Sourcing the right manufacturing partner

Sourcing Manufacturers

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.

Most projects that fail either en route to production or once production has started will do so due to a failure in the relationship between customer and manufacturer.

This is one of the most important relationship you will have in your business career. You need to find a partner that aligns with not only your product, but with your company and you as an individual.

Here’s 5 key considerations to make sure you get this critical choice right

  1. Your chosen partner must have the technical knowledge to produce what you want at desired quality level.
  2. The Partner must want to produce your product. They will either want to produce your product because they can make a margin or because they like your product or brand. They might want to make your product as they need business – avoid this.
  3. The Factory should fit the size of your production requirements. I once had around 100 SKU’s of nearly a million units being produced across four factories, each of similar capability, technical ability and reputation. My on-time delivery KPI’s were over 98.5% on the three factories with the lion’s share of my business. The one with only 4 SKU’s were late on every single production order, only informing me a few days before each promised delivery. My one container per month was nothing for this factory who produced 100 containers per month. When their big customers came calling little Russ got pushed to the back of queue.
  4. The Partner must be able to understand you and communicate with you. Its best to find factories that already have overseas customers so they have experience in your thought process and mentality. They will therefore also actually have a license to export the finished product – something often missed! Check their website – is it written in good English? Do they have any certifications? (make sure they’re not expired!) Do they have export customers listed or brands?
  5. Trust – you need to be able to trust your manufacturing partner, and they you. The best way for this to happen is to get an introduction from someone that has worked with them before. If not, check their customer base. Who do they manufacture for? Any recognizable names and countries? Take your time, write to them, get them to send you information, study their web site, skype them. Whenever possible, visit the factory and meet them in person. Don’t just assume they’ll do the job you want.


So, in conclusion, when sourcing the right manufacturing partner in Asia ensure that you pick one with whom you can communicate, who understands you, is compatible with you and wants to be with you, long term. If not, you could be in for a frustrating and expensive experience. Sound familiar?

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

You can read Russ’s previous blog “Manufacturing in Asia: An Insight from the Frontline” here:

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