CIRAS Helps Rada Manufacturing Sharpen Its Marketing

A Waverly cutlery manufacturer expects to see more than $1 million in new sales after CIRAS helped the company analyze its changing market and launch new initiatives during the heart of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Rada Manufacturing Company, which has been making knives for fundraising groups and small retail operations since 1948, sought out CIRAS for help after noticing some “softness” in the company’s traditional fundraising business. 

“It was still performing, but we were just working harder and harder to find new 4-H clubs or new church groups or marching bands,” said Phil Jones, Rada’s vice president and general manager. “And we weren’t seeing growth in other areas.” 

CIRAS project manager C.J. Osborn used primary and secondary market research to confirm that there was still room in the multibillion-dollar fundraising and retail markets for Rada to grow. It was just a matter of focusing the company’s efforts in the right direction. 

“They just needed to think of themselves relative to the competitors in those two distinct markets,” Osborn said. “Having better visibility of the industry they’re serving helped them understand their strengths and weaknesses and how those things should factor into the initiatives they planned to launch.” 

Noting strong growth among online retailers during the pandemic, Rada expanded its efforts to sell directly to consumers, as well as increasing its support for other small online retailers. Jones said the company also tweaked its fundraising offerings and moved more of that business online, making it easier for fundraising groups to sell through dedicated Internet portals. 

“Instead of having two main channels, now the future looks a little more balanced—fundraising, resellers, and our own e-commerce storefront where we’re selling right to the customer,” he said. 

Jones praised Osborn’s willingness to work on Rada’s timetable and partner with company officials as they tried to reorient themselves during the heart of the pandemic. Osborn also provided valuable analytical tools and frameworks to help Rada look at its future in the correct way. 

CIRAS helped give the company the new perspective that it needed, Jones said.  

“CIRAS helped us pause and take stock of where we were as a company,” Jones said. “You had the background and experience necessary to step in and help us feel more confident about the decisions we’re making for the future.” 

For more information, contact C.J. Osborn at or 641-840-0505.