Many people in the West tend to think that manufacturing is something that happens overseas. But the USA is still the largest manufacturing powerhouse in the world, despite the shift to Chinese production in recent decades.
Manufacturing has a dirty and low-tech image, but this simply isn’t the case in the modern, manufacturing sector. Plants and facilities are clean, safe and well run.
It’s also becoming more and more economically viable to set up factories in western countries, thanks to the falling price of automation. So where should you start if you want to get into this industry?
Build Mutually-Beneficial Partnerships
Small startup manufacturers aren’t always taken seriously by the big players in the industry. But often they need to get the bigger players on board to bring their products to market. For instance, if you set up a factory to make a new wearable electronic device, there’s every chance you’ll have to go to Foxconn or some other printed circuit maker to get the circuitry you’ll need.
Expert George Burciaga, CEO of Elevate Digital wanted to set up his own outfit to make touchscreen displays. He realized that he needed the help of another company to produce the various parts he needed for his enterprise, so he used his capital to his advantage. He asked a company to work with him, and in return, he offered the use of a large assembler he had for their future product lines. The result was a partnership that helped to make Burciaga rich.
Do Your Research
Of all businesses, manufacturers need to have the best understanding of the product that their customers want. With the costs of machinery and integrating supply chains, manufacturers can often wind up blowing huge budgets without any payoffs.
According to Lawson Nickol, founder of All American Clothing, manufacturing startups need to do lots of research on what customers want. Start with trade journals and industry fairs to see how production units are put together, he says, and how other units meet the needs of their clients.
He also says that startups need to heavily research the people they are working with. You want to have as many options as possible, as well as the ability to say no if it’s a bad deal.
Finding the right manufacturer can be a challenge, especially if they are located overseas. But the good news, according to Kevin Lavelle, the co-founder, and CEO of a men’s lifestyle brand is that everybody now leaves a digital trail online. He says that startups need to check the reference of the companies that they want to work with. He then suggests that entrepreneurs take baby steps to find out whether the relationship is working, before jumping in at the deep end and making a large order.
According to Cricket Allen, founder of a healthy snack company, you’d can’t afford to make mistakes in this business. The early stages should all be about careful maneuvering and nothing else.