What do you get when you combine ingenuity with best-in-class manufacturing and distribution? A wonderful partnership that’s “unbreakable” between LCI and Ironlace, maker of the world’s strongest laces.
Check out our interview with Graham Buksa from Ironlace on how we collaborate to meet market demand while providing meaningful employment to our team at LCI, the largest employer of Americans who are blind and low vision.
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Full Transcript of Video
Valonda Calloway (00:00):
Hi, it’s Valonda Calloway coming to you to talk about a very exciting partnership that LCI has with a company called Ironlace. Graham Buksa is joining me to talk about it. Graham, so nice to see you. Yeah. So let’s talk about it. LCI is helping Ironlace get these laces out in record time to your customers, right?
Graham Buksa (00:26):
Wow. It’s been such a huge transition for us. We’ve been in business for a little over 10 years in the last two years. I don’t think we’ve been able to keep up the orders just keep coming in. And every time we think we have a little bit of breathing room, they just keep coming. And so it’s been a really exciting time to work with LCI because in the last year, our existing manufacturing transferred into an LCI facility and they’ve been there to help us through this transition.
Valonda Calloway (00:58):
Talk about what LCI is doing for you. The manufacturing plant is producing the laces for you.
Graham Buksa (01:05):
Yeah, so we have all of our products made in everything from materials to labor and sanding and fulfillment in the United States. But the bulk of that is at our LCI and Raleigh and they, we have machinery that we’ve imported into their facility. And they do all of our manufacturing. So once we, what we get is something like this, we get cordage that, or, or the, the shoelaces in a variety of different sizes and shapes. And we haven’t brought over to the facility and we have a few different machines and they cut and tip the machine, the laces to, you know, 12 different lengths. And I think we have over 50 different products. So you know, when I say that it’s actually quite, even though it’s just shoelaces, it becomes a complicated matter because we’ve got to worry about all the different inventory sizes, where they’re kept in inventory, how much inventory we’re managing the boxes, all the different, you know, it just it’s best to laces, but it becomes quite a complex task in managing that. We’ve really turned to LCI to help us grow.
Valonda Calloway (02:23):
And you’ve actually been able to produce, I forgot the exact percentage, but it’s a, it’s a big number a lot more than you were before connecting with LCI.
Graham Buksa (02:33):
Oh yeah, absolutely. And you know, over the last year we made a visit to LCI in right the first day of March in 2020 before sort of lock downs came and before it really hit and we met with them and we were just so impressed because we were able to, you know, we were essentially operating out of their Durham or their Raleigh plant for years. And we didn’t know that, you know, how big this could get or, or really what was happening. And we went to Raleigh to see, you know, how we can improve our process. And when we arrived at headquarters in Durham just the depth of the organization all the different teams and people that they had, their, their fulfillment center in Raleigh or in Durham.
Valonda Calloway (03:19):
Talk about these laces. They’re almost indestructible.
Graham Buksa (03:22):
Shoelaces are super strong, they don’t melt. So they’re really popular with firefighters and welders and anyone who works in construction and kind of uses their foot as a place to rest something heavy.
Valonda Calloway (03:35):
You’re working right now to get your laces into hockey skates.
Graham Buksa (03:39):
If it matters to you to have your best performance and time on the ice, when it matters then you should get our laces. And one of the big reasons we do this for hockey as opposed to other sports first is because you’re liteRaleigh walking on a cutting edge and that’s clear and designed to do, to stand right up to this. And so our lakes, you know one of the common complaints about these other than stretching and breaking all the time is that, you know, you’re, you’re in a game next to blades.
Valonda Calloway (04:10):
You’re working on a Kickstarter campaign.
Graham Buksa (04:13):
Yeah. We’ve got a Kickstarter campaign right now. And we’re launching these products they’re available til December 17th. And we’re hoping to get through our first production run. So with hockey players, we can decide what type of striping, how much wax, what color it is, and and then deliver it to their hands in at the end of February early March.
Valonda Calloway (04:35):
Fantastic. Well, we hope that your Kickstarter is successful and that we can do even more business would be great. Thank you so much. It was a pleasure talking to you and learning about Ironlace.