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June 29, 2015 | From Kansas via Colorado to Phoenix

Today, Tuesday, we have an appointment with R&D/Leverage in Lee's Summit. Bob Schiavone Global Marketing Director and CEO Todd Riley, and the management team are already waiting for us. Thus begins an interesting excursion through the history of this mould manufacturing company, its growth and the product range today. To conclude our discussions, we are given a guided tour of the whole plant including R&D/Leverage‘s Design Department. Before taking our leave, Rolf takes a group photo in front of our tour display in the driveway of R&D/Leverage and with that, we make our way to our hotel.

We are not doing any more driving today, as it is already evening and our appointment next day in Lenexa is only 30kms away. We eat in our new favourite restaurant Applebee's for dinner and go through next day’s programme. The Editourmobil is no longer part of the tour, and with it the delights of home cooking, but Applebee's (as well as other temples of fine cuisine) are a more than adequate substitute!

It is Wednesday and we are comfortably settled with Tim Ehinger, VP Sales & Marketing and Ralph Maser, the owner of Amerigo Laboratories in Lenaxa. This small company specialises in the bottling of premium healthcare drinks. With its small quantities of PET bottles from Italy, where the filling and mixing plant come from, this young company is planning steady growth. Tim and Ralph are therefore highly delighted to be welcoming a visit from an internationally renowned specialist magazine! We conclude proceedings by enjoying a bottle of the company’s new product "Stress Relief" before Rolf and I have to get back on the road again, this time to Colorado, more specifically to Louisville.

What is abundantly clear is that after our visit to Amerigo Labs, the 1,000km journey ahead of us would be much too stressful, so we decide to head for Colby just before the Colorado border. We book a room in a small hotel close to the highway. Once checked in, we set off in search of something to eat. The road takes us to a place boasting numerous restaurants. On starting up the hire car, a light on the dashboard display advises us that the rear left tyre needs air and even shows us the pressure in the other tyres. Amazing, I think to myself, the amount of information on the modern dashboard display. We pull up at the nearest petrol station to pump up the offending tyre and then hasten towards a fast food outlet, which is apparently the final opportunity to get something to eat this evening.

The next morning off we go again. A quick visual examination of the tyre prior to departing reveals nothing untoward. When we start, however, the dashboard display indicates that the tyre pressure is below that of the other tyres.We have no choice but to take the car to a garage. No sooner said than done. Once there, the problem is rapidly diagnosed, a small piece of metal has caused the puncture. To our astonishment, the tyre is immediately replaced by the efficient mechanics and within 15 minutes we are back on the road to Louisville, where we finally arrive in the afternoon. The evening is spent on our laptops, after which we eat at a nearby Mexican restaurant offering incredible portions for not very much money.

It is Friday and the final appointment is upon us. At water bottlers Eldorado Artesian Springs, we meet Jeremy Martin, Vice President of the company. As a mainly local bottler of spring water Eldorado uses among others PET bottles made from 100% recycled material. After discussions and a tour of the facilities, Jeremy presents us with a sample of their water, together with two free tickets for the nearby Eldorado Resort, an open air swimming pool at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. And although we are a bit pushed for time, we indulge ourselves with a short visit to the resort with thermometer showing around 35 degrees outside.

Our journey to Phoenix takes us past Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. The further south we go, the hotter it gets. Finally, the mercury climbs up to about 45° C.Actually, another appointment was scheduled with a bottler in Las Vegas, but in the time window available to us, we simply cannot make it, unfortunately. Well, postponed maybe but not abandoned. With a myriad of impressions in our minds, we drive the 1,300 km to our destination, and hand back the hire car, which proved a reliable replacement for the broken down Editourmobil. We step aboard the plane and head for home.

Overall, this part of the tour brought us a colourful mix of different companies, from both the manufacturing and end user side. I must here express our gratitude for the support of the companies visited, the friendly welcome we received everywhere and the valuable information that you have given us! Before we embark on the third and final part of the tour, we are taking a little (summer) break, after which publishing director Alexander Büchler will be personally visiting the west coast as the North American road show continues from mid-September to late October.

Sincerely,

Kay Barton,
Tour Project Manager