Viante on The Advance
By David Gill
Jim McCusker has the distinction of starting and building two significant players in the housewares business.
In 1980, he began De'Longhi's U.S. division. From its initial product line of heaters, he developed De'Longhi U.S.A. into a vendor of small electrics, including coffeemakers, espresso makers and toasters, among other products.
Shortly after his retirement as president of De'Longhi USA in 2008, he and his wife, Mary, founded Viante Home Products Co. In the succeeding five years, the McCuskers have built the product line to include a variety of small electrics and home-comfort products.
The 2013 International Home + Housewares Show in March saw a major roster of new product launches from Viante. After the show, McCusker said, "Retailers were thrilled to see the newness in the Viante booth."
Among the company's key launches were the Viante Bibo, described by McCusker as "a food-prep appliance that also cooks." The Bibo cooks, stews, boils, chops and minces, steams, blends, mills, grinds and crushes, among other functions, and works with any kind of food. It is programmable with electronic touch controls for time, temperature and mix speed, and has four preprogrammed recipes for pasta, risotto, soup and pudding.
With another launch, Viante is looking to advance a well-established European method of cooking called sous vide to these shores. Called the Viante Sous Vide Cooker, the product cooks vacuum-packed food in boiling water. "This Viante unit offers major benefits over existing sous vide cookers in that it circulates the water, accurately controls the temperature and is totally visible during the cooking process."
Viante also unveiled the Intellisteam Cooker. This unit features three compartments, each with its own digital controls, thus enabling the home cook to prepare different types of food for one meal, all at the same time. "Each compartment can be programmed for the perfect time for cooking," McCusker said.
In addition to the new products, McCusker said Viante has become a "major source" for pasta makers. "We will continue to grow that category," he said. The company has also established a presence for its grill and toaster-oven, he stated.
Outside of the kitchen, Viante also introduced a new lineup of ceramic heaters. This line includes tower units and products for the floor and the tabletop. "These units are fully featured with remote controls, multiple safety devices, oscillation, etc.," McCusker said.
The results from the March Housewares Show, the company's fifth overall, indicate that Viante is continuing to gain traction as a housewares supplier. "The booth was constantly busy as I had done a lot of preshow guerrilla marketing about the new products we would be launching," McCusker said. "We were visited by all the top retailers and received some commitments at the show."
Results from the annual event showed that Viante is moving forward with a focus on making innovative products, McCusker said. "Over the years, there were times when I'd hear remarks (from buyers) like, 'I didn't see anything new,'" he said. "This was not something we heard after buyers visited our booth."