Thinking outside the box can turn an “oops” into an opportunity. That’s what happened in 1938 when Mannington discovered the secret of…a kiss.
It all started one day when Kenneth Campbell arrived late to work after dropping his kids off at school. Racing into Mannington’s plant to inspect a new felt-base vinyl pattern test run, he discovered that a color change had been made without his knowledge. The results were not good. To make matters worse, when Kenneth reached for the original sample to make a color comparison, he found it stuck toa piece of unprinted vinyl had been accidently placed atop it. After prying them apart Kenneth looked at the sample, then set both pieces aside and left.
Later, Neil Campbell (Kenneth’s brother) arrived on the scene and spotted those two pieces of flooring. He noticed that both had the same design on them, although only one piece had been run through the printing press. This had never happened before.
In that serendipitous moment, Mannington’s “kiss” transfer printing process was discovered.
60 days later, Neil (a college-trained engineer) and Bill Harris (the head of Mannington’s maintenance department) had developed a new flatbed printer to duplicate this “accident.” Their intention? Increase productivity and profitability by printing one piece of flooring but yielding two finished pieces instead.
To perform the “kiss,” one piece of felt-base was printed with a pattern in a variety of colors. A plain piece of felt-base was pressed against it, then lifted off. Although a simple process in theory, this required a delicate touch with the right amount of paint and proper adjustment of machinery to complete the transfer.
Using the “kiss” transfer printing process, Mannington debuted its new line of Manitex felt-base products in 1939. To protect the invention, Neil secured an 18-year patent–a wise move since competitors tried repeatedly to duplicate the process (yet none ever could).
The “kiss” transfer printing process was a true innovation that gave Mannington an edge in the flooring industry. With it, the company was able to increase its bottom line, plus provide employment for Mannington workers and financial stability for the company for the four decades.
Moral of the story? Sometimes accidents happen and you’re glad they did.