People are often surprised when I tell them that my company produces 100 percent of its products here in the United States. After all, my firm, WallMonkeys makes custom wall decals at a time when cheap vinyl stickers fill the aisles at Target and 99-cent stores. According to the prevailing wisdom, manufacturing domestically should put my company at a competitive disadvantage.
Before I got into this business, I probably would have agreed. But the prevailing wisdom happens to be wrong. There are a number of important reasons why "Made in the USA" is more than a feel-good slogan. In fact, for many companies, domestic manufacturing can be a huge business advantage and sometimes even a necessity.
1. Speed of production and shipping.
Shipping from halfway around the world takes time.
And these days, asking a customer to wait a week -- or sometimes more -- for an order can easily cost you a sale. The time saved manufacturing Stateside is even more important for businesses such as my own that deal in made-to-order products.
Because my company makes all its decals in the United States -- Gaithersburg, Md., to be exact -- more than 99 percent of the orders print and ship within 48 hours. This means that you could have one of our products hanging in your office before an item from an overseas competitor has left the port.
2. Quality control and service.
I don’t care how reliable your foreign manufacturing facility may be. When it comes to quality control, domestic production wins every time. Nothing beats being able to walk onto the floor to check the production process yourself.
If something is even a little off, corrections can be made immediately and exactly to the customer's specifications. This also helps with customer service.
In my business, clients often have custom requests that require close attention to detail. My colleagues or I can watch each item print and make sure it's done exactly to a customer’s liking -- the first time.
This consistency and precision are what inspire customer loyalty and good word-of-mouth.
3. Less inventory, less risk.
The ability to manufacture and ship quickly, even with custom jobs, can also save a company a lot of time and trouble when it comes to inventory matters.
In the case of my company, no printing is done until an order is received.
This means the company holds zero inventory (freeing up a lot of cash) and doesn't have to deal with the frustrations of markdowns, buying mistakes or guessing on the next big trend.
4. Safety and the environment.
With overseas facilities, owners have no way of knowing for sure what goes into their products. So if you plan on guaranteeing the safety or environmental friendliness of your products, you’ll always be better off with domestic production.
My firm takes pride in using eco-friendly materials, including biodegradable ink.
The ability to say with confidence that a product is safe for your customers, their families and the planet is more than worth the extra cost involved.
Not all businesses can make this model work, of course. But for the ones that can, manufacturing domestically is a must.