With everything that’s been going on in the world in the past couple of years, there is more of a push than perhaps ever in recent memory to bring more manufacturing back to the U.S.
From supply chain snarls to raw materials shortages and COVID shutdowns, manufacturing has faced major hurdles on the global level since 2020.
A lot of companies are looking for ways to manufacture their products in the U.S. to avoid some of these hurdles. Plus, consumers tend to like products made in the United States.
U.S.-based manufacturers are stepping up and helping businesses. A U.S.-based manufacturer is more likely to have business continuity than overseas facilities. For example, if something goes wrong with their equipment, it may be easier for them to get access to quality electrical control products and services to stay up and running.
When you work with someone in the U.S., you aren’t at the mercy of overseas shipping, saving both time and money.
There are fewer communication barriers, and things tend to run more smoothly.
So how can you start manufacturing a product in the United States?
Preparing to Find a Manufacturer
Whether you’re working with a U.S. manufacturer or not, you need to make sure a few steps are taken care of before talking to anyone.
You need to do market research, and then you need to decide on licensing. You have to figure out if you’re going to produce and sell the product, or you’re going to license the product idea to a company.
You need to build and test a prototype and make sure you’ve protected your intellectual property.
Know the Risks
When you partner with a manufacturer, particularly as a small business, there are some risks that you might face when entering an agreement.
A lot of these risks are actually greatly mitigated if you’re working with an American company.
For example, if you work with a manufacturer overseas, poor labor practices can be an issue. In America, it’s much easier to know that your manufacturer partner is following all labor regulations and guidelines.
In foreign countries, corruption can be common, so if you work with someone overseas, you have to ensure that you’re checking references and regularly conducting audits.
Intellectual property theft is another risk that’s going to be more likely to happen if you work with someone overseas. Your IP is what sets you apart, but there are countless stories of foreign companies improperly using IP.
The Benefits of American Factories
Above we briefly touched on some of the benefits of working with American factories, but there are others we didn’t get into yet.
First, when you work with a U.S. manufacturer, they’re going to be able to accommodate smaller batches of your product. Overseas factories usually have large minimum orders.
You can also check in on the plant easily, especially if it’s within 100-200 miles of where you’re located.
Quality control can be a big issue when you work with suppliers overseas.
What to Look For
When you’re choosing a manufacturer, there are a few key things to look for, no matter what type of product you’re having made.
First, you want to look at the technical capabilities of the facility. A factory should be making goods or products that are similar to yours already. That way, they’re going to know what’s needed to make yours, and they’re going to have the equipment and resources required.
You want a manufacturer to be able to answer your questions and walk you through the products. Basically, you want to make sure that you’re working with a company that has experience and knowledge and can demonstrate that to you effectively.
Do some digging to learn more about the factory’s reputation. Are there are any issues as far as things like regulatory fines that you uncover?
Be Prepared to Pitch Your Product
When you’re meeting with American manufacturers, or even as you’re initially reaching out to them, you have to realize that they probably don’t need your business. It’s going to be up to you to sell them on it.
That’s why you need to carefully research companies before making contact—you want to try to build a connection with them that compels them to work with you. You want a long-term partnership and so how you initially set the stage for that is important.
Finally, when you talk to a company rep, they may have their own ideas about what the process should look like, so be willing to listen and also be ready to show the manufacturer how they’re going to be able to make money in the relationship.