How did the company come about? How did you determine the need for advanced ergonomic design?
At the time I came up with the idea for Radius Garden I was running a children’s products company that did all of its manufacturing in China. On one particular trip there I was traveling with a young woman who worked for us as a product manager. She was also an avid gardener and had done a pretty good job of tearing up her right hand with a conventional trowel while setting in bedding plants. It struck me that she had been using the tool exactly the way in which it was intended to be used and it still injured her. It’s even worse to use conventional tools for people like my wife, who has carpal tunnel syndrome, or people who have arthritis or other hand or wrist conditions. With the gardening population aging it just seemed obvious that there had to be a market for tools that made gardening easier and safer.
How old is Radius Garden?
We shipped our first products to retailers in the fall of 2005. Consumers first bought our products in the spring of 2006.
How many people do you have working at the company now?
We outsource manufacturing, logistics, and much of our sales activities; so we are able to operate with a modest staff. We have fewer than ten full time employees and another handful of part time employees in Ann Arbor, Michigan; a VP of Sales in Corvalis, Orgeon; and a Sourcing Manager in Guangzhou, China. If the question were “How many people does it take to make, transport, and sell your products?” the answer would be thousands. Today, with the power of the internet and the specialization of contract manufacturing, contract logistics, and third-party distribution it is possible to do things with a handful of people that would have taken dozens only a few years ago.
What is the philosophy behind the products made by Radius?
We want to make innovative, best-of-class products that make gardening easier and more fun for people.
What are some of the awards and recognition the products have received?
Probably the best recognition we’ve received is in the form of thank you notes from customers with arthritis, carpal tunnel, and other hand and wrist problems who tell us the tools wonderful and allow them to spend more time, more comfortably in the garden. We received a 98% overall approval rating for our products by 100 testers for the National Home Gardening Club. We’ve had tremendous positive coverage in the national press including: Better Homes & Gardens, House & Garden, the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, HGTV’s “I Want That” and many others.
How do you give back to the community?
We find many small ways to help. For example, we have made dozens of agricultural loans all over the world, mostly to women, through Kiva. We encourage others to explore this program. We also provide some support to many organizations that help less fortunate people through gardening. These organizations include Growing Hope and Food Gatherers. You may notice photos on this web site and our Facebook page from Manzo Elementary School and other organizations we have supported. If you belong to a worthy organization that helps people through gardening, please let us know. We'd like to help if we can and it meets our guidelines.
Where are the products made?
The products are manufactured according to our designs in southern China. I personally spend lots of time in the factories monitoring production issues, working on new product development, and making sure the products are manufactured according to our high quality standards. I visit China three or four times per year and spend most of my time actually in the factories. We are proud to have passed quality and human rights audits by major US retailers.
Where do you get the designs for your products?
We design most of our products in Ann Arbor, Michigan. We also work with a few talented independent product designers based in the U.S. The two primary sources of inspiration for the products are my own experience as a lifelong gardener and lots of research into ergonomics and human factors.
What is your most popular product?
Not surprisingly our all-time most popular product is the Natural Radius Grip Trowel. All gardeners use trowels and this one is the best on the market. Our second most popular product is our innovative Natural Radius Grip Weeder. These days, the Radius Butterfly is selling so fast it is likely to become number one very quickly.
Are Radius products safe?
Yes. We believe they are perfectly safe. However, the State of California has unusually restrictive rules requiring warnings for certain metals that are used to alloy stainless steel and diecast aluminum. Radius has tested some, but not all, of its products with Intertek, an independent testing laboratory to determine whether or not they are California Proposition 65 compliant. Our watering products have passed Proposition 65 testing for compliance. With our diecast aluminum hand tools the story is more complex. Most hand tools passed Proposition 65 testing; however, random pieces appeared to have minute variations in lead levels causing some to pass and some to fail. The only way any lead can be detected at all is with a spectrograph since it is completely encapsulated within the alloy and does not leach out. Our stainless steel digging products have not been tested, but would likely include minute traces of lead and chromium, both necessary to creating stainless steel. So, although we believe our products to be completely safe under all imaginable uses, excess caution requires that we issue California residents this general caution for Radius Garden products:
WARNING: Cancer and reproductive harm- www.P65Warnings.ca.gov
How Can I Clean and Maintain my Radius Tools