As a result, the company looked to the rest of its products, for example plastics—even bringing its PCBs back. It continues to work with its current vendors (including the ones it uses overseas) in other product categories to focus on the issues they face that HawgWired must help them solve.
“I’m not knocking offshore,” said Hughes. “We solved a number of issues bringing things back but unfortunately we can’t bring it all back. For example, there are no magnet manufacturers left in the U.S. so it makes it difficult to get the speakers made here readily available. There are also some cases where outsourcing still works well, such as with cables. I get better cables overseas than I do over here. But by manufacturing something overseas, you have to make a lot of that product to pay for that overhead. And if you don’t go over there, you really are just working in the dark.”
Know the issues you face
Whether a manufacturer decides to house production in the U.S. or outsource it overseas, the industry as a whole must communicate up and down the supply chain to address the issues, challenges and potential benefits that all segments of manufacturing contain.
“Whether it’s the people that assemble the board or those we buy our materials from—the partnerships between all of us has to be really strong and the communication, not only from the customer but within the supply chain, has to be very open,” said Kim Atkins, Founder and Co-owner, SpecCoat. “When companies are in their R&D phase, we take the opportunity to find out what their plan is and help them identify ‘is it really the best answer for my company to take my production offshore?’”
The right approach
Regardless of which side of the fence you stand on, issues are present in all industry segments of manufacturing. And whether you choose to outsource production or domesticate it, complete visibility and open communication is essential between suppliers, manufacturers and key parties involved to assess what strategy works best for your business.
“The reason it was so important for us to look at where we’re getting our products manufactured was because we are very strong at supporting our dealers at a very high level to address training and quality,” said Hughes. “It’s not about getting a product or part as cheap as you can. It’s about being able to supply the demand effectively and efficiently. We’re never going to stock thousands of circuit boards. But yet you have to have them in time and at the right quality to support our dealers. Rick was one of the most important pipelines for us to fix a lot of these manufacturing issues around.”