Whether you’re a seasoned OEM veteran or this is your first voyage into the world of manufacturing overseas, it can be an intimidating process to embark on. There are so many considerations to be made, a seemingly endless amount of supplier partners, and the not-so-small matters of language, cultural, and time-zone barriers that must be overcome. At Basswood an established lighting manufacturer, we understand that your product concept is the result of many hours of hard work, consideration and even costly research and development into the potential market opportunities that exist for it. We know it’s critical that the manufacturing process be as seamless and cost-effective as possible. We also understand that selecting a manufacturing partner based solely on the quoted cost of goods is not always the most overall cost-effective approach once you factor in the hidden costs of lost time due to poor communication or even wasted inventory capital due to quality issues on the back end. There is so much at stake and no time to lose when working with manufacturers in China and Thailand.
But working with an overseas supplier to bring your product vision to life doesn’t have to be an overwhelming process. Here are several tips on the matter from various members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. These tips are featured in full on under30ceo.com. Below, we break down each tip with a detailed explanation of how Basswood approaches each element so you can make the best, most informed decisions for the future of your business when choosing a lighting manufacturer or someone to help you with your flashlight and lantern design:
1. Outline Expectations Up Front
“The biggest tip I would give to someone getting started with manufacturing overseas is to have something written in the agreement that addresses imperfections, damages or mistakes in the product. We import 200 to 300 containers a year, and one bad container could cost up to $80,000. Without clauses in the agreement (and a quality control person there), a bad shipment could cripple a startup.”
-Gary Nealon, The Rox Group
At Basswood, we believe the most well-executed plans begin with a clear agreement on expectations. From Day One, we will work closely with your team to outline every detail related to your product design, the expected manufacturing process, what will happen if a problem should arise, and who your critical points of contact will be all along the way. We have used our years of experience to perfect our legal contracts in a way that protects both parties and streamlines the process so we all can focus on getting your product to market faster, and at the quality level you expect.
Speaking of quality, Basswood employs a team of highly trained quality specialists who are involved in the design and manufacturing of your product from start to finish. We believe that thinking about quality on the front end of the process is critical to ensuring your vision is brought to life in the end result. This also helps us avoid mistakes that cost time and money to correct.
2. Work with On-Shore Connections
“You need to be working through someone you know and trust and who is on shore. I’ve seen a lot of people pick any company to work with overseas simply because they thought they would save a little money. With an on-shore connection, you can pick the right firm to work with and manage them properly.”
-Andy Karuza, Brandbuddee
The Basswood team consists of 15 members (another 75 in our factories) working from 6 countries to manufacture LED headlamps, flashlights, and lanterns in our factories in Thailand and China. We have native-speakers in every country we work in, ensuring a seamless line of communication that starts with the Client’s direction and intention, and ends with the individuals actually making your product. One of the biggest advantages Basswood offers over other overseas suppliers is a full-time North American-based resource devoted solely to ensuring your needs are heard and met without the “lost in translation” frustrations described above.
3. Visit the Manufacturing Site
“You need to spend some time on the ground meeting people and overseeing where everything will be put together. All the successful product developers I know always go to the manufacturing site to review it in person. You have to see it to believe it, so to speak.” – Russ Oja, Seattle Windows and Construction, LLC
Basswood has two manufacturing locations in Dongguan, China and Korat, Thailand. Our China facility is 100% owned by Basswood while we have a robust partnership in place in Thailand. In both facilities we will have an account manager from your respective region attend any factory visit along with the appropriate onsite personnel and other team members from Hong Kong. Just let us know when you would like to visit our home office or factory and we will coordinate all transportation and when required accommodations. Factory visits generally involve an overview walkthrough of the factory floor along with meeting the management team and having targeted discussions about previously discusses objectives. The goal is for us to show the investments into our facilities and processes to reassure you that our lighting background expertise in flashlights, headlamps and lanterns is the right fit for your organization.
In addition to in person meetings we routinely conduct video conferences as a form of global communication between our team members and our clients. This resource is a great way to clearly communicate with cross functional team members on a project by project basis. It is a great way for designers and engineers to review and discuss new flashlight designs without the time and expense of air travel.
By now you can see that not all supplier partnerships are created equal, and price isn’t the only factor in choosing a manufacturer for your product. Also critically important to your success will be ensuring there is a clear agreement up front regarding expectations and contingency plans, having a trusted liaison in place to assist in navigating language and cultural barriers, and having the ability to personally visit the manufacturing site when needed. Basswood is committed to exceeding these goals and expectations, no matter the size of your business with us. Our goal is to earn your trust through exceptional service, and to ultimately establish a long-time partnership with you and your company.
Basswood is a lighting manufacturer based in Hong Kong, China with factories located in Thailand and China. We offer full industrial design services, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering expertise to help bring your flashlight, headlamp or lantern design concepts to life.