MADE IN AMERICA

How Mr. Ice Bucket is freezing

out the competition

 

 

 

Jennifer Schlesinger | @jennyanne211

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 | 11:44 AM

 

You will find an ice bucket in every hotel room, but you have probably never given it much thought. Unless you're Fred Haleluk, the CEO and president of Mr. Ice Bucket, a New Brunswick, New Jersey-based company that manufactures ice buckets in the United States.

 

For 50 years, Mr. Ice Bucket has been the oldest continuously managed ice bucket manufacturing facility in the world. Its claim to fame: They use only local U.S. artisans, who are passionate about churning out a high-quality product.

And high-end hotel chains are their biggest customer. If you have stayed at well-known hotels such as the Venetian, Trump properties orMarriott, you may find the smiley Mr. Ice Bucket logo on the bottom.

 

"We sell between 150,000 to 210,000 ice buckets in a year ... and most of the volume comes from the hotel industry," Haleluk said. His company brings in more than $7 million in sales, with ice buckets retailing between $20 and $75.

 

In 1965, when Haleluk founded Mr. Ice Bucket, he had 13 competitors in the U.S. After buying out seven of his competitors, including Lancaster Colony's ice bucket division, Haleluk now owns one of the only two companies to manufacture ice buckets in the country. He told CNBC he controls about 50 percent of the U.S.-made market. 

But about a decade ago Mr. Ice Bucket started to see sales melt as overseas imports, especially from China, started entering the market, at a much lower cost.

 

Haleluk said the quality of these imports simply does not compare to his company's. "The quality is like night and day. I never worry about a Chinese product at all. It's when I have to sell on price that we can't sell on price at all," Haleluk told CNBC.