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Red Devil cranks up convenience

Home repair is made easy with caulk and sealants in squeeze tubes. A patented device fitted on the tube’s end allows consumers to roll up the empty end of the tube, thereby ensuring that virtually all of the product can be used. Red Devil uses the tubes for eight SKUs, including kitchen and bath caulk, wallpaper seam repair, tile adhesive and tile grout.

Turning the crank on the E-Z Squeeze device permits nearly 100% usage of the tube's contents and also increases shelf life.
Turning the crank on the E-Z Squeeze device permits nearly 100% usage of the tube's contents and also increases shelf life.

For those of us who don’t approach home repair work with the zeal of Bob Vila, Red Devil Co. has developed House & Home Restore™ caulks and sealants in easy-to-use squeeze tubes.

Perhaps the most intriguing element to the package is the E-Z Squeeze device attached to the end of the tube. When a portion of the tube’s contents has been used, the consumer turns a crank on the device, and the excess tube material rolls into the E-Z Squeeze. Not only does E-Z Squeeze allow consumers to get the most out of the product, but it also increases shelf life. “One of the advantages of our device is that when you squeeze it down and keep all the air out, it keeps the product fresh, and it will stay good for a year or more,” says Kate Sollecito, creative services manager for the Union, NJ-based company. Without the E-Z Squeeze device, shelf life would be cut in half after opening, she adds.

Cebal America/Pechiney (Norwalk, CT) extrudes the low-density polyethylene tube at its Shelbyville, TN, plant. Cebal then injection-molds the high-density PE shoulder/nozzle and welds it to the tube. The tube is offset-printed in six colors. Cebal injection-molds the polypropylene cap and sends the open-ended tubes to Red Devil for filling. In March ’99, Red Devil purchased a new ProSys (Webb City, MO) intermittent-motion, rotary squeeze-tube filling machine to package the House & Home Restore line.

A winning design

“A lot of people these days are redoing their houses, [do-it-yourselfers] who aren’t contractors,” Sollecito says. “They’re just typical Joes fixing up their houses.”

These “typical Joes” are the kind of people who would choose the easy-to-use squeeze tube over a caulk gun, Sollecito says. “You need know-how [to use a caulk gun] because if you don’t hold it exactly right, too much caulk squeezes out. It’s very tricky if you’re not experienced,” she says. “Contractors and people who are doing major renovations on their homes would buy cartridges because it is more cost-effective. But squeeze tubes are much easier because you can use a small amount and [replace the] cap.”

When Sollecito and a Red Devil graphic designer set out to design this package, they knew they wanted to use simple graphics and copy. Each SKU has its own distinct color, and the product’s name is spelled out in large, bold letters against a clean, white background. “These days it’s very confusing to go into the store when there’s so many products. It can be overwhelming,” Sollecito says. “Our idea was to make it as simple as possible.”

An inventor approached Red Devil with the E-Z Squeeze device that he developed, and Sollecito says it was the finishing touch House & Home Restore needed. She says Red Devil wanted something that would attach to the tube and that would come on every tube so the device wouldn’t be misplaced. “It just makes perfect sense for our product, and we were surprised no one had it when we started doing our research,” she says.

Red Devil bought the patented device from the inventor and made some minor changes to the outer design. A pressure-sensitive label guides the consumer on how to turn the crank. Red Devil also added a triangle-shaped hole to the top of the device for pegboard hanging. This was critical, Sollecito says, because she didn’t want retailers throwing the tubes in bins. She also thought consumers might hang the tubes in their workshops.

A supplier that Red Devil would not disclose injection-molds the polystyrene E-Z Squeeze device, but Red Devil will eventually do the molding in-house at its Pryor, OK, manufacturing facility, says Alan Crupper, Red Devil materials manager. Red Devil flexo-prints the front and back paper label in two colors, and operators manually apply the p-s label to the E-Z Squeeze. Once production volume is up, Red Devil will pad-print the instructions directly onto the device, Crupper says.

Red Devil has received a number of accolades for the House & Home Restore line. It won Package of the Year as well as the Retailer’s Choice award at last year’s National Hardware Show in Chicago. And Today’s Homeowner magazine awarded the tubes as one of the best products of ’99. Sollecito says Red Devil plans on using the E-Z Squeeze device on other products such as silicone caulk and other premium caulks.

Tube filling

Red Devil manufactures its caulks and sealants and packages all its products at its Pryor facility. An operator manually dumps empty squeeze tubes from a shipping case into the ProSys machine’s magazine, which holds about 250 tubes. The tubes are gravity-fed one at a time out of the magazine and into a loading device. The air-actuated loading device moves the tube from a horizontal position into a vertical position, which causes the tube to slide into the puck. Next, the tubes are carried to the auger filler. Product is gravity-fed to the filler from a mixer above it.

From the filler, the filled tube moves onto the next station, which clamps and heat-seals the end of the tube. Then the machine punches out two rectangular holes on the crimped portion of the tube to facilitate application of the E-Z Squeeze device. The tubes fall off the conveyor into a box, which is manually transported to an area of the plant where operators manually snap on the E-Z Squeeze device. Crupper says he plans to automate the application of the E-Z Squeeze device sometime soon.

House & Home Restore tubes are packed in a variety of ways. Operators can clip the tubes to a point-of-purchase display and pack the display into a shipping case. Retailers take the display out of the box and simply place it on the shelf. Tubes can also be placed in corrugated shippers in which the tube’s tip is secured in a hole with a band of corrugated securing the top of the tube.

The House & Home Restore line is available nationwide in stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s and Ace Hardware, as well as in grocery and discount drug stores. The products retail for $2.99 to $3.49.

Sollecito worked on House & Home Restore from beginning to end and is happy with the results. “We thought it would be a good product, and we thought it would sell well,” she says. “And everywhere we have it, it’s doing extremely well. People love it.”

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