For an air purifier maker, a "Made in the U.S.A" sticker was the secret sales ingredient--in China.

Peter Mann, who founded Oransi in 2009, started off selling purifiers for about $250 each in the U.S. With an eye on costs, he had them manufactured in China.

Mann says sales were growing slowly and steadily. He wanted to propel growth by selling air purifiers in China, capitalizing on concerns about air quality there.

To sell his wares, Mann says he had to make Oransi stand out from the hundreds of Chinese companies already making air purifiers. So Oransi designed a better, costlier filter that could weed out more air particles. But he ran into a problem with manufacturing.

"We weren't able to find a factory (in China) that could produce filters that got to the level of performance that we were looking for," Mann says.

Moreover, he thought Chinese buyers would like U.S.-made purifiers more than products that were made in China.

"They really value American- and European-made luxury products for the quality, safety and prestige," Mann says.

So Oransi moved manufacturing to the U.S. in 2013 and started selling in China later that year.

Sales took off, tripling to $10 million in 2014. Oransi had made all of its revenue from the U.S. market in its first few years, but in 2014 more than half its sales came from China.

And Mann expects the Chinese market to drive the Austin, Texas, company's growth for at least the next few years.

--Associated Press

Published on: Feb 20, 2015