Russ Cohen has worked in Asia sourcing manufacturers and managing production for 16 years, working with some major brands. This blog follows on from the previous posting on Manufacturing Product in Asia to delve more deeply into the subject of sourcing the right manufacturing partner.
If you think you can’t have a high-quality product manufactured in China, think again. Russ Cohen tells you why China is his number one choice for manufacturing “Brand Quality” Products
Twenty years ago the words “Quality” and “China” only appeared in the same sentence if words such as poor, bad or dodgy found themselves sandwiched in between. Yet today, although there are still a number of “variable” quality factories in China (check the (in)famous Alibaba.com for some reviews!), if I wanted to manufacture a consistent, reliable product at a competitive price, China would be at the top of my list and here’s why.
As a qualified Geologist I’ve always been interested in evolution. I never practiced my trade but I have been fortunate enough to have been part of the evolution of the Chinese Manufacturing Industry over the past two decades.
In the 70’s everything was ‘Made in Hong Kong’. I remember as my Dad used to come here a lot and send home postcards of food that looked like it was from another planet and a skyline to beat Margate.
Then Hong Kong became too expensive so in the 80’s everything was made in Taiwan – the label in my T-shirts said so. Same amazing post cards of food but less neon.
Then Taiwan became too expensive by the mid 90’s and China began to open its doors. Many factories were opened on the mainland by Taiwanese and Japanese firms. Their Western customers came to buy their product and with them came their Metallurgists, Designers, Engineers, Supply Chain and Quality Assurance experts. Their aim? To work with the factories to make “brand-quality” goods that met rigorous quality standards sourced at the most competitive prices. They trained workers, raw material suppliers and management alike. They transferred technology, shared their business philosophies, views and opinions, successes and failures. 20 years of continuous improvement in how to produce better, more consistent and reliable products under tight cost controls.
In 2010 the Chinese government released its 5-year plan which would double the minimum wage by 2015. They would build a population with more disposable income giving them the ability to consume the goods that the country produced and reducing its need to rely on exports.
Low tech, low innovation, lower quality mass production that relies solely on cheap labour was not part of the plan and is now costed out of China. If you want that, just check your t-shirt label to find out where to go. But if you want to manufacture a quality product that can be reliably produced at a competitive price, consistently, come to China. There’s a lot of good here, if you know where to look.
About the Author
Russ Cohen has lived in South East Asia since 2000, working in Manufacturing, Supply Chain, Quality and Logistics for Raw Material Supply businesses and Brands such as Maclaren and Crumpler. He currently heads up a Manufacturing Services Agency providing support for small to medium size businesses for manufacturing in Greater China and South East Asia.
If you would like more information on the Manufacturing Services Agency Russ heads up you can contact him through his Linkedin profile