Posts Tagged ‘green housing’

InfoTube, The Hillman Group and China

Thursday, May 26, 2011 posted by tommi

I am very happy to report that the public outcry about outsourcing American products, specifically Infotube and Infobox, to China has been encouraging, enlightening, motivating and best of all…it may be working to save jobs and keep American made products on the shelves.

As a result of your emails, calls, petitions, Facebook posts, etc. some strange things have happened.  We have been contacted by a US Senator, offering his assistance.  We have been interviewed on radio news and talk shows and our story has shown up in print across the country.   And, we still have our fingers crossed that we might receive a call from Diane Sawyer and ABC news about our story and products. 

If you haven’t told Diane and ABC what your favorite American products are, click this LINK and do so, today!  Please don’t forget to mention InfoTube and InfoBox!   

Perhaps, the most surprising outcome, so far, has been our two discussions with senior management at The Hillman Group.  Surprising, because it is happening at all.  Surprising, again, because we are each sharing information and I feel that everyone is sincere about wanting to reach a resolution. 

Rest assured that we won’t give up the fight until we hear that Crow Erickson will continue to sell Infotubes and InfoBoxes to our major d-i-y retail customers, like we have done for nearly two decades.

Sadly, during our meeting yesterday, Hillman management confirmed  that they have shipped some of the Chinese copycat product…identifible by its Yellow lid…to Home Depot, Lowes and Menards.   The retailers, in turn, hung it up in the sign department where the InfoTube and InfoBox used to proudly hang.  

Please ask for InfoTube and InfoBox by name at the store!!  Simply, refuse to purchase the Chinese Yellow Lid product.  You know what is at stake and your money is counted as your vote. 

A concerned consumer may have said it best in their reply to an email they received from the Hillman Group. 

“See, we American voters may truly be powerless, but we American consumers are not.  We are fed up watching big corporations, like yours, screw American businesses, and so if you think this lame email has calmed me, you are wrong.  I am just getting started.”  Cynn Chadwick

If you have a problem finding our products in the stores, you can purchase through our secure our website or through one of our valued, loyal internet vendors….many of whom took action on our behalf…even though by doing so, they face more sales competition.

Thank you again for your support, your comments and your encouragement.  If this little company can find a way to beat the competition over in communist China…then, so can other companies!  

Buy American and Support your Homeland!!!  We aren’t anti-chinese…we are just Pro-American!

Tommi Crow

President, Crow Erickson Inc.  1854A Hendersonville Rd #221 – Asheville, NC  28803.  1-800-858-6000

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I was interviewed on Clear Channel News this morning about our Fight to Save our Company and American jobs from the chinese, copycat imports of InfoBox that are being brought into the US by The Hillman Group, distributors for Lowes, Home Depot and Menards.

After the radio interview, we received a call from Senator Richard Burr’s (R) office to inquire about our story.   The Senator’s office is looking into the matter to determine how they can help.   Thank you, Senator Burr!

Tommi Crow radio interview on Jameson show

I would like to say a BIG thank you to Jerri Jameson at WWNC News Radio 570 for having us on her show this morning.  

Thanks for following our story and for your support!  Please continue to sign our petition and send emails to Lowes, Home Depot and Menardsn telling them that InfoTube and InfoBox SHOULD NOT be replaced with chinese imports.

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National Home Improvement Stores Outsource American Jobs to China    Home Depot, Lowe’s vendor ignores U.S. patents, outsources popular INFOBOX®  

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (May 10, 2011)—Recently, Hillman Group, vendor to national DIY home-improvement retail giants Lowe’s, Home Depot, and Menards, replaced the store’s popular American-made INFOTUBE® and INFOBOX® products with Chinese factory replicas. 

INFOTUBE® literature boxes were invented 23 years ago in a garage in Dallas, TX, to provide Realtors®, builders and homeowners with an affordable way to sell their homes. Today, millions of these patented real-estate literature boxes are being used in neighborhoods across America. 

In March, Hillman informed Crow Erickson it was replacing INFOTUBE® and INFOBOX® products effective immediately, leaving thousands of boxes stranded on the docks and effectively closing the doors of the Asheville, NC-based manufacturer and inventor. Caplugs® factory jobs in Erie, PA and Buffalo, NY will also be affected, two areas already hard hit in this economy. 

Crow Erickson’s patent attorney has inspected the Chinese product, currently available on Home Depot’s website, and it does appear to be copy of the INFOBOX® design, something Hillman insiders have conceded. The Chinese knockoff provides no cost savings to the consumer. 

This is not the first time Hillman has ignored U.S. patents and put American jobs in jeopardy, including the hundreds of disabled and handicapped American workers that Crow Erickson has employed at competitive wages in partnership with vocational rehabilitation centers.

 In the 1990s, Hillman tried to outsource INFOTUBE® products, a patent violation against which Crow Erickson took legal action. The settlement required Hillman to renew its contract for INFOTUBE® and agree not to compete in its product niche. 

Apparently Hillman is banking on the rising cost of lawsuits to deter the small, woman-owned business from pursuing legal remedy this time around. 

Crow Erickson has made numerous direct appeals to the Hillman Group and senior management at Lowe’s and Home Depot, citing its 20+ year successful partnership, patent concerns, and a desire to work with all parties for a mutually beneficial and cost-competitive resolution. 

To date, Crow Erickson has not been able to engage Hillman, Lowe’s or Home Depot in any meaningful discussion and has been left with no recourse other than pursue costly legal action or close its doors and watch another American-made product fall victim to Chinese factories. 

Crow Erickson is currently launching a public media campaign to save American jobs. More information can be found on and the company’s blog. INFOTUBE® is also sponsoring an online petition to save American jobs from export to China which can be viewed and signed on The Petition Site at Help-Save-American-Jobs.


Tommi Crow

President, Crow Erickson, Inc.

800-858-6000 (o) 828-230-2260 (cel)

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A Green Fix for the Current Real Estate Mess

Wednesday, February 2, 2011 posted by tommi

  More than 150 years ago, America’s greatest landscape architect, Frederick Law Olmsted, created Central Park and changed New York forever. He went on to transform dozens more cities, leaving a priceless legacy of vibrant, beautiful cityscapes. And, in the process, he increased property values. 

Olmsted discovered this himself when he tracked the value of land around Central Park and found that the city’s $13 million investment had led to an astounding $209 million increase in just 17 years. The architect recognized what many planners still fail to grasp: Parks and managed green space are vital pieces of urban infrastructure that not only improve the quality of life for millions of people but also drive economic growth. 

Today we must act again to transform our cities. The commercial real estate binge of the past decade and the growth of online shopping as an alternative to brick-and-mortar stores have left more than 200,000 acres of vacant retail, office and industrial space. Residential real estate is a massive problem as well.  Distressed properties are a drag on our communities and the economy, and threaten to topple even more banks that hold mortgages on these “toxic assets.”   We need to move these toxic assets off the banks’ books, reduce the surplus of commercial space and create jobs, all while revitalizing our cities. This brings us back to Olmsted.  

Olmsted designed transformative parks, campuses and greenways; his firm completed an amazing 6,000 commissions and launched a green wave across 19th-century America. The same kind of wave could help resolve the 21st-century real estate mess.  We don’t have the luxury of vacant land that Olmsted often started with, so we must bulldoze underperforming and underused property, put people to work creating parks on some of the land and “bank” the rest until the economy recovers. 

Beginning with Atlanta, Georgia Tech is researching what is needed to accomplish this in 12 major cities. The project is known as Red Fields to Green Fields. Under this plan, some of the abandoned or underutilized property would be acquired by a parks agency or by public-private partnerships, which would then begin demolition, park design and construction, putting people to work immediately. More jobs would come as the improved areas attracted development.

 This would not be the first time that property has been bulldozed for economic gain. The railroads, which had many miles of underused track to maintain, pulled up 55 percent of their tracks in the past 60 years to increase profitability, enabling the creation of 19,000 linear miles of “rails-to-trails” parks. 

Pittsburgh, realizing that the steel industry was never coming back, tore down riverfront steel mills and replaced them with an attractive mix of parks and office space. In Michigan, Flint and Detroit are finding ways to “bank” land as open space.   The banking system and the federal government could play an important role in this effort. Rather than backstop bad real estate paper, the Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) and the Treasury Department could help finance the acquisition of excess commercial real estate through a land bank fund. 

Instead of buying mortgage-backed securities, why couldn’t the Fed buy excess developed real estate to be held as green space through “land-backed securities”? Why couldn’t the FDIC give some of the useless properties it obtains through bank closures to land banks or nonprofit organizations?   With the right financing structure, philanthropic entrepreneurs could use leverage to remake America just as some of our bad developers used easy bank financing to help create the excesses.   

Acquisition money could also come from expanding tax incentives that encourage banks and landlords to donate land and encourage wealthy individuals and corporations to buy conservation tax credits. Georgia Tech’s analysis has also shown that the money needed for a nationwide program would be a tiny fraction of current real estate support programs, such as the Fed’s “quantitative easing” or its recent purchase of $1.5 trillion in mortgages. 

The 2009 stimulus package did much to protect jobs but little to stimulate the economy with transformational investments.  Converting underused commercial real estate to green space and “banked” land would be transformational. It would create jobs, strengthen the banking system to encourage lending and stabilize property values so that real estate owners would be ready to spend again. Most important, lush new parks would enhance neighborhoods across the country. 

Michael G. Messner is a Wall Street investment fund manager. He and his wife, Jenny, funded the documentary “The Olmsted Legacy,” which is airing on PBS, and are funding the Red Fields to Green Fields research at Georgia Tech. thinks that Mr Olmstead and Mr. Messner may be on to something here.   We will follow this topic and update you with further developments.

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We have the latest tails from the frontlines of the gulf coast oil spill, as it relates to real estate.  Read what agents, brokers, consultants and property owners are saying today.  CLICK HERE!

Thank you for visiting  We have helped thousands of people market their homes with our flat fee MLS program or our List Until Sold option.  We can help you, too!!

A great new product from Fulcrum Products that provides security lighting where you need it, without hardwiring.  The attractive security light installs in minutes using only a screwdriver and the included hardware.  Anyone can do it…even me.

Product Description:

Brighten a dim porch, carport, childrens play area, stairwell or garage without needing to flip a light switch with this unobtrusive motion sensor LED porch light from Fulcrum Products. Upon detecting movement within a 100-degree angle and a 25-foot range, the 6-volt light switches on and stays illuminated until the sensor detects no motion for a solid 30 seconds. The six LED panel rotates to enable its cool blue light to illuminate the darkest areas. During the daytime, the sensor light’s photo cells prevent the light activation. The porch light is weather-proof for inclement weather. Easy to install, the light requires no hardwiring and comes with necessary mounting hardware. Four separately purchased C batteries are needed to power the light. The porch light measures 5-1/2 by 5-1/2 by 5-1/2 inches and weighs 1 pound.

The LED light bulbs will last for 100,000 hours and the 4 “C” type batteries last up to a year.  The product retails for around $25.  Brighten up your world today.

Thank you for visiting  Our flat fee MLS packages and List Until Sold packages reach millions of buyers each day for very little cash.  If you need to sell a home, you can’t find a better value or better company to assist you!

This week we look to blog, as it focuses on the impact that the gulf oil spill from a real estate perspective.   

Today, we take a look at the events that have already affected thousands of gulf coast property owners.  We will conclude our series with expert predictions about what will likely follow in years to come…


Thank you for visiting  We have helped thousands of property owners successfully market their properties…while saving thousands in commissions and fee’s.   There are alternatives and we can help you, too!!

What Fickle Home Buyers Want…Today

Thursday, May 27, 2010 posted by tommi

 Homebuyers are a fickle bunch.   Thousands recently weighed in on everything from the macro (such as access to nearby parks) to the micro (walk-in closets).  Five things to know about what real estate consumers want — or want less than they used to:

1. The elaborate clubhouse that is a fixture in many subdivisions has lost its appeal, as have community association-run swimming pools, health clubs and golf courses, said Cardis, who reports that consumers think of these things as “tradable” items — they’re basically indifferent to whether these amenities come with the deal.

“I think that’s all economically driven,” he said. “If you were to do a survey of homeowner-association fee increases in the past 24 months, there would be a high percentage that have shortfalls and are raising their fees by significant amounts, sometimes doubling them.”

One neighborhood amenity, though, that scored high desirability in the study: walking paths.

2.  Green is good — and getting better.

“I was very surprised,” Cardis said. “I had been hearing that green (home features) aren’t quite here yet, that people aren’t willing to pay for them. But frankly, I was stunned by the increase in demand. This is our fourth year (of this particular study), and we’re seeing an increase every year.

“The magnitude of desire (for environmentally friendly home features) is high, considered a must in some categories,” he said.

Among the consumer-described environmental “must haves”: energy-efficient windows, appliances and insulation. “Desirable” features included recycled building materials, “green” flooring, and tankless water heaters that consume less energy by heating water on demand.

3.  Kitchens haven’t lost an iota of importance to buyers, Cardis said. In particular, consumers voiced a preference for “big” kitchens, though it’s not clear how big is “big.”

“I think that’s the biggest limitation of the study, that the perception of what is large or energy-efficient isn’t defined, and we’re planning to do more on that,” he said. “But they do want a sizeable kitchen, relative to the house, and that’s the important takeaway, rather than (consumers saying), ‘Not really, I don’t need that.’ ”

But within that kitchen, it had better have a freestanding island — 41 percent called it a “must” and 38 percent said they really wanted one.

4.  Consumer tastes are changing on how they’d prefer to bathe, Cardis said.

“Whirlpool baths are something they’re definitely ready to let go of,” he said. “They put them in and (the tubs just) sit. People use them once every two years.”

Instead, plain old soaker tubs in the master bath got a warm response in the survey, though the greater preference now is for oversized showers with seating, he said.

5.  Other “outs” or borderline interests: home theaters, traditional living rooms and dining rooms, mud rooms, hobby/game rooms.

“Musts” or at least, objects of strong desirability: granite countertops, home-office space, fireplace, two-car garage.

Article written by Dian Hymer of Inman News.

Thank you for visiting  Our $299 “List Until Sold” marketing program reaches 10 million home buyers a month.   Serious homesellers should visit our website to learn more about this unique marketing opportunity.

5 Fun and Easy Projects for Earthday!

Thursday, April 22, 2010 posted by tommi

In celebration of Earth Day, offers 5 fun and easy idea’s that perserve our environment and better the wonderful planet we all live on!! 

Plant a Tree.   As the date also roughly coincides with U.S. Arbor Day, over time Earth Day has taken on the role of tree-planting.   Planting trees helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, cleans pollution, secures soil in place to prevent erosion, and provides homes for a lot of biodiversity.

Build or Put up a Birdhouse.  Get together with your family and build a birdhouse or make a bird feeder to encourage the local bird population, which plays an important role in every ecosystem. Use objects that would’ve otherwise been thrown away to create beautiful works of art…Here, the possibilities are endless…

Reduce, reuse and recycle all day long.  Buy as little as possible and avoid items that come in lots of packaging. Support local growers and producers of food and products – these don’t have to travel as far and so reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Take your drink container with you, and don’t use any disposable plates or cutlery.  Recycle all the things you do use for the day or find other uses for things that you no longer use.  Carry a cloth bag for carrying things in and recycle your plastic bags.

Get children to recycle their old toys and games.   By giving their old toys and games to younger children who could make use of them, older children learn two lessons:  One is about giving to others and the second is about reusing and recycling instead of throwing things away.  Adults can also do this with clothes, electrical items, books and more.  Learn about product exchange communities like Freecycle and other alternatives.

Pick up the Trash. Rid litter from our roadways. Many groups use the weekend of Earth Day to clear roadways, highways and neighborhood streets of litter that has accumulated since the last clean-up day. Many companies donate gloves and bags for clean-up groups and villages organize bag pick ups. Once the group has collected the trash and placed the recycled bags along the road, get the village public works department to pick the bags up. It’s a wonderful community project. Great for scout troops, rotary clubs and the like. would like to remind our readers that every day is Earth Day.  We are doing our part to improve the planet and we encourage you to do the same.   Every effort makes a Big Difference!   and a big thank you to Wikipedia for this information contained in this article.

Landscape Affects Buyer’s Moods and Home Sales

Tuesday, April 20, 2010 posted by tommi

    Most home buyers believe they should focus on the interior features of houses more than the landscape, but the truth is, that buyers will not get out of the car if the front landscape lacks interest and upkeep.  The landscape  and curb appeal should arouse the buyer’s interest and lure them inside to view the interior.

To get the highest return on your landscape dollar, utilize the principles found in Landscape Design Psychology.  Landscape Psychology is based upon scientific research into the effects that the landscape has on home buyers.   These proven idea’s will help your home sell faster, and for more money, by working on buyer emotions and senses.

The Power of Color

Coordinate the colors of your flowering foliage.  Consider your selling season and plant flowers that perform well during that period.  Use plants that support your atmosphere and climate.   Also, use no more than 3 colors to give continuity and form to your landscape.

Colors also have psychological power.  Green suggests freshness, coolness and vitality.   White shows up at night and conjures feelings of cleanliness.   Yellow is the first color our eye processes, so a spot of yellow by the front door will draw the eye to your entrance.   Red, yellow and Orange are all Hot colors, which excite and pick up the mood of any weary house hunter. Landscape is a great website for the average homeowner.   The site provides idea’s and advice from professionals including a plant selector, great photographs, color scheme screener, DIY tutorials and helpful tips about hedges, fences, sidewalks, lawns and more.

Another great resource for help in creating an outdoor paradise can be found at HGTV.   

The Power of Smell

Realtors advise sellers to bake cookies or burn vanilla candles before showings or Open Houses because a comforting and pleasant aroma has the power to influence minds and moods.

In addition to color psychology, smart home owners give thought to the use of scents when planting a landscape.  They take advantage of the power of smell, especially near pathways and entry doors, that provoke a desired emotional response.  

A few inexpensive and easy to grow suggestions that add a touch of scent to any landscape include lemon scented geraniums, jasmine, rosemary, lavender, basil, roses, hostas, honeysuckle, gardenia or heliotrope.   In addition to providing months of enjoyment, many of these plants perform in a vareity of places such window boxes, planters, planting beds, hanging baskets or pathways.

When it comes to selling homes, a smart psychology landscape design can give you a huge advantage over your competition.   If buyers feel good while they look at your home, it is more likely to sell quickly and for top dollar.

Thank you for visiting   Our clients are receiving more buyer traffic and higher offers than we have seen in the last 2 years.  If you aren’t listed on the MLS, and major real estate sites, you are missing 10 MILLION buyers who are searching for a home every month.  Call us at 1-800-381-9496 for help in marketing your home!