Black & Decker Inc. cheered for Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart liked the sound so much it ''converted'' Black & Decker.In both cases, the results were more U.S.-made products in Wal-Mart stores.
The story begins two years ago. Black & Decker's household products division wanted to double the number of toaster oven sales from its Asheboro, N.C., plant to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
When Wal-Mart executives toured the plant, Black & Decker workers stopped the production line and broke out into the Wal-Mart cheer, renaming the hyphen into a squiggly:
''W-A-L-Squiggly-M-A-R-T,'' they bellowed. ''What's that spell? Wal-Mart. Who's number one? The customer.''
Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, uses the cheer during meetings at its retail outlets and at shows to inspire company loyalty. The well-prepared Black & Decker workers reasoned their vocal enthusiasm could help convince Wal-Mart executives.
Using more normal tones, Black & Decker officials told Wal-Mart executives they were ''underdeveloped'' with U.S.-made toaster ovens, recounts Todd Ensor, sales director for Black & Decker's household products in Shelton, Conn.
Since then, Wal-Mart has increased its sales of Black & Decker's U.S.-made toasters by more than 50 percent. Mr. Ensor declines to provide specifics.
After that, Wal-Mart buyers challenged Black & Decker to transfer its China food steamer operation to the United States, again to bring a U.S. product home. Black & Decker had outsourced the manufacturing to the giant Asian nation.
Since Black & Decker and Wal-Mart have a ''great relationship,'' Black & Decker converted, Mr. Ensor said.
The firm brought the food steamer production to its Asheboro plant, the only facility for the company's household products.
In July, Black & Decker started shipping the Flavor Scenter Food Steamer exclusively to Wal-Mart.
''We each met the challenge,'' Mr. Ensor said.