There’s a great wall dividing manufacturing and supply and the gap will cost you time, money and clients. Here is how we took our small business to the next level, by actually going to China, the source of where our products are manufactured.
In 2009 two-partners and I started our promotional product business in Green Lane, a town outside of Philadelphia. Being recent college graduates, we had little business experience—but we had a motivated spirit for success. We soon realized we needed more that these two attributes in order for us to meet our goals.
As we thought about our business we thought we could achieve a strategic advantage by breaking down the great divide between manufacturer and supplier by going to the source of our supply chain. And we could leverage this change to help us achieve our growth objectives.
In 2010 I left for China with a one-way ticket, a handful of clients I’d worked hard to get, and a few connections from my days studying Mandarin in Beijing. Within months we set up a Hong Kong base with a leading manufacturer, which began a business partnership that would entirely change our business.
Our new partner offered us something our competitors took years to build—either through direct Chinese supplier relationships or by building their own factory: the ability to more closely control our supply chain, from product conception to production to delivery.
Over the course of the year, a second partner transferred to Hong Kong to bolster our presence, as well as solidify our working relationships. Simultaneously, our 3rd partner increased our customer base in the US through an intense marketing campaign via existing sales channels.
The story hasn’t ended yet. We’re now a 5-Star supplier on ASI and working our way up on SAGE and PPAI (all national promotional distributor associations). We’re also steadily expanding our sales force in the US. We believe with one foot on the factory floor and one in the distributor’s door, we’ve got a good formula for long-term growth. Through our partnership we’ve increased our profits by 300% and our supply chain has been streamlined to be more manageable for maximum efficiency.
Stephen Peters, President
1036 Magazine Road
May 2012: The Supplier Spotlight Monthly SBE Contest.
Sponsored by Supplier-Connection – An initiative of major US companies committed to spending more with US-based small businesses.