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Locating manufacturers (prefereably not in China)

Megaman9

New Contributor
Jul 21, 2018
15
6
Looking for some guidance on how to find a manufacturer for a product.

Some background :
I had a product designed by an engineer about a year ago. It's not a new product, it just has a different shape and size from other similar products.

I tried contacting a few well known US companies about it. Some did not reply, others gave me a "no quote" reply.
Exchanged a few good emails from a manufacturer in Europe. He sent me some design improvement suggestions and even a quote which seems good. But then, he suddenly just stopped responding all together.

It is has a very specific use and I suppose you can say it's a niche product, which makes locating a manufacturer much harder. It will need to be a factory which makes similar products and has experience in the field, and there are not too many of those.

Already spent dozens of hours searching online in all sorts of databases and google.
I know there's a factory for thing like that in South Korea for example (a competitor makes his there), just not sure how to find it.

Any suggestions are welcome.
 
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Chosenone

Contributor
Jan 11, 2018
36
36
35
Looking for some guidance on how to find a manufacturer for a product.

Some background :
I had a product designed by an engineer about a year ago. It's not a new product, it just has a different shape and size from other similar products.

I tried contacting a few well known US companies about it. Some did not reply, others gave me a "no quote" reply.
Exchanged a few good emails from a manufacturer in Europe. He sent me some design improvement suggestions and even a quote which seems good. But then, he suddenly just stopped responding all together.

It is has a very specific use and I suppose you can say it's a niche product, which makes locating a manufacturer much harder. It will need to be a factory which makes similar products and has experience in the field, and there are not too many of those.

Already spent dozens of hours searching online in all sorts of databases and google.
I know there's a factory for thing like that in South Korea for example (a competitor makes his there), just not sure how to find it.

Any suggestions are welcome.

What type of product ? Give at least material (PVC, Steel, Ruber , Textile etc) and production process (manual, casting, exstrusion , etc). What is the expected quantity? Need some rough data in order to help.
 

Megaman9

New Contributor
Jul 21, 2018
15
6
What type of product ? Give at least material (PVC, Steel, Ruber , Textile etc) and production process (manual, casting, exstrusion , etc). What is the expected quantity? Need some rough data in order to help.
Makes sense :)

It is mostly metal, with some plastic. Requires injection molding, machining and maybe other processes which I am not aware of.
Hard to say about quantity, but I don't mind making a first batch of 5000 (after a prototype). Hope fully I can get to a 30-50K a year. (it's a pretty cheap product).

I am willing to say that Switchcraft is on of the companies I contacted, that should give you an idea of the type of manufacturer I need.
 

Chosenone

Contributor
Jan 11, 2018
36
36
35
Makes sense :)

It is mostly metal, with some plastic. Requires injection molding, machining and maybe other processes which I am not aware of.
Hard to say about quantity, but I don't mind making a first batch of 5000 (after a prototype). Hope fully I can get to a 30-50K a year. (it's a pretty cheap product).

I am willing to say that Switchcraft is on of the companies I contacted, that should give you an idea of the type of manufacturer I need.


Not in my area of expertise. Assuming that you have already went trough Alibaba and Thomasnet, you can scan DirectIndustry - The online industrial exhibition: sensors, automation, motors, pumps, materials handling, packaging, etc..
 
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Last edited:

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
Sep 13, 2014
3,243
12,851
World citizen
You need to think outside the square. You could look for manufacturers that produce very different products to the one you want to produce, but use similar manufacturing processes.

It might be necessary to have the components made in different factories and you then arrange assembly locally. This can have the benefit of having a Made In America label - or whatever country where the assembly takes place.

There are good injection molders in plenty of countries outside of China.

Walter
 

Megaman9

New Contributor
Jul 21, 2018
15
6
Not in my area of expertise. Assuming that you have already went trough Alibaba and Thomasnet, you can scan DirectIndustry - The online industrial exhibition: sensors, automation, motors, pumps, materials handling, packaging, etc..

Did not try Alibab for this one as I really prefer to have it made not in China.
Will check out Thomasnet again, thanks.
I think I already opened an RFQ there a while ago and never got a reply but will check again.

Did you check MakersRow

Thanks for the suggestion. Looks more like a website for textile manufacturers though.

You need to think outside the square. You could look for manufacturers that produce very different products to the one you want to produce, but use similar manufacturing processes.

It might be necessary to have the components made in different factories and you then arrange assembly locally. This can have the benefit of having a Made In America label - or whatever country where the assembly takes place.

There are good injection molders in plenty of countries outside of China.

Walter

Tried this as well with some companies in the US. Most said they are not interested or can't help. Most of the companies I found this way are only making parts, and not an assembled product, I don't think my target cost can justify using multiple locations.
Plus, I still need the expertise of someone with experience in the field for some feedback on changes/improvements.
Although, I might be looking for the wrong keywords...not sure.

There was one Korean manufacturer who gave me a quote which was four times my target retail price...(he does not make similar products).


Thanks for everybody for chiming in. Any other ideas are welcome of course.
 
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Last edited:

Megaman9

New Contributor
Jul 21, 2018
15
6
Anyone has any experience with sending a custom quote request on Thomasnet ?
Does it actually work ?
I sent one about a week ago, but did not get any confirmation/reference etc.
 

Autoblow2

Contributor
May 29, 2014
6
20
42
Your best bet will be to find out where the competing somewhat identical products are made and see if any of those factories are willing to work with you. The way to find them? Import records. Your profile doesn't say which country you are in but there are logistics information websites that will allow you to track down which factories are supplying which importers. It will take some detective work and a few paid subscriptions but can be worth it.
 

Autoblow2

Contributor
May 29, 2014
6
20
42
Also I'd want to know why you don't want to manufacture in China as that is normally the most efficient place to make almost anything (and where I've made my products for 10 years).
 
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Megaman9

New Contributor
Jul 21, 2018
15
6
Thanks for chiming in @Autoblow2.

My competitors are companies in the US (although I am not).
If you can point where I can start looking for that info, that would great.
I prefer not to make it in China since all the same products I used (and using) which are made in China are much lower quality than the made in US/Europe/Korea counterparts.
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
Sep 13, 2014
3,243
12,851
World citizen
Anyone has any experience with sending a custom quote request on Thomasnet ?
Does it actually work ?
I sent one about a week ago, but did not get any confirmation/reference etc.

Many US manufacturers won't be interested in small orders, so if you want to have any hope of getting a reply, you must avoid coming across as either small or a newbie.

Also, many are running at full capacity and won't bother answering anyone until they catch up on current orders.

Your best bet will be to find out where the competing somewhat identical products are made and see if any of those factories are willing to work with you. The way to find them? Import records. Your profile doesn't say which country you are in but there are logistics information websites that will allow you to track down which factories are supplying which importers. It will take some detective work and a few paid subscriptions but can be worth it.

The paid subscriptions to sites like Panjiva and Importgenius are way too expensive for small importers. It is worth using their free search on a one off basis.

Also I'd want to know why you don't want to manufacture in China as that is normally the most efficient place to make almost anything (and where I've made my products for 10 years).

I have frequently posted on the desirability of sourcing from Countries other than China. Benefits include:
  • Finding suppliers that respect your IP
  • Finding unique products
  • Finding products that are not currently being imported into your country. Less competition.
  • Getting better quality
  • Spending no more and sometimes less for better quality
See this post: Let's discuss the "trade war", will it impact your biz? is by a member who has taken my advice and is greatly profiting by it.

Walter
 

AgainstAllOdds

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Read Fastlane!
Speedway Pass
Dec 26, 2014
2,274
14,561
30
Chicago, IL
Trade shows.

Stop trying to find everything on "Alibaba" or "ThomasNet". Find a trade show website. Find the exhibitors. Get in touch.

Note: this won't work if your volume is too small.
 
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Megaman9

New Contributor
Jul 21, 2018
15
6
Many US manufacturers won't be interested in small orders, so if you want to have any hope of getting a reply, you must avoid coming across as either small or a newbie.

Also, many are running at full capacity and won't bother answering anyone until they catch up on current orders.



The paid subscriptions to sites like Panjiva and Import genius are way too expensive for small importers. It is worth using their free search on a one off basis.

My RFQ quantities have been 10K-30K yearly units I think. It is quite cheap product to make though.

Do the websites you mentioned (or any other) have air freight data ?


Trade shows.

Stop trying to find everything on "Alibaba" or "ThomasNet". Find a trade show website. Find the exhibitors. Get in touch.

Note: this won't work if your volume is too small.

Alibaba is the last place I would look.
I did try to search trade shows data bases, maybe I should give it another shot.
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
Speedway Pass
Sep 13, 2014
3,243
12,851
World citizen
Trade shows.

Stop trying to find everything on "Alibaba" or "ThomasNet". Find a trade show website. Find the exhibitors. Get in touch.

Note: this won't work if your volume is too small.
There is also no guarantee that the exhibitors are manufacturers even if they claim to be.
My RFQ quantities have been 10K-30K yearly units I think. It is quite cheap product to make though.

Do the websites you mentioned (or any other) have air freight data ?

Alibaba is the last place I would look.
I did try to search trade shows data bases, maybe I should give it another shot.
Those websites list only shipments sent via sea freight.

The quantity you expect to order annually is largely disregarded by suppliers. What counts for them is how many you will buy the first time. If your story is very convincing they might be more inclined to regard you as possibly a good prospective customer.

If you can buy component parts in the USA, and if the parts prices are satisfactory, perhaps you should consider using an assembly service in the USA.

It seems to me that you need to learn more about sourcing methods. If you have a look at my AMA it might give you some ideas. GOLD! Sharing my lifetime experience in export/import. Product sourcing specialist.

Walter
 

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