OUTDOOR LIVING THE
Building business in the backyard and beyond
Building business in the backyard and beyond
Inflation and uncertainty can’t stop spending on outdoor living. Backyard cookouts will continue to grill. Gardens will grow, under the guidance of homeowners. Even the occasional wedding, graduation or high-end birthday party will run its course, without feeling pressured by the macroeconomic conditions.
But retailers and suppliers need to focus on the details as the challenge to capture the consumer’s share-of-wallet intensifies this spending season and beyond.
The latest figures from the New York-based Conference Board, the economic think tank, show the closely watched Consumer Confidence Index slipped to 101.3 in April (1985=100). That’s down from 104.0 in March, and down
from 108.6 in the same month last year.
“Overall purchasing plans for homes, autos, appliances, and vacations all pulled back in April, a signal that consumers may be economizing amid growing pessimism,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director, economics at The Conference Board.
There’s no shortage of forecasts for year-over-year slowdowns. But a bright spot appears to be the outdoor living space.
During a recent presentation hosted by TraQline, home improvement personality Danny Lipford, host of the DIY-based television show “Today’s Homeowner,” weighed in on the room of the house
that is seeing the most home-improvement activity. He pointed to the outdoor room.
“I see no downward turn in that trend at all,” Lipford said, referring to the trend of spending on the outdoors and extending the living space outside. “Certainly, with people being in your home a lot more. These days, they get tired of being inside. We always think about it this way: Your house doesn’t end at the back door. It extends out into the yard.
“I’m seeing a lot of that and also seeing a lot of interest in creating those outdoor, really fun places.”
He added: “It’s about the strongest trend I see, along with the kitchen and bath facelifts.”
The 11 outdoor living features, and estimated price tag included in the NAR and NALP report are as follows:
A recent report from National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Landscape Professionals — 2023 Remodeling Impact Report: Outdoor Features saw demand increase the most for an overall landscape upgrade (61%), landscape maintenance (58%) and a new patio (55%). Conversely, they saw the least increased demand for a new wood deck (15%), an in-ground pool addition (25%) and tree care (29%).
“The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way Americans use their homes for daily living, relaxation and entertainment,” said Dr. Jessica Lautz, NAR deputy chief economist and vice president of research. “Homeowners have embraced their outdoor spaces — transforming them into oases with pools, patios, plants and greenery. These outdoor features are embraced by the homeowner and can also attract buyers if the owner wants to sell.”
Sterling International, makers of Rescue! brand pest control products, has built a successful business partly on the idea that humans can win the battle against the limitless armies of troublesome insects — or at least buy some temporary relief.
But it takes a heavy dose of science, and that’s where Sterling distinguishes itself. The company invests heavily in the laboratories and in the field with experts dedicated to solving pest control problems.
Ultimately, the products developed in the lab and in the field represent opportunities for retailers to add
“outdoor-event rescue specialist” to their long list of customer services. Plus, the products are free of pesticides.
Sterling International provided two such scientists —Director of Research & Development Qing-He Zhang Ph.D., and Lead Research Biologist Doreen Hoover—for the following Q&A:
HBSDealer: In a way that a non-scientist can understand: can you explain how your products work?
“Our pest control products, mainly the insect traps and lures, do not contain any pesticides and are environmentally safe. The attractants used in our traps are natural chemical (insect pheromones or food smells) or physical (colors) signals used by insects to find their mates, food, or habitats. When insects smell our chemical attractants or see our visual attractants (colors/ contrasts/patterns), they will fly to our traps and get caught inside the traps or onto our sticky trap surfaces.
“We learn from the insects to try our best to understand how the insects communicate with each other along with their environments chemically and physically. Then we mimic or
trick them into using their own natural chemical and physical signals to fight against them.”
HBSDealer: So, Rescue! products are safe — for pets, kids and the environment?
Yes, they are safe for pets, kids, and environment because there are no pesticides.
HBSDealer: What gives Rescue! products a sustainable advantage over the competition?
“Rescue products are not only environmentally safe for our users, but also very effective! Instead of being a marketing/branding company (like many of our competitors are), Sterling International, Inc., is a vertically integrated and R&D driven company.
“Our R&D department is equipped with the State of the Art technologies/equipment along with several academically well-known organic chemists, chemical ecologists, and entomologists. Sterling also owns near 100 U.S. and international utility and design patents on insect traps, attractants, repellents, and bait stations.
“For each Rescue! product, we would test its efficacy against all other major commercial products on the market (especially the major competitors) and make sure that our products would perform significantly better than them. And we improve our products continually by considering ourselves as being our own biggest competitor, and trying to beat ourselves.”
What typically happens in your laboratory?
(What’s going on in there?)
“Our R&D department is responsible for developing new products and improving our current products; thus, this involves providing product concept developments, making experimental designs, preparing lab and field tests, conducting various experiments, completing data analysis, and reviewing all these results. It will also involve chemical analysis, organic synthesis, dispenser technology, trap designs, 3D printing prototypes, and field or bioassay testing, among many others.”
Science is in the DNA at Sterling International, and the products are made in the USA.
“Everything is designed, manufactured, and produced in our factory in Spokane, Washington,” said Alyssa Ando, marketing manager for Sterling International.
The insect-and-chemistry lab is attached to the headquarters building. That allows everything from research to product development to design to be American-made, including plastic injection molding and assembly of traps.
Rescue! offers more than a dozen high-performing pest control products for sting-free staycations, bug-free backyards and pest-free picnics. Check them out at Rescue.com. Here are few highlights:
The Rescue! Reusable Yellowjacket Trap has a unique trap design that prevents yellowjackets from escaping. Pests ﬂy in through holes in the bottom of the trap, then continue upward through the interior cone and become trapped within the outer cylinder.
Yellowjackets eventually die of dehydration, as opposed to a pesticide. The trap’s durable construction holds up in sunlight, and its clear plastic walls allow the customer to see the yellowjacket “body count.”
Note: The Yellowjacket Trap will not trap beneﬁcial honeybees.
It doesn’t take long to make an impact on the backyard, barn or any outdoor space with this product. It will begin attracting ﬂies very quickly, and keep working — it catches up to 20,000 ﬂies. (Yes, they’ve been counted.) The end user simply cuts the clear plastic circle at the very top and adds water to the ﬁll line.
Lured by the scent (caution: it’s very strong), ﬂ ies enter the trap through the yellow top cap and drown in the water — again, no pesticides.
DECK & PATIO FLY TRAPSTIK
Exclusive VisiLure technology (https://www.rescue.com/ visilure/ ) draws insects by attracting them with appealing colors and a multi-dimensional pattern. Flies are attracted by the colors and patterns, then get trapped on the sticky surface. It’s water-resistant, pesticide-free and odor free.
When Melville, New York-based Leviton rolled out its new Decora Weather-Resistant Switch earlier this year, two big ideas were at work.
First, as outdoor living continues to grow in sophistication — think outdoor kitchens, gazebos, ceiling fans and fountains — products with high aesthetic qualities are in increasing demand.
Second, very simply, is the importance of safety in all weather conditions. The new switch, like most of Leviton’s residential portfolio, checks both boxes.
“Our Decora Weather-Resistant Switch adds convenience to outdoor living by providing a safe and easily accessible way to switch lights and motor loads on and off from the exterior of a home,” said William Randall, director of product management at Leviton.
“It is an important expansion to the existing line of Leviton outdoor solutions, which includes weather-resistant receptacles, GFCIs and USB Charger Devices.”
The company’s portfolio of weather resistant products is well suited to the trend of outdoor living, especially for those use-cases that involve big-ticket outdoor living products: pool and spa areas, sheds, cabanas and the kind of outdoor lighting that makes a statement. Of course, any outdoor living environment — at any budget — benefits from safe and convenient products.
Leviton Weather-Resistant Outlets are available in Tamper-Resistant and GFCI models to help insure both personal safety and weather resistance in wet or damp outdoor locations.
Peace of mind, all the time. The SmartlockPro® Self-Test GFCI — that stands for ground-fault circuit interrupter, a key to outdoor and indoor safety — tests itself even if the homeowner forgets.
Designed to meet the latest UL standard for auto-monitoring (self-test) the complete line of selftest GFCIs periodically conduct an automatic internal test to confirm that it can respond to a ground-fault. With the slimmest profile on the market, the device allows for fast and easy installation, while Leviton’s patented reset lockout mechanism prevents reset of the GFCI if it is not wired or operating correctly. The SmartlockPro Self-Test GFCI is the smart choice in ground-fault circuit interrupter protection.
Here’s the first outdoor addition to Leviton’s line of in-wall USB Chargers. Safe, reliable and designed for outdoor use, (as long as it’s installed in a weatherproof enclosure with approved caulk and gaskets), it’s described as “the future of charging.”
The USB Type-C® port provides faster charging and is emerging as the standard port on many phones, tablets and laptops.
It also features a built-in smart chip recognizes the individual device’s charging requirements to optimize the charge. Two high-powered charging ports deliver a combined total of 5.1A charging current and 25+ watts of power.
“The device delivers a convenient way to charge electronics while spending time outdoors, so users never lose sight of, or access to, their smartphones, tablets, laptops or more,” said Randall.
The bottom line is safety and convenience for outdoor living: No more searching for charging adapters, and the outlets remain free for additional power needs.
It has indoor good looks, with outdoor durability. The new weather-resistant switch features UV stabilized thermoplastic construction and extra corrosion protection to withstand the rigors of exposure to the elements.
Designed for use in wet or damp locations, such as residential and commercial outdoor kitchens and bars, lighting, patios, pool and spa areas, sheds, gazebos, cabanas, ceiling fans and fountains, the Decora Weather-Resistant Switch features a patent-pending design. It’s engineered so that actuation is achieved with magnets to allow the subplate/switch to be impervious to water intrusion.
This all-in-one solution eliminates the need for the addition of an outdoor protective cover.
Key features shared among the Leviton family of devices:
Code compliant for outdoor residential and commercial areas
Can be used in wet or damp locations
UV stabilized thermoplastic construction
Leviton offers a variety of weatherproof solutions for outdoor residential and commercial areas, all while meeting the National Electrical Code ® (NEC®) requirements and industry standards.