Agent

Modern home fixtures born, raised in America

Part 1: The rise of household brands

(This is Part 1 of a two-part series. Read Part 2.) Aside from my usual grumbling about Hewlett Packard products, I seldom mention brand names in this column. Today, however, I'm going to mention a whole raft of them. Before I'm accused of selling out, though, let me say that none of the firms I mention have paid me to drop their names, nor so much as taken me out to lunch. However, just for future reference, I could probably be easily bribed with a nice fresh rhubarb pie. Today's building materials market is flooded with newcomer brands. While choice and competition are generally a good thing, the current galaxy of choices in the building field are largely among a whole raft of Johnny-Come-Lately manufacturers, many based overseas, whose main objective is simply to cash in on America's vast home-improvement market. This unpleasant fact ought to make consumers think twice before purchasing brands they've never heard of before, no matter how slickly advertised. Quite a few American bra...