The sharpest knives in the drawer

Zippy profile of Oxo in the LATimes.

“We do a lot of shopping, we do a lot of talking to consumers and chefs,” Sohn said. “We do consumer testing, we do a lot of surveys, we talk to people we know, people our sales reps know, all over the country.”

Oxonians also apparently do a lot of yelling. Sohn said product meetings among the staff can be brutal, in a culture where criticism is not just encouraged but venerated.

Surprisingly, what Oxo does not do is design. The staff is made up of product managers and engineers, all focusing on the idea end. They then work with nine industrial design firms, including two in Japan, to translate pie-cutter-in-the-sky notions into eminently usable gadgets.

“The ideas of what to make and what features to offer come from here,” Lee said, then designers at companies such as Smart Design in New York and Bally in Pittsburgh do the rest.


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