Serving our community
Thanks to this problem and this forthcoming solution, thousands of new readers have found our blog in the past few weeks. So, what many of you know of Sterling International/RESCUE! is that we are innovators in the insect trap category.
But there's another side to our business which is just as important: caring for others and serving our community. Since 2002, we have sent a group every month to serve lunch at Spokane's Union Gospel Mission.
Although we have many times -- for instance, right now -- when we're firing on all cylinders at the office and working hard to meet demand for our products, we've always taken the time to honor this commitment to the Mission.
Today was no different. We knew that with temperatures in the single digits, the lunch crowd would be numerous. So Marc in Engineering, Paul in Operations, Stephanie (me!) in Marketing, our President Rod, and Diedra in Accounting/Customer Service headed downtown to serve fajitas and other fare to the lunch crowd.
It's a bug-eat-bug world in our new interactive game
We've been quiet lately, but it's not for lack of something exciting to share with you.
We have a new product... and it's a departure from our insect traps and attractants. It's a way you can play with bugs and get your hands dirty -- virtually speaking -- no matter what season it is or what the weather is like outside.
At RESCUE!, we know that not all bugs are "icky", or pestiferous, or dangerous. Some insects can actually be our allies. This is one of the inherent messages of BugfarmTM, our new interactive DVD-ROM game for ages 7+. It's designed to be a true-to-life simulation of both real vegetable gardening and the use of beneficial insects.
BugfarmTM teaches children about science and nature in a format that sustains their attention. The game is a great introduction to entomology, and our hope is that it could also spark interest in growing a real vegetable garden.
In the game, players are able to:
- Choose vegetable crops to plant in their virtual garden
- Raise their own army of beneficial Spined Soldier Bugs in a virtual bug farm
- Deploy Soldier Bugs to protect their garden
- Play the role of a Soldier Bug in a 3D garden environment and hunt down pests
- Maintain their plants with nutrients, water and fertilizer to help them grow
- Learn about the effects of both pest damage and pesticide use on plants
- Earn blue ribbons for their prizewinning vegetables
Experiments and informative videos are included on the DVD to round out the educational experience.
BugfarmTM features groundbreaking graphics and animation. You can see each vein on a tomato plant leaf, each stripe on a cabbage looper, and each eye on a potato. The bugs can walk on the underside of a leaf, just like they do in real life. You can watch a demo here on our website.
BugfarmTM is available online from us for only $24.95, and provides many opportunities for different levels of games and different players. In fact, a single copy of BugfarmTM allows an entire classroom of students to each play their own game and compete against each other.
You can go to www.bugfarm.com to learn more about this new educational game. Hmmm... Christmas is coming... perhaps a child you know would like to receive this as a gift? (Hint! Hint!)
A note of thanks
The hectic Fall trade show season is over for the RESCUE! team, so now we're back to blogging. Our Customer Service Department shared the following note with me from a customer who had tried our Yellowjacket Trap without any luck this summer. After some probing, our rep determined that the customer had a paper wasp problem -- not a yellowjacket problem -- and therefore needed our W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets instead. So we sent him one! Here's his response, in a letter to us:
Thank you for helping us determine the proper trap for our paper wasps here in Richland. We had originally purchased a trap that was only effective for yellowjackets, and we were very annoyed that we didn't catch a single insect in the first month.
After we received the W*H*Y Trap in July, we began to catch the paper wasps, and over the summer and fall we caught about two dozen wasps. We are impressed by your knowledge of insect behavior and how to attract them.
... Another important feature of your traps is that they are made in the U.S. Please don't ever consider getting them made by foreign labor.
Thanks again for standing behind your products, even when the consumer buys the wrong product; that is excellent service. We will certainly recommend your products.
Marc & Janet/Richland, WA
Video of the Week: How to treat a wasp/hornet/yellowjacket sting
I'll be heading out with the rest of our office to our annual Company Picnic in about half an hour. Thankfully, this has always been a sting-free event, thanks to our R&D folks who hang copious amounts of our RESCUE! Yellowjacket Traps -- and now our W*H*Y Trap -- all around the Liberty Lake County Park and the pavillion where we enjoy the potluck meal.
But even with traps in use, there is still a danger of getting stung, and that's why it's good to know the tips contained in this video where a Registered Nurse explains what to do if that happens:
Video: Mobile home for wasps
So last week, our Marketing Assistant Jonathan noticed a paper wasp buzzing around our Customer Service Rep Susan's car, then going in the crevice of the passenger-side door. Turns out there was an small egg-shaped paper wasp nest in the door that was only visible when opening it. Upon checking out this nest, we found a second one in the car -- behind the rear-view mirror!
In this video, I attempt to show both nests in the car. Adding to the excitement, I get buzzed by a paper wasp about 50 seconds in... she wasn't too happy that I was poking around her house.
Shortly thereafter, our R&D scientists evicted these wasps from their "mobile home".
We're Emmy Award winners!
That's right, we're Emmy winners... for our TV spot entitled "Break Room", which advertises the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets. Jones Advertising, the agency behind this funny spot, picked up the award last Saturday night in the Commercial, Single Spot category.
David Edgerton, Jones Advertising Vice President, accepted the award at the 46th Annual Northwest Emmy Awards ceremony:
And here's the award-winning spot:
W*H*Y campaign sparks award-winning work
Last Thursday was a good night for our Marketing Department. We won six Spark Awards from the Spokane MarCom Association for various elements of our campaign to launch the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets.
Entries for the Spark Awards are judged heavily on the results achieved by a marketing project or campaign. With the W*H*Y Trap accepted into nearly every lawn & garden retailer for this year, we had some great results of which we could boast.
Here are (L-R) Marketing Coordinator Alyssa Ando, yours truly, and Sales & Marketing Assistant Jonathan Manfredonia with our haul:
And here's a list of what we won:
Merit Award for our "Break Room" :30 TV spot
Excellence Award for our "Rumble" :30 TV spot
Excellence Award for our W*H*Y Trap package design
Excellence Award for the BugBlog in the "Writing/Recurring Columns" category
Excellence Award for the BugBlog in the "Electronic & Interactive Communications" category
Merit Award for the W*H*Y is the Answer campaign in the "Marketing Communications Campaign" category.
Unveiling the Trail
Gorgeous Northwest spring weather greeted a group of Sterling employees last Saturday as we took part in the annual "Unveil the Trail" day to clean the Centennial Trail, a paved walking/running/biking path that follows the contours of the Spokane River.
Our company has adopted mile 28-29, which runs northwest of the city of Spokane.
The fact that there was very little trash to pick up is a testament to how much residents value their Trail. And it was quite active that morning with walkers and runners training for the upcoming Bloomsday Run on Sunday, May 3.
Here's the group of employees, spouses and kids who participated:
Our Marketing Coordinator, Alyssa Ando, with the mile marker:
Here's a shot of the view along our mile:
Our R&D Department was well represented:
And our President Rod Schneidmiller and his wife led the effort:
Talkin' about Twitter
Local web developer and social media strategist Mark Simonds is embarking on a "Twitter Road Trip" to interview individuals and organizations using Twitter effectively. We were honored to be Mark's first interview for this project.
Mark's Twitter handle is @simonds, Twitter Road Trip's handle is @route140, and ours is @rescue. Please follow us!
The company that serves together
Last Friday, a group of eight employees headed down to Spokane's Union Gospel Mission to serve lunch to the homeless. We've done this once a month for the past seven years as part of a "Community Care" initiative launched by our president, Rod Schneidmiller, and his wife, Gigi.
Below, L-R are Susan Chaney (Customer Service), Jessica Otterson (Accounting), me, Alyssa Ando (Marketing), Rod Schneidmiller (President), Doreen Hoover (R&D), Ann Bearden (Customer Service) and Paul Crooks (Engineering).
Rod and Paul serve up the hot food at the start of the line:
Doreen had the salad bar covered:
Alyssa, Jessica, Susan and I (not pictured) served pasta salad, pudding, applesauce and desserts:
And Ann handled the condiments and beverages:
Heading to Houston!
Boys love bugs
Two days ago, we hosted a local Boy Scout troop at our offices. To receive their science badges, they had to visit a lab and meet a scientist. Our R&D Department was more than happy to oblige with a tour through our insect research lab.
R&D Director Dr. Qing-He Zhang talks about how we re-create scents to which the insects are attracted:
The kids take turns looking through the microscope at an insect antenna hooked up to our Electro-Antenna Detector (EAD), which measures the antenna's response to different scents.
Research Scientist Doreen Hoover shows the boys some Spined Soldier Bugs in a petri dish:
The Scouts pose for a photo with their new scientist friends:
We have an appreciation for science here at Sterling, and Dr. Zhang feels there are too few scientists in the world today. I hope this visit stoked the boys' interest in biology, chemistry and entomology -- they certainly liked the bugs!
W*H*Y: The Buzz is getting out!
Here's an excerpt:
"Snow on the ground means nothing at Sterling International, the Spokane Valley company that’s buzzing around the clock making traps targeting the stinging bugs of spring and summer.
Sterling, which has been in business more than 25 years, has just released a product six years in the making, a three-in-one plastic trap it calls the WHY.
As in wasps, hornets and yellowjackets."
Click here to read the full article.
We're going to Houston!
I'm excited to go to Houston next month to represent RESCUE! at the "Mom 2.0 Summit: An Open Conversation Between Moms and Marketers". We want moms to know about our environmentally responsible products to keep their families safe from pest insects like wasps, hornets and yellowjackets.
If anyone reading this is attending the Summit, let us know! I'd love to meet you.
All hands on deck
One phrase you'll never hear at Sterling International: "That's not my job." No one here is above doing any task, because we're all invested in the success of our company.
Today was a perfect example. In order to produce enough W*H*Y Traps to meet a truckload shipment to Wal-Mart, everyone from the office -- the President, his wife, the Vice Presidents, our General Counsel, Marketing, Customer Service and R&D -- worked the assembly line today. Our blistering pace produced 6 pallets' worth (3,360 traps) in four hours.
Below L-R: General Counsel Bob Loomis, VP of Sales Jim Oxley, Gigi Schneidmiller and President Rod Schneidmiller set the pace at the beginning of the line.
Below: Personnel from Marketing, Customer Service, R&D and Operations load attractant into the traps, attach lids, and enclose the traps in the cardboard packaging before they're boxed up.
This isn't the first time we've been "all hands on deck". It's happened various times in our 27-year history.
One of the examples our President likes to cite took place in the late 1980s. He explains: "Sterling got a call from L&L Nursery Supply, a major distributor of our products. They had a regional account out of Portland, OR called Bi-Mart that was carrying another brand of yellowjacket trap, but that manufacturer was done shipping product for the year.
"It was early afternoon on a Thursday. We were told that if we could get yellowjacket traps to them by Friday, they would buy our product. However, we didn't have the product made up, and the day's deadline for shipping had passed. We pledged to do what we could.
"We had the office staff and everyone else out there assembling traps, and we held off the truck until 7 p.m. I personally loaded up the trailer. Thankfully, Spokane to Portland was one day service, so L&L was able to get product into the Bi-Mart stores on Friday.
"And Bi-Mart has been a customer of ours ever since."
First W*H*Y Traps shipped today!
Perhaps you noticed that I goofed and posted the W*H*Y Wednesday post on Tuesday. But I was just too excited, because our first W*H*Y Trap shipment went out today!
These traps -- all 3200 of them -- are destined for Wal-Mart stores in Florida. Ironically, the Yellow Freight truck was running late after being stuck in the snow. But at 4 p.m., we loaded 6 pallets onto the truck and sent it on its way to warmer climes.
Here's a photo of (L-R) yours truly, Paul Crooks (Industrial Engineer) and Alyssa Ando (Marketing Coordinator) in front of the shipment:
And here are some scenes from earlier today as the assembly line rolled out the W*H*Y Traps:
If you're in Florida, these will be coming to a store near you... and many more will be shipped out to other states next week!
Sterling donates gifts to Air Force families
Here's a press release about our annual donation to Fairchild Air Force Base:
Local Manufacturer Donates Gifts to Air Force Families
Spokane, WA, December 16, 2008 - Sterling International, Inc., local manufacturer of RESCUE!® Pest Control Products, donated toys and food vouchers to Fairchild Air Force Base families to honor the men and women serving overseas.
Armed with Santa hats and a sleigh-full of holiday spirit, Sterling employees marched 100 new toys and $1250 in gift vouchers to Fairchild Air Force Base. The donations helped more than 24 young airmen's families to celebrate this Christmas.
"When we called to have families come get the gifts and food coupons, most cried with joy," said Pam Martin, Family Services Coordinator at Fairchild AFB. This holiday season marks Sterling's fifth consecutive year of donations to the base.
Leading the group of holiday helpers was Sterling founder and President Rod Schneidmiller. "It's an honor and a privilege to give back to the community where we work and play," he said. "It's the right thing to do."
"Sterling has touched so many military families over the years," said Martin. "I can't express how I feel, and the feeling of the folks receiving the gifts."
Since 1982, Sterling International, Inc. has created insect traps and attractants as an alternative to sprays. Based in Spokane, Washington, the company sells its RESCUE!®Traps for flies, wasps, hornets, yellowjackets, Japanese beetles and Oriental beetles through home improvement centers, hardware stores and lawn & garden retailers throughout the U.S. and beyond.
L-R: Pam Martin, Family Services Coordinator at Fairchild AFB; Rod Schneidmiller, Sterling President; Jonathan Manfredonia, Sales & Marketing Assistant; Gerry Simpson, VP of Operations; and Jim Oxley, VP of Sales.
Sterling gets an early Christmas present
Hot off the presses -- or in this case, the injection molding machine -- we have our first complete, non-prototype, finished W*H*Y Trap!
President Rod Schneidmiller holds this early Christmas present by our company tree in the front lobby.
Here's a closer look:
I can't tell you how excited we are to have a finished product. These photos don't do it justice -- the parts have such a high-quality look and feel. Everyone in the office was positively giddy to see and hold the trap. Next week we hope to be running the parts, assembling the traps with their attractant and packaging, and shipping displays.
Follow RESCUE on Twitter. Why? Bee-cause!
RESCUE! Pest Control Products now has a presence on Twitter. You can find us there and follow our updates at WHYRESCUE. (RESCUE was already taken, and we have the WHY Trap coming, so that's why we chose that username!)
Parts is Parts
And parts are good, when we're talking about parts that make up our highly anticipated new product! We're getting close to having all the parts ready to assemble the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets. Our Engineering Department is tweaking things like the clarity of the tube, the finish of the top and bottom caps, and the fit of the assembled parts. It's all looking very good, and I should be able to post some photos of the parts in the next few days.
In the meantime, enjoy this blast-from-the-past commercial which talks about some less appealing parts...
Bugs beware! Sterling has chemistry with new scientist
As of last week, we have a new scientist in our insect research lab. Here's the press release:
SPOKANE, WA, November 17, 2008 -- Sterling International, manufacturer of RESCUE!® Pest Control Products, welcomed new scientist Dr. Guiji Zhou this week to the company's Research and Development Department, strengthening its world-class insect research lab.
Dr. Zhou brings expertise in analytical and organic chemistry, having previously worked at the Shanghai Institute of Organic Chemistry at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. With the addition of Dr. Zhou, Sterling employs eight scientists, including three Ph.D.s, who are experts in developing advanced pest control technology.
RESCUE!® products use scented attractants to lure pest insects into traps, where they die naturally without chemical killing agents. Dr. Zhou's responsibilities will include identifying and creating these attractants, and the technology that dispenses the scents.
The scientists at Sterling are constantly searching for new ways to efficiently and safely control pests. "Research and Development is a collaborative endeavor; the more great minds the better," said Rod Schneidmiller, founder and president of Sterling International.
Sterling's most recent R&D breakthrough is the new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets, which will be on retail shelves in 2009. The Research & Development Team is also working on a portable mosquito repellent device under a $730,000 grant from the United States Department of Defense.
According to Schneidmiller, the future of Sterling is innovation and "having a world-class Research and Development department just makes that future brighter."
Can't wait for ACE to discover WHY
We're excited to introduce the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets to Ace Hardware and their dealers this week in St. Louis. Ace was the first national account to recognize the potential of the W*H*Y Trap last spring, and their buyers added the product to their lawn & garden lineup without hesitation.
Stay tuned for blogging from the Ace show.
W*H*Y Trap gets its close-up
The new W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets makes its debut on retail shelves early next year, and we plan to support the launch with TV advertising. We have some great TV spots in the can already, but one crucial shot we were lacking was a good close-up of the W*H*Y Trap in action with live insects buzzing around inside.
Wasp, hornet and yellowjacket colonies reach their peak at the end of summer, as we've pointed out in previous postings. And so, hoping to get a good "body count" inside the trap, we waited out the summer and set aside time last week to get that crucial close-up shot with the help of North by Northwest Productions.
But some heavy wind forced us to move inside the garage to film it in front of an open window...
Not to worry -- here's how it looked on the screen... beautiful!
W*H*Y Trap elements coming together
As we near our Fall trade show season, the raw materials needed to start producing the W*H*Y Trap for Wasps, Hornets & Yellowjackets are coming together. In the past two weeks, we've received elements of the packaging for the W*H*Y Trap, which makes the Marketing team quite happy.
Here's the cardboard "wrap" which goes around the trap. Note the diagram showing all 20 species that the trap catches and their corresponding markings.
Here's the foil pouch which contains the W*H*Y attractant refills:
Here's the header card that goes on top of our floor display:
And here's the display box for our W*H*Y attractant:
I'm banking on all these elements grabbing the consumer's attention in a store environment and communicating the quality of the product. Our wonderful designers at Sigma get the credit for the striking graphics, and Spokane Packaging for the design of the cardboard wrap and displays.
Find RESCUE! on Facebook
Check out "RESCUE! -- Responsible Insect Control for Outdoor Living". We'd love it if you became a fan!
Our in-house "WHY-vangelists"
As the RESCUE! Sales & Marketing team was introducing the WHY Trap at the National Hardware Show last week, the folks back home at Sterling headquarters showed their solidarity with us by wearing their "I know WHY" t-shirts on the big launch day, May 6.
Here's our R&D team in the lab, celebrating the fruits of their years of labor on this product:
Here's the front office staff, minus those of us who were at the Hardware Show:
Vladimir, who helps operate our injection molding machine, proudly wore his shirt:
Our production team:
Our shipping team (Vladimir, Jeff and Angie):
And our Engineering team:
Everyone here is excited about this product and to spread the buzz about WHY!
Caring for the Community
In the midst of all the hubbub concerning our new product launch, I neglected to blog about two of our recent community activities and recognition.
First: Sterling International was honored last Friday, April 25 with an award from the Union Gospel Mission of Spokane, a ministry serving the homeless. We were given the "Group Service Award", and according to Executive Director Phil Altmeyer, we are the first non-religious organization to ever receive it.
For about seven years, a group of 4-5 Sterling employees -- often led by company President Rod Schneidmiller -- has been going to the Mission once a month during a work day to serve lunch to the homeless.
Rod has been encouraging Sterling employees to get involved at the Mission ever since he and his family helped serve Thanksgiving dinner there years ago.
Our plaque says: "In grateful appreciation for your faithful service on behalf of the homeless at the Union Gospel Mission."
Second: Life Services of Spokane held its annual Women of Compassion luncheon on April 17. For several years now, our company has been the lead underwriter of this event. In addition to the keynote address by Susan Meyer, the organization launched a new capital campaign called Beyond Choice.
Our banner and the sponsor banner were displayed in the Pennington Ballroom of the Davenport Hotel, where the event was held:
Our company Co-President Gigi Schneidmiller and Customer Service Manager Ann Bearden were part of our table of ten:
Helping Rescue the Centennial Trail
The Centennial Trail that links Spokane, Washington and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho isn't actually in need of rescue. It's a beautiful, well-paved, well-traveled nature trail -- 37 miles in length and following the Spokane River -- that walkers, runners and bikers enjoy. But every year it gets a sprucing up from us and all of the other companies and organizations that have adopted a mile of the trail.
This past Saturday, employees and family members helped "unveil the trail" for spring.
Here's our group at the start of the 9 a.m. cleanup:
Our VP of Operations and his family joined in the effort:
Our stretch of the Trail did not have too much in the way of litter, so our own General Counsel ventured off the beaten path to find some rusted buckets and other trash:
We're all looking forward to being able to enjoy the Trail this spring (whenever it arrives), summer and fall.
Yellowjackets at the water cooler
Yesterday's 72 degree high was about the only bright spot so far in what has been a dismal and disappointing first few weeks of spring in the Inland Northwest. After such a weekend, the Monday morning water-cooler chat at Sterling International usually centers around sightings of queens -- as in yellowjacket queens.
Sure enough, overheard in our office this morning:
Employee A: "Did you see any queens yesterday?"
Employee B: "I saw two."
Employee A: "Cool. I didn't see any yellowjackets, but I saw four paper wasps."
Yes, here at Sterling we talk in excited, breathless detail about bug sightings. Because bug sightings mean sales of yellowjacket traps. Sometimes, however, it just makes me chuckle to myself.
But I'm not the only one talking about yellowjacket sightings. Just south of Spokane, Michael at Palousitics also posted about the same thing, and advised his readers to set out traps early to catch the yellowjacket queens.
Wearin' of the (RESCUE!) green
As a marketer, I believe a signature color is a big part of a brand identity. IBM for years has been known as "Big Blue". UPS owns the color brown and is asking in their ads, "What can Brown do for you?". Orange can often make one think of Home Depot. McDonald's pairs red with the golden arches. The Susan G. Komen Foundation has made pink a huge part of the breast cancer awareness movement.
For our 25th anniversary, we worked with our longtime graphic design firm, Sigma, to update the RESCUE! logo. With their help, we adopted a bright shade of green as our signature color. The choice was a natural one, as our flagship product -- the RESCUE! Yellowjacket Trap -- is known for its striking neon green transparent hue. Using this color (Pantone 381c/388u) throughout our packaging and marketing materials has unified the look of everything RESCUE!. It's such an unusual color that it jumps out at you when you see it, and we love it so much that we've been on the hunt for anything "electric green", as we like to call it.
When I want to check to see if the green is 'our' green, I get out my business card, which is flood-coated on the back. Here it is compared to the trap:
I bought these bins for my office because they were a close match:
Found this tumbler at Target and bought a bunch for the lunchroom. The pen is a new logo item as a giveaway for our trade shows:
Nothing says loyalty to your brand like wearing the signature color on your feet. Here's what I found on the back of a recent J. Crew catalog... it's pretty close:
I didn't buy this Key Lime cheesecake at Costco, but was sure tempted to: