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Posted on Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Meet the Apple accessories maker that manufactures in Ann Arbor, not overseas

By Katrease Stafford


Ann Arbor entrepreneur Mike Burns' Hand-e-holder device straps to the back of tablet computers like Apple's iPad, shown here, making it easier to hold the digital device.

Melanie Maxwell I

Despite the allure and cost benefits of making products in cheap foreign markets, Scio Township-based Hand-e-holder Products Inc. plans to continue manufacturing its iPad accessory in Michigan.

Most consumer electronics are made overseas, but Hand-e-Holder is assembling its product in Ann Arbor — with 95 percent of the components made in Michigan.

The firm, a sister company of Burns Computer Services, said it’s now sold “thousands” of units and is currently introducing its product to major retailers like Best Buy and Target in hopes of securing shelf space.

The company’s device straps to the back of tablet computers like Apple’s iPad, allowing the tablet to be held comfortably.

But, unlike Apple products, the Hand-e-Holder device is not made overseas.

“I’ve been called stupid for not building them offshore, but we’re going to keep making them here,” Hand-e-holder President Mike Burns said. “We made the choice to make them in Michigan because if you don’t make something here, there are no jobs for anybody.”

The company is assembling its device at its West Liberty Road headquarters. The device’s straps are made in Hillsdale, its locking mechanism is produced in Plymouth, its plate components are made in Saline and other components are made in Ann Arbor.

Burns said the idea for the new company came about by accident a year ago while he was at an event for Burns Computer Services.

“I had an iPad application I had written that we were going to be using at a running event to show runners how they finished,” he said. “I purchased the iPad and almost five minutes after purchasing it, I almost dropped it because it was very slick and very slippery. Thirty minutes later, I came up with the idea of a holding mechanism on the back of the iPad that would hold it in a very secure fashion and you wouldn’t be able to drop it. We had volunteers working with the iPads so we didn’t want them dropping $500 to $800 devices because they were slippery.”

After fashioning a makeshift holder at the event, Burns and his employees returned to their Ann Arbor office and created an improved version of the product.

“Necessity is the mother of invention,” he said. “I had a very clear vision of what I wanted to do with it and so we made it.”

The company currently employs seven workers but hopes to add more as sales momentum continues.

“We’re in the process of introducing this to a number of the mass retailers,” Burns said.

The company is currently selling its product through its website,, and in local Wireless Zone stores.

Whether they’re purchased online or at Wireless Zone, the prices remain the same, Burns said. The Hand-e-holder costs $39.99 and some of the other popular products such as leg strap kit costs $49.99.

Burns has seen interest from a variety of users, including doctors, pilots and the military. “We have the FBI who has purchased some, the federal government, the Army, the military and the Census Bureau,” he said. “People purchase them for any device where they want to have a simple way to hold their products securely. Anyone that has touched and used it has seen how versatile and comfortable it is.”

Burns believes Hand-e-holder has an advantage because its accessory does not need to be changed to fit new versions of tablets. Many Apple accessory makers, for example, have to tweak their products every time a new device is released.

Katrease Stafford is a freelance reporter for



Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 6:15 p.m.

I work for Mike so I'll put my bias right out front. That said, it's truly motivating to work for someone who is committed to manufacturing in the U.S. That was actually a key factor in my decision to join the Hand-e-holder team. I've heard people say that as a consumer every purchase we make is a vote. I vote for getting my home state of Michigan back to helpful product at a time.

Terrin Bell

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

The sad thing is companies like Walmart encourage manufactures like this to move manufacturing overseas. Further, our laws currently favor moving operations overseas. Companies like truly are Patriots. Patriots look out for their own.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.

Mike Burns is a patriot. If even half the businesspeople in the US were more like him, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in. So big thanks to Mike for sticking with Made in America and Made in Michigan. And whoever called him stupid for not making these products "offshore?" Shame on you.

Dr. Rockso

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Of course he's not one of Ricks rich buddies. He's manufacturing in Michigan. Rick would have outsourced to China.

Mike K

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:37 p.m.

I'm surprised that the left hasn't labeled this guy one of Snyder's rich buddies who is profiting off the backs of the poor and elderly.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:22 p.m.

Patty: The left clearly complains about companies making profits and not giving everything they make to the govt and to the employees.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

Wow. Your understanding of "the left" is really faulty. It's "the left" that is supporting American manufacturing, union labor, fair wages, and the middle class. "The left" does not support outsourcing to cheap labor countries.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

I'm sure its coming and will be allowed just as I'm pretty sure will delete your comment directed at the left just like they do mine.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:23 p.m.

Manufacturing is possible in America if you don't listen to MBAs... and don't have to pay them. Though simplifying federal taxes like Gov. Snyder has done for state business taxes sure wouldn't hurt. Always good to see someone bucking conventional wisdom and winning. And seriously, people who complain about the price of these things probably can't afford the iPad they're made for.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 2:14 p.m.

I have purchased a couple of these devices and I love them. I am not a fan of the iPad but this is one of the few products that I have found that also will work on my Android tablet (Zoom) as well as my Kindle. The Hand-E-Holder is so comfortable that I forget I have it on and I have yet to drop my tablet. I do a lot of traveling and use my tablet to give presentations to clients. This device allows me to easily rotate and display the information so that we don't have to all stand huddled around the desk or setup some external display. One simple feature that I use all of the time is the clear block that comes with the holder that allows me to set my tablet down on the desk and it rest at a very comfortable angle…kind of like a kickstand for a bike. As for "made in the USA" I say thank you! It is nice to have such an innovative product, made 100% in America and best of all…in Michigan!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

Hand-e-holder is really cool - highly recommended for iPad owners that need to carry around or hold up their devices.

Mumbambu, Esq.

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:50 p.m.

Yea, but it covers up the Apple logo! That defeats the whole point ;)

David Paris

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:01 p.m.

Awesome, . You win Post-of-the-Day!


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

It is wonderful that these people recognize that without well paid customers they will have no customers. We need more people like this in MI, concerned for more than just the bottom line, concerned about actually creating jobs that produce economic growth.

Wolf's Bane

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:31 a.m.

I could see waiters also using these devices on large serving trays. Nice work Mr. Burns.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11:03 a.m.

I am glad you are local and hope you take care of your people. You need any help?


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 11 a.m.

At that price and for what it is, it's no wonder only government employees are buying them.

David Paris

Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 1:03 p.m.

It's ok if people don't want to spend $40 to save a $500 dollar product, no one is forcing them to buy it.


Fri, Aug 5, 2011 : 12:41 p.m.

Yes, those pesky overpaid govt employees. Not like those underpaid Borders CEO's.