the National Football League, Volvo and the Orlando Magic basketball team.

Fornaro said the airline’s flight crews have been through training with the Disney Institute, and the carrier plans to do the same with its airport staff.

In his note to employees, Fornaro said guest satisfaction scores at the airline already have “reached an all-time record high.”

But the most recent data from the Department of Transportation shows that Spirit in September continued to receive the highest rate of customer complaints — 6.41 for every 100,000 passengers — more than twice the rate of any other carrier.

Neither Spirit nor the Disney Institute responded to requests for comment.

4 warranties you should always buy

Published: Monday, November 06, 2017 @ 5:36 AM

From cars and houses to iPads and phones, no one wants to pay to replace a high-end purchase. But that doesn't necessarily mean you should pay for an extended warranty, either.

"From a purely economic standpoint, it usually doesn't make sense to buy an extended warranty," according to Rajiv Sinha, a marketing professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Consumer Reports goes so far as to call most extended warranties "money down the drain," noting that "retailers may push hard to get you to buy these plans because they're cash cows for them. Stores keep 50 percent or more of what they charge for these contracts. That's much more than they can make selling products."

Still, there are four extended warranties you should always buy, or at the very least seriously consider:

Protection for previously owned products

Used cars in particular often warrant the price of an extended warranty, Sinha said. Owners usually hang on to well-maintained, problem-free cars, while the substandard, poorly maintained cars make it to used car lots and online sellers. The odds of defects and damage in the pool of used cars makes buying an extended warranty a smart financial move.

A home warranty for This Old House

Even older homes that have been lovingly cared for can benefit from a home warranty, Sinha said. This is especially true if the appliances included in the sale are dated.

Extra coverage for items added to a home

After noting precisely what a home warranty covers and what conditions you are accountable for, it usually makes sense to buy a warranty for items you add to a home, including windows, fireplaces and shutters. U.S. News cites the example of Margaret King, who bought a lifetime warranty from Home Depot for all 26 windows of her Philadelphia town house. The warranty cost was added to the initial purchase, increasing the price by nearly 20 percent, but she's already replaced windows six times, avoiding $500 in out-of-pocket expenses. "It's quite refreshing to pick up the phone, not your checkbook, to correct any problems – from stains to breakage to track issues," King told the magazine.

When you need the peace of mind

If you're the type who experiences excessive stress and sleeplessness worrying about a smartphone emergency or laptop catastrophe, the $100 or so for an extended warranty is probably "money well spent," according to U.S. News.
Still, there's no need to cave to pressure at the checkout counter. For example, you can usually wait until just before your new car warranty expires to buy the extended version. According to U.S. News, ProtectCELL, which sells protection plans for tablets and phones, also allows some wiggle room, letting customers buy a warranty 30 days to 12 months after purchasing a device, depending on the product.


Travel tips: 10 worst airports to fly through for Thanksgiving travel

Published: Monday, November 20, 2017 @ 11:37 AM


With holiday travel right around the corner, travelers should prepare themselves for hectic airports and crammed planes.

The Thanksgiving travel period is the busiest travel time of the year. Check out a few tips for a smooth flying experience, according to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport:

1. For protection against lost luggage, label your bags inside and out with your contact information. Be sure to include the address and phone number of your destination.

2. Do not wrap gifts that you plan to carry onboard. If a security officer needs to inspect a package they may have to unwrap your gift.

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3. Familiarize yourself with TSA (Transportation Security Administration) procedures at to ensure what you pack in your carry-on is compliant with TSA standards. Weapons may not be carried aboard aircraft. This includes replicas, toy weapons and anything that can be mistaken for a weapon.

4. Passengers should arrive to the airport two hours before their flight to ensure adequate time to park, check baggage, go through security and make it to your gate in time for boarding.

5. When using general screening, be prepared to remove blazers, coats and bulky sweaters and activate any electronic or battery-powered equipment as part of the security inspection. This includes laptops, music players, games and phones.

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