Utah Accessories Maker EK Celebrates 25 Years
Ed Kalbach wouldn’t describe his personality as “intense.” Instead, he pauses, and quickly retorts: “No, I’d describe myself as obsessive-compulsive—but in a good way.” Thanks to his obsessive focus on product innovation, he’s grown EK Accessories into a multi-million dollar operation with some 7,000 SKUs in a half-dozen catalogs.
Today, 25 years after launching his company at Booth #32043, Kalbach employs more than 100 people in Logan, Utah. His 30,000-square-foot factory and makes everything from the ubiquitous Cat Strap to private label tie-down straps for Harley-Davidson and Honda. All Made in the USA.
Kalbach, who admits he skimmed through high school and never went to college, launched EK Accessories and his first product, Cat Flaps, at an SIA show in 1985. Cat Flaps flopped, but his next two products, Cat Crap, a lens anti-fogging film, and Cat Straps, sunglass retainers, caught fire. He’s never looked back.
Today, Kalbach sells products into seven separate industries ranging from pet stores to the safety and security industry. Southwest Airline employees sport EK lanyards, the U.S. Army buys his key rings, he makes grab handles and roll-bar accessories for the four-wheel crowd, and then there’s his promotional products catalog.
Kalbach, a self-described motor-head, holds more than two dozen patents and when he looks back on his 25 years building the company it was the Cat Strap that put him on the map. And it was simple, he said. He took a piece of climbing cord, stuck some rubber gas-line tubing off a motorcycle engine on both ends, and then jammed sunglass temples into the gas-line. Call it a Cat Strap.
He went to SIA to hawk them and left with a $60,000 order from some Oakley reps. Not bad for a 21-year-old ski bum living on $125 a week who had rolled into Utah driving an old Chevy Blazer. Kalbach, however, wanted a bit more cash to live on. He opened a motorcycle repair shop and added a ski exchange. And then he got inventive.
It was the Cat Strap that helped spawn dozens of outdoor accessories. He soon took 3- and 5-millimeter climbing cord and added lanyards, key retainers, wristwatch bands and zipper pulls to his line. And in 1988 he introduced patterned webbing into the outdoor market, and he defies anyone to prove differently.
In 1991 he built a new factory in Logan and later, keeping his eye on developing trends, moved away from the neon craze into earth-tone patterns in rope and webbing—another first, he said.
Over the years, REI named his company number one for on-time delivery; EK was picked as Utah’s fastest growing company; and Kalbach was later named Utah’s Small Business Person of the Year. Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine put him on its cover in 1998 and EK was picked as an official licensee for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics. He’s received more honors than there’s space to list them.
But Kalbach is proud of two things when discussing his company: First, he’s most proud of his employees, many of whom have worked with him for years. And he readily admits that it’s their work that has helped make the company successful. No one has been laid off in what most now call the Great Recession.
Next, Kalbach makes everything in Logan, Utah. “Some people tell me I can’t compete with China, and I go ballistic. China will never kick my butt,” he says, as a quick smile spreads across his face.
25 Years and Still Growing!
Logan, UT -January 6, 2010-Since its founding in 1985 EK Ekcessories has grown into the world leader in outdoor accessories. From a humble beginning in a small ski shop on Main Street in Logan, Utah where EK owner Ed Kalbach developed his first of countless creations, beginning with the Cat Flap side shield for Cat Eye style sunglasses, that opened the door for the ever popular Cat Strap Eyewear Retainer and Cat Crap Lens Cleaner/Anti Fog that were soon to follow.
Over the years EK Ekcessories has received numerous awards and supported countless organizations. All of which have contributed to its success as a company.
EK Ekcessories uses and will continue to use only the highest quality materials to create its outstanding lines of accessories and will continue to make them here in the USA. This is not just any accessories company but, a global leader with quality consumer products in the Outdoor, Pet, Safety Security, Motor Sport, and Ad specialty industries with market presentation in over 40 countries worldwide. EK Ekcessories has provided thousands of accessories to companies and individuals who seek quality durability and performance.
EK Ekcessories looks forward to the coming years, continued growth, and is committed to continuing to provide a superior quality accessories line.
EK MOTORSPORTS NAMED OFFICIAL LICENSEE OF AMERICAN HONDA MOTOR CO. PRODUCTS
Logan UT— March 15, 2007. Logan, UT based EK Motorsports, a division of EK Ekcessories and a leading manufacturer for off-road accessories is now an official licensee for American Honda.
EK Motorsport products now available with official Honda logo include Honda Power Cat a dual clip soft end tie down strap, Honda Ratshet Cat a dual clip soft end tie down with a heavy duty ratchet, Honda Junk in the Trunk an ATV/UTV necessity kit, Honda Cats Tail a fleece handle protector, Honda Bad Bungee a 1” adjustable bungee tie down straps. Revolutionary impulse items with Honda logo include Honda Key Cat, Honda Clip Cat with LED light, Honda Keybiner II, Honda Visor Clip, Honda Big Wolf Collar, Honda Big Wolf Leash and the Honda Anti-fog Lens Cleaning Kit.
EK offers a unique edge as all products are manufactured in the USA, their ability to see the product from start to finish as we sell, manage and manufacture all accessories within our one single Logan, UT location has truly been an advantage. EK won the Best of State award for manufacturing and was rated #1 for on time and accurate delivery.
“Honda enthusiasts will surely appreciate the added features; quality and factory look that EK Honda licensed products provide” Tom Francom, EK Motorsports Sales Manager, said.
The blending of Honda with their world renowned fifty year long history of durability and innovation joining with EK Ekcessories, a leading accessory manufacturer for over twenty years is anticipated to be an award winning combination.
EK BRINGS INNOVATION TO SAFETY AND SECURITY
Logan, UT- EK Ekcessories is excited to launch their newest lanyard product combo. The Sports Lanyard Plus II w/ soft and micro soft and triple micro soft ends accompanied with our Two Sided Smart Card Holder is right on the money. This unique combination has proven to possess quality, safety and innovation helpful and even necessary to the safety and security industry.
“We have created the ideal lanyard designed specifically to accessorize and secure any kind of credential, in fact we enjoy a challenge, tell us your situation and we can find a way to meet your needs” Alan Hochberg, Industry Safety and Supply Account Manager said.
Among many of the innovative designs and products EK has created, we offer a reusable safety breakaway set to release at approximately 8-10 pounds for maximum ID card retention, as well as a unique line of pen holding lanyards, the industry’s leading Smart Card and Common Access Card holder, lanyards with dual detachable ends for maximum usability and our exclusive ‘soft end’ lanyards demonstrated to be the best solution for holding and protecting and ID card with a slot and much more.
Sports lanyard Plus II with Soft and Triple Micro Soft Ends (10826B)An EK original, with a soft end designed to easily loop through badges or smart card holders. This Ultimate Breakaway Lanyard will hold up to three Memory Sticks. The detachable buckle feature allows easy access to a computer. Those in the security industry have found great efficiency in this lanyard as the 5mm rope is durable, completely non metallic and as always includes our innovative safety breakaway.
Two Sided Smart Card Holder (10574B)
Protect your ID badge with this Two Sided Smart Card Holder. Cards slide in easily, lock into place and can easily be removed. This cardholder protects up to 2 access cards and provides security and ease of use. This cardholder interfaces perfectly with all EK safety breakaway lanyards.
As ID badge holding continues to be a very integral part of facility security, EK will continue to stick to its simple philosophy. EK uses the highest quality materials, and industry’s leading reusable safety breakaway to ensure that every type of ID card can be held securely, in all working conditions and for years while keeping the wearer safe.
Ed Kalbach Listed Among Top Professionals
LOGAN, UT—EK Ekcessories Inc. President Ed Kalbach was recently listed as the fifth most notable entrepreneurs in Cache Valley in a Herald Journal article titled Cache Valleys top ten “Most Notable Entrepreneurs.”
Kalbach’s unique story of success is one certainly worth telling. A man with an inventive mind working in a ski shop has risen to the top through a few bright ideas. With cat-eye sunglasses being the ski shops best seller Kalbach began creating accessories for the trendy eyewear. His unique eyewear retainer “Cat Straps”, still a best seller today, made the base for what would become a company that now holds numerous patents, a plethora of success stories and distribution in over 40 countries worldwide.
EK Ekcessories now successfully manufacturers a variety of quality accessories including eyewear retainers, ID badge holders, lanyards, key retainers, bottle holders, dog collars, leashes, tie downs, grab handles and ski and water sport accessories.
EK Ekcessories, Inc. is always full of exciting news and is appreciative for the publicity afforded to them through local venues such as The Herald Journal. EK Ekcessories has been recognized as an award winning American manufacturer, won Best of State in 2005, was identified as one of the fastest growing top 100 companies, received an industry standard award for P.O.P, #1 for on-time and accurate delivery from REI, won the 2003 Utah Best of State manufacturing award, Kalbach, was also a two time finalist for entrepreneur of the year.
EK Ekcessories will continually work to maintain a reputation of innovation and the production of pure U.S. made accessories.
For more information please contact Alana Ward, EK Ekcessories Public Relations at 800-338-2030 ext.31 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
EK EKCESSORIES WINS PERMANENT INJUCTION AGAINST CHISCO INC.
May 5, 2006 – In a Consent Judgment and Permanent Injunction entered on April 20, 2006, the United States District Court for the District of Utah has decreed that Chisco’s P2 Powercord with 3-Way Option eyewear retainer infringes on EK Ekcessories’ 3 Way Retainer Patent, specifically U.S. Patent No. 6,709,100. In particular, all members of the Chisco organization were permanently enjoined by the Court and are no longer able to manufacture, sell, offer to sell, use or import any P2 Powercord with 3 Way option eyeglass retainers or any other retainer that is substantially similar to the P2 Powercord with 3 Way Option until such time as the EK patent expires.
Chisco’s counterclaim asserting its own 3-way retainer patent against EK failed as the critical claims of that patent, U.S. Patent No. 6,746,177, were declared by the court to be invalid. Chisco’s other claims against EK were dismissed with prejudice.
EK Ekcessories President Ed Kalbach: “Going into this litigation I was confident that we would come out on top. EK always has and will continue to be the leading innovator for eyewear accessories and will continue to aggressively protect its intellectual property.”
EK MOTORSPORTS CHOSEN AS NEW SUPPLIER FOR PARTS UNLIMITED
Logan UT— October 16, 2006. Logan, Utah based EK Motorsports, a division of EK Ekcessories and a leading manufacturer for off-road accessories was recently chosen as a new supplier of motorcycle and ATV tie downs and power sport accessories for Parts Unlimited.
EK Motorsports tie downs and accessories are proudly made in the USA and feature revolutionary dual safety clips, more color choices than any other supplier in the industry and offer innovative merchandising options that appeal to consumers and increase sell through for power sport retailers. All tie downs are sold in pairs and are available in 39 different styles including cam buckle, ratchet tie downs, grab handles and winch straps for ATV’s and snowmobile necessity kits. Adjustable bungee straps are also be available for purchase through Parts Unlimited.
According to EK National Sales Manager Cort Saxton, “While EK has been in business for over 20 years, our motor sport division is still in its infancy. To have Parts Unlimited as a distributor for EK Motorsports this early in the game shows our dedication to designing quality, stylish performance based accessories is paying off.”
EK Ekcessories is an award winning manufacturer of outdoor, automotive, pet, safety/security accessories as well as an official licensee for Jeep and Parts Unlimited. For 21 years EK has been the name to retain for those demanding quality and performance based accessories. EK is enthused for this opportunity to progress within its specialty area of accessory expertise.
For more information on these products, or any others within EK’s line, please contact Alana Ward, EK Ekcessories Public Relations at 800-338-2030 ext.31 or at email@example.com
EK EKCESSORIES, THE TRUE ACCESSORY LEADER
Logan-UT EK Ekcessories is at the top of its game with 2006 being its best year ever! This past year will be the third year in a row EK has posted record sales growth. What makes EK stand out above all the rest?
EK’s commitment to innovation has made an obvious impact on the industry. EK has benefited greatly from its patented 3 way eyewear retainer series as they continue to produce double digit sales growth making it EK’s best selling style of retainer.
EK products are of the highest quality, outdoor dealers have not only found that our products are the hot buy but they have found EK offers a unique level of efficiency as all EK products, service and shipping is in the USA and on site. EK maintains a close watch on each and every operation necessary they sell, produce, ship and manage all within one single Logan, UT location.
EK Ekcessories, based in the beautiful state of Utah offers an immense advantage as their employees reside in Logan, UT they too are outdoor enthusiasts and have a great understanding and passion for the outdoors allowing their service to target a market they are vastly familiar with.
EK Ekcessories was first established as an outdoor company and though they are now actively accessorizing several other industries including outdoor, pet, private labeling, safety and security and motor sports, their roots, loyalty and service began with the innovation of the great outdoors and there it will remain. EK Ekcessories is still the accessory leader of the outdoor industry and will continue to create products for those who thrive in the outdoors.
EK Ekcessories established in 1985 and recognized as an award winning American manufacturer won Best of State in 2005, was identified as one of the fastest growing top 100 companies, received an industry standard award for P.O.P, a #1 award for on-time and accurate delivery from REI, won the 2003 Utah Best of State manufacturing award and EK’s president, Ed Kalbach, was a two time finalist for entrepreneur of the year. EK has been the name trusted by outdoor enthusiasts for over 20 years and promises to continue its history of success and service as they are the true accessory leader.
For more information on this product, or any others within EK’s line, please contact Lindy Phippen, Public Relations, at 800-338-2030 ext. 31 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
EK EKCESSORIES INTRODUCES THE CAT RATSHET HIGH PERFORMANCE TIE DOWN
Logan UT—EK Ekcessories maintains its innovative reputation with the introduction of the new Ratshet Cat. If you enjoy your motorcycle, ATV, utility vehicle or snowmobile as much as we do, you will want to insure its safety with EK’s trustworthy and durable new Ratshet Cat.
EK has proudly manufactured all its accessories in the USA for over 21 years. The Ratshet Cat dual clip soft tie down straps feature adjustable straps from 24” to 78”, a comfort handle, a large grab handle for easy length and adjustment, 1,200 lbs tensile strength, 1 1/8’ wide 100 percent nylon webbing, dual S-hooks with safety clips designed to keep the tie down strap connected and secure. Each tie down includes a soft tie option to prevent scratching at the point of contact. All tie downs are sold in pairs.
The Ratshet Cat is the perfect tie down for ATV’s, motorcycles, utility vehicles and snowmobiles. EK Ekcessories recognizes any motor purchase as a large investment and has taken this into consideration as EK has engineered a product that will not only secure your vehicle but will keep it looking as if you’ve only just bought it. EK cares about motor sporting and has worked vigorously to accessorize your sport with quality and dependability. Purchase the Ratshet Cat and you will feel as if you have invested in an insurance policy for your motor vehicle it’s that reliable! And with our exclusive wide array of patterns and colors you are sure to find a design that will capture your individuality. EK Motor Sport products are also available through Parts Unlimited.
For more information on these products, or any others within EK’s line, please contact Alana Ward, EK Ekcessories Public Relations at 800-338-2030 ext.31 or at email@example.com