If you are looking for a factory in the USA you may well be wasting your time

Recently I came across a blog post of a toy manufacturer in the US. The blog post was the company’s response to a customer who had asked the company why they made dolls in China. It is not much of a question for the answer, that it is just much cheaper to make toys in China, is obvious but the blogger went on to list a couple of less obvious, but very good, reasons why China is a good place to manufacture dolls. These are as follows:

1.) According to the blogger there is just one doll factory remaining in the US, a factory in Indiana. When I go on alibaba and see how many doll suppliers come up in China, the number is over 7,000. In other words, if you are trying to get a doll made in the US you will have a difficult time of it. In fact I am a bit incredulous when the blogger states that there is just one doll factory in the US. Surely there must be more than one. Common sense tells me there are a handful. Still the point is well taken. It just saves time and money making a doll in China. And a lot of it. And I imagine it is the same with a lot of consumer products. No one even makes them anymore here.

2.) The US does not have the doll making technology any more since very few dolls are made here nowadays. So even if you had the budget to make a doll at the one factory in Indiana, there still would be technical limitations. This is a good point because one result of the cosmic shift of manufacturing from the US to China over the past 30 years is that all the latest manufacturing technology is in China and not the US. In fact, I just heard from a client of mine the other day who was having a hard time finding a factory in the US who could do a stitch she needed on one of her products. Apparently no companies she approached had the machines capabale of doing this stitch. They are all in China.

Made in the USA. Who can afford to do it anymore? And even if you can, is it possible?



2 thoughts on “If you are looking for a factory in the USA you may well be wasting your time

  1. Dolls are only one product line. There are a great many factories in the US making a great many different products. Your assertion that looking for a US manufacturer of any kind is a waste of time is no more true than asserting that any order from Chinese factories will be a nightmare of effort, error and bad quality. Neither is always true but both can be true.

    I know of MANY manufacturers here in the US that are willing and capable of making products to order for customers at prices that are very competitive with Chinese factories. I consult to the woodworking industry and have worked with many myself.

    From an Upstate New York company that mills custom short to mid volume parts to one on the Canadian border in Vermont that makes huge quantities of furniture parts, to FastCap in Bellingham Washington that has moved more than 60% of their manufacturing BACK to the US and plans to bring the rest back within 3 more years. Transportation costs, quality issues, language barriers and the effort required to get started in China all combine with a Patriotic trend to have more products made here. Also, additive manufacturing and similar technologies are going to VERY radically disrupt the manufacturing marketplace over the next decade in ways that we can’t even for see as yet.

    I’m not saying Americans should not look to China for manufacturing, but I am also not saying that everyone SHOULD.

    • Ralph: Thanks for your comment. Your point is well taken. Maybe I should amend the title of the post to read, “if you are looking for a factory in the USA you MIGHT be wasting your time.” Of course there are options here in the US that are very competitive with China. But the big picture is that for so many small businesses the only option is China. And I see this time and time again with the people who come to me. There is such downward pressure on cost from big retailers that these small business owners have no hope of getting in the door unless they can hit retailer target costs. Which means they have to look to China. I would add that I worked in the high-end furniture industry for several years and saw the same there. There were US options for certain things, e.g. upholstery, but frames were always made overseas.

      But yes, your point is well taken in some industries China is most certainly NOT the only option. Thanks again

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