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Awesome Heavyweight in Scales

Oct 1, 2007

The Barmes family followed a long walk down the Main Street of their hometown, Vincennes, IN, to end up as a dominant supplier of scales to a wide range of markets. Greg Barmes, the owner of Awesome Wholesale, says the walk began in 1972 when Main Street shops were vacating, as big box chains opened up in surrounding areas.

He and other members of his family began buying buildings and opening shuttered storefronts, first with a marshal arts store and later with a series of stores that occupied unique niches, including an electronics and a lingerie shop.

But, "the town lost about 6,000 people," Barmes said, "and as it was shrinking, we began looking to a wholesale business on the theory that we could make more money and not be bound by state lines. It wouldn't matter if the town has a population of only 17,000."

In his search for different items to wholesale, he hit on scales, a niche that offered broad opportunities for many kinds of businesses. They include schools, pawn shops, jewelry retailers and housewares.

Soon the company was doing such a good business with scales that it became a specialist, supplying the full gamut of scale products, from large, highly precise units to tiny, hand held ones, along with household units for kitchens and baths. The full range includes scales that wholesale for about $5.99, to ones for medical supply companies that sell for $3,900.

To satisfy its larger, more institutional clients, Awesome carries the Ohaus brand. Ohaus is a major global manufacturer that supplies Awesome with some exclusive product, and will also assemble custom units on order. "Ohaus represents about 10 percent of our total sales," said Barmes.

"We realized there was a bigger, untouched market represented by the need for smaller size scales," he continues. To meet that demand, the company developed its own U.S. Balance brand.

That brand encompasses 40 different scales. The smallest is a tabletop, general purpose unit that measures 3 by 16 inches, which sells primarily to mom and pop independent retailers, who resell it and also use one in their businesses. It has a wholesale price of $5.99 and suggested retail of $29.99.

There are kitchen scales and bathroom scales that measure total weight, and also indicate body fat. Sales of the U.S. Balance brand have increased 15 percent a year for the past six years, according to Barmes.

As specialists, the entire Barmes family and Roy Robertson, marketing director, have become experts on scale technology, which has led Awesome Wholesale to develop special features. The family includes Greg Barmes wife, Susan, brothers Brian and Mark, and sons Dustin and Nathan.

"We design or own scales, build prototypes, and test them before we go into manufacturing," Barmes said. The newest innovation, not available on any other line, is, "EasyCal." It stands for easy calibration, and is trademarked and patent pending. Scale calibration is impacted by temperature, altitude and humidity," Barmes explains. "Because accuracy is so critical, this called for extensive instructions for recalibration in different geographic areas and environmental settings."

Through work with its manufacturer, Awesome Wholesale developed a system that automatically recalibrates scales with the push of a single button. The technology measures all environmental factors and adjusts accordingly. "This eliminates the need to read pages of instructions and also gives our customers increased confidence in the scale's accuracy," Barmes said. The company's customers conclude, EasyCal is awesome!

For more information, contact:

Awesome Wholesale
1098 East Beckes Lane
Beckes Industrial Park
Vincennes, IN 47591
Toll Free: 888-293-7661
Tel.: 812-895-1080
Fax: 812-895-1092

Topic: Company Profiles

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Article ID: 343

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