LAKELAND, Fla. — A small time Lakeland business might soon be going big.
Granny Jo Products, which has been in business since 2005, will be pitching their line to Walmart next month.
And if they are chosen, it could bring money and steady jobs to the disabled community in Polk County.
“My grandma had Alzheimer’s and she couldn’t figure out what to do with her other hand,” James Tilghman, the head of Granny Jo Products, said.
He says the great idea to serve the senior community came when he was trying to make his own grandmother comfortable.
When looking for items to ease his grandmother’s pains of aging, Tilghman said he either couldn’t find what he was looking for, items were too expensive or not made very well.
So, he came up with a solution and made his own products.
“What we did is we developed a two handle mug for her so she could have a coffee and a regular mug,” Tilghman said.
Since then, Granny Jo Products have taken a life of their own.
“We have about 50 different items, we have a number of different categories: nappy clips, that’s our top selling item, a clip that converts a napkin or towel into a bib,” he said.
And they’re all made inside a discreet warehouse facility in Lakeland.
Inside are workers who take pride in coming to work at Alliance for Independence.
“They provide job opportunities for people with disabilities,” he said.
Behind each sewing machine, you’ll find a smiling face, who’s excited to make items that someone will buy.
“I work these fingers hard!” one worker told ABC Action News.
The director for Alliance for Independence said the sewing positions are the high-paid job on site for the disabled workers.
Soon, they could have even more items to prepare for shipment.
“Last week we were selected by Walmart to go pitch our ‘Made in USA’ products to the main office in Bentonville, Arkansas,” Tilghman said.
Tilghman and his mother presented their first sales pitch in Brandon, where they were selected to move on to their final pitch on June 13.
If selected, it will not only mean big business for Granny Jo Products, but steady jobs for AFI workers.
“The key thing for us is that it will provide jobs for clients of AFI that do the manufacturing for us,” he said.