With that, Beckwith dispelled a widely held belief that foreign-made products are less-expensive than their American-made counterparts. He said with the production of larger and heavier products, such as medallions, and if customers are not “amenable” to waiting up to 12 weeks (or more) for their orders, “just the cost of airfreight to offer a reasonable production schedule can exceed the cost of the product itself, making our USA-made alternative a cost-efficient choice.”
Ellis agreed, stating the risk of price inflation is, in fact, significant for distributors selling imported products. “There is far less protection against price increases with imports, where so many cost variables are in play,” he explained. In HumphreyLine’s case, Ellis said the primary cost risk is its plastic resin. “The rest of our costs are quite predictable over a reasonable planning horizon,” he said.
Beckwith also pointed to recent headlines showing “how little regard many Chinese manufacturers have for their customers’ health and welfare, let alone that of their employees” as incentives keeping him committed to domestic manufacturing. “We are confident that our quality standards, both in terms of our products and our workforce, will continue to allow us to grow and prosper,” he said.
AMERICA THE DUTIFUL
One would think it a cinch to sell American-made products on American soil. Think again. According to Beckwith, the challenge does not lie in product costs, but in distributor education on quality tooling. “Distributors, especially those in business less than 15 to 20 years, have become so accustomed to cheap tooling and set-up charges or no set-up charges for, sadly, poorer-quality, China-made products that they have accepted those standards as the norm,” he explained. “Many remain unaware there are higher-quality choices.” His advice to distributors: “Quality starts with good designs and tooling, and is remembered long after price is forgotten.”