- MR CHAIN Flag, featured at the GSA show in Orlando
As a new GSA contract holder, MR CHAIN was attending its first GSA show in Orlando, Florida this May. We wanted to emphasize that MR CHAIN is a US manufacturer. Our idea was to make a US flag completely out of plastic chain. We decided to use our one inch ring plastic chain, since the ring style is a perfect circle. Of course, we used our standard red and white plastic chain, plus one of our specialty colors - cobalt blue. Since the booth was less than 10 feet wide, we wanted the flag to be about five feet wide, so we knew that approximately 60 rows of one inch chain would work. For the rod, we purchased a metal dowel and used one inch red and cobalt blue master links as the top row on the rod. The stripes were easy - just four red and four white links for the height of each stripe, so the flag had to be 52 links in height to make the thirteen stripes.. Actually, we used four red links, a white master link, two white links, another white master link, four red links, etc. Besides using a real American flag as a guide, we also purchased a rug hooking pattern to get the proper proportions. The stars were the biggest challenge since they have to be spaced vertically with six columns of five stars each and five columns of four stars each. The rows also had to be staggered vertically. After some experimenting, the most authentic looking stars needed to be placed using two columns each - each star uses four rings of white chain. None of the vertical rows of chain are connected to each other at all. We simply hung the rod on two or three vertical supports, and spaced the columns of chain evenly along the rod. Overall, it took 3,120 links of one inch ring chain to make.the entire MR CHAIN U.S.flag. Since there is never more than four links of any one color in a column, this required lots of cutting. With a little pattern planning, it would be possible to make any country, state or college flag out of plastic chain.
The flag was a huge hit with GSA show attendees, and it attracted lots of people to the MR CHAIN booth. Many people wanted to examine it to see how it was made, and several took pictures. We even had a few people who wanted to purchase the flag from us, but it was not for sale. Now, the flag has a place of honor on the wall in our factory
in Copemish, Michigan.
- Mercedes and Velvet Kidding
There are so many uses for plastic chain, but this is one of our favorites. One of our customers provides many colors of our plastic chain as collars for their goats. The colorful plastic chainprotects the goats from hunters; it also helps differentiate which goats have had certain inoculations, or what diet they need. The chain is strong enough to lead the goats, but will not hurt the animal. And, if the goat gets stuck on a bush, the plastic chain will not choke the goat. Isn't this an innovative use of MR Chain plastic chain?
All of this reminds us of the "Goat joke". There were two goats, behind a movie theatre, chewing on some cans of film. One goat asked the other, "How do like the film?" The other goat replied, "I liked the book better".
We really love to hear about unusual or creative uses for Mr Chain plastic chain.
[caption id="attachment_368" align="alignleft" width="112"] Dinner Time[/caption]
After more than 40 years in the Village of Copemish, MI, the employees at MR CHAIN celebrated the Company's 50th Anniversary by giving back to the local community. First, there was a Bake Sale to benefit the Copemish Village Library, organized by Annabelle Strong, one of the machine operators on the first shift.
Then, in early September, the managers of the Copemish Flea Market gave us some space, and we sold home made baked goods; household items, hand-made greeting cards, and clothing. Several employees baked cookies, pies, bread, etc., and a few worked the booth for the weekend.
Finally, we ran a Charity Poker Bike Run, that started at our factory, and ran about 100 miles, mostly along the scenic M-22, along Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear Dunes. It was a rainy day, but those who participated were enthusiastic. After stops at the Empire Village Inn, , Jodi's Tangled Antler, and the Cabbage Shed in Elberta, the final stop was at the Laughing Horse Saloon in Thompsonville, where all the riders enjoyed tacos, and played out their poker hands. All three of the winning prizes ended up going to MR CHAIN employees, and the proceeds from both the Flea Market and the Bike Run went to benefit the St. Joseph Food Pantry, in Onekama, MI.
These are sooooo good! Linda Frees, our Shipping manager, makes these every year at Christmas, and they are addictive!
1 cup flour
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup butter (not margarine)
Mix all together with pastry blender. Set aside one cup. Press the remaining crumb mixture into a 9"x13" unbuttered pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.
1 bag caramels (about 50)
5 TBL. milk
Melt caramels and milk together in microwave for 1-2 minutes until mostly melted. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn. Remove and stir until smooth.
When crust is done, pour the caramel filling on top, spreading out to almost the edges of pan. Then sprinkle on 1 cup Nestle butterscotch pieces; 1/2 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup reserved crumb mixture.
Return to oven and bake another 15 minutes. Remove and score into 1" bars. After cookies are cool, cut and enjoy.
(May substitute another type of chopped nuts or another flavor of chips.)
HAPPY HALLOWEEN FROM MR CHAIN!
Halloween is big business, and getting bigger every year. Spending on Halloween decorating is second only to Christmas. And, as far as celebrations go, celebrations for Halloween rank second or third in the U.S., depending on who is counting, only to New Year's Eve and Super Bowl Sunday.
In 2009, the National Retail Federation (NRF)http://www.nrf.com/modules.php?name=Dashboard&id=54
reported that Americans spent $66.54 per person on Halloween in 2008. The survey also reported that 62.1% of those surveyed will take part in some sort of Halloween activities, including wearing a costume (33.4%), carving a pumpkin (42.4%), going to a party (30.2%), giving out candy (71.2%), decorating a home or yard (47.3%), or trick or treating (31.8%).
For this season, MR CHAIN got into the act of of Halloween decorating. We supplied all Menards stores with sections of our black, wrought iron edging, to complement some of the many other Halloween items that Menards provides. Here is a photo of our "graveyard" fencing, coupled with a few of Menards other ghoulish items:
For next year, we want to add our Holiday lighting kits to our Halloween decorating items:
These kits can also be used for Christmas lighting, and they are quick and easy to use. Just slide any string of lights into the posts and insert the posts into the ground.HAVE A HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
After a long time planning and building, MR CHAIN is happily settling into our new offices.
In order to consolidate our operations in one place, M R Products has built new corporate offices inside the footprint of our factory. It was a challenge to fit everything we needed inside our existing building, but with the help of Fred Campbell of JML Design Group, LTD of Traverse City, we were able to come up with a plan to fit six offices, a conference room, lunchroom, two restrooms, copy room, and mechanical room - all within our existing facility. This also meant we had to relocate our old quality control and maintenance areas to other parts of the factory.
The actual construction began in June and ended in September. Robert T. Cole of Cadillac, MI was our General Contractor.
Besides saving on rent, the move also allows us to have all our employees in one place, which is much more efficient, allows better direct communication, and should allow us all to focus on what we like to do best at M R Products - produce quality plastic chain, plastic stanchions, and lawn and garden products for our industrial and retail customers.
Now that we are more or less settled in our new offices, we'd like to introduce two new key people in Copemish.
Ryan Schultz is our new Controller, although he has taken on responsibilities for all kinds of areas, including updates to our web site, human resource administration, computers, telephones, etc., etc. Ryan is a student at Baker College in Cadillac, studying Business Administration, with a focus on accounting. He must be a pretty good student, since the College has already asked him to teach. Ryan likes to hunt (and do all the outdoor-sy things people do in Northern Michigan). In his spare time, he is also the Treasurer for the Friends of the Cadillac, MI Public Library, and has coached hockey for 11 and 12 year old boys and girls.
Shirley Singletary is our new Customer Service Associate. Shirley had extensive service in Customer Service from a previous job in Traverse City. She has great skills in numerous software programs, including computer graphics, and has been busy learning our products and developing all new printed marketing material. She is working with outside printers and photographers, and recently accompanied the photographer to a photo shoot in the local cemetery to take pictures of MR CHAIN's black "wrought iron look" plastic chainfor a Halloween project. Shirley is very organized, and detail-oriented, and she has a very pleasant, professional manner on the phone. Shirley has also worked in the medical field, and is certified in CPR. She has a pretty diverse background, and wanted us to know, that she is even certified to drive our fork lift. Shirley lives in Copemish with her 19 - YES, that is right, 19! cats.
The word "plastic" comes from the Greek, "plastikos". It means to be shaped or molded. Plastic is the most used material in the world.
One of the best things about plastic is that it lasts a long, long time, and that is why there are so many uses for it. Unfortunately, this also means that it takes a very long time, sometimes hundred of years, for plastic to decompose, so it can create a serious environmental concern.
At MR CHAIN, we make products that last for many years, but when the time has come to dispose of one of our MR CHAIN plastic products, we want to make it easy for our customers to RECYCLE.
Recycling is simply a way to turn old products into new ones. At MR CHAIN, we use prime quality high density polyethylene, and it is totally recyclable. In a way, we have our own internal recycling program since any waste material we produce in or manufacturing process is simply ground up into plastic pellets and used again. We even sell any floor sweepings so nothing goes to waste.
Synthetic resins are used to make plastic and most resins are produced from petroleum. Although there are hundreds of different plastics, they are belong to two basic types - thermosets and thermoplastics. Thermoplastics, from which all our MR CHAIN products are produced, can be melted and reformed many times- their polymer chains allow this to happen.
In order to encourage our customers to recycle our products, at MR CHAIN we include the recycling symbol on the base of each of our plastic stanchions. Here is the recycling symbol for our products -
When you see this symbol, this means you can definitely recycle this product. Most Americans have access to recycling programs. Recycling conserves resources, energy and space in landfills - it is also a big business. There are more than 1,600 businesses in the US alone that recycle post-consumer plastics.
So, please, when your MR CHAIN plastic chain or plastic stanchions finally get old and tired, recycle them, and then come back for some new ones.
Among their many other talents, some of the employees at M R Products, Inc. in Copemish, MI, happen to be great cooks. One of our long-time employees in the Shipping Department, Sheila Merrill not only cooks, she also maintains an extensive garden, and cans a lot of her own produce. She makes terrific salsa, but today, we wanted to publish a favorite recipe for all of us at MR CHAIN - Sheila's oven made caramel corn.
5 qts. popped corn
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Place popped corn in oven at 250 degrees to keep warm and crisp. Combine brown sugar, butter, corn syrup, and salt. Boil to soft ball stage. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Syrup will foam. Pour syrup over popped corn, mix well, and return to oven for 45 to 50 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Cool and serve.
This is really delicious, and very popular with all of us at M R Products/MR CHAIN. Enjoy!
Because I was around since the beginning, I thought it might be interesting to record my memories of how things were back in 1960, when my dad, Michael T. Russo, founded M R products, Inc. I was 12 years old, and I remember that we all pitched in to help, whether it was cleaning the offices or typing invoices. Until then, my dad had been selling extracts for beverages, and he traveled quite a bit. It was his dream to have his own business, and, because he was in the beverage business, he came up with a new product idea for a plastic reseal cap. He applied for and was granted a patent. Since back then, most soda came in 16 oz. glass bottles, these reseal caps were perfect to keep the carbonation in the bottle. The cap could also show some advertising, so Pepsi liked it, and gave my dad $12,000 for the patent. I remember that my mother, sister and I were excited since my dad got to meet Joan Crawford, who was Vice Chairman of PepsiCo at that time.
With that small amount of capital, my father bought one injection molding machine and rented some space in a factory in Madison Heights, MI. He would put on old clothes to work at the factory and make parts, and then change into a suit and tie to try to sell them. Back in the early '60s, plastic engineering and manufacturing was very new, and he had to experiment with all kinds of materials to find the best material for a particular part. I remember once, when he was mixing materials and trying to purge them with a plunger, he burned off one of his eyebrows with a nylon material! No one had a degree in plastics engineering back then, but my dad did study engineering at Ohio State, and he had an inventive mind. He was always curious about how things worked, and once came up with an idea for locking a stanchion by studying a medical catheter.
In the early years, M R Products, Inc. was a supplier to General Motors, Chrysler, and Stanley Door, but it was his dream to make his own proprietary products. Over the course of the first ten years in business, he applied for almost 100 patents, and was granted at least 27. These patents included several designs for plastic posts, a greenhouse, flower pots, and an entire line of safety and crowd control products. By the middle 1980's, the product line included 3 styles and nine sizes of plastic chain, plus matching S-hooks, C-hooks, connecting links, O-rings, plastic clips, and masterlinks.
By 1970,MR Products, Inc. owned two manufacturing plants - one on Larchwood Road in Troy, MI, and the other in the Village of Copemish, MI. Around that time, the Company started using the trade name, "MR CHAIN". By 1975, the Company ceased molding parts for anyone else, and made only proprietary products. The Company grew and became a supplier of safety and crowd control products for industrial and retail markets. At one time , there were a couple of other U.S. suppliers for plastic chain, but gradually other manufacturing moved offshore, and MR CHAIN has been the only U.S. supplier for plastic chain now for several years.
Over the years, Michael Russo continued to invent new items and invent new products. His last patent was issued in 1997 and was for a plastic clip that we still sell as our "MR Clip". See patent information here. http://www.patentstorm.us/patents/5653004/claims.html
Although, my dad passed away in 2006 at the age of 85, he never stopped working and thinking about new inventions. His family is continuing his legacy.