How to find the right manufacturer

Unless you’re the product yourself, or a program of licensing the product, you need to find a good manufacturer to handle production of the product. So whether you are a contract manufacturing, private label selling, or form a partnership, you need to find someone who can cheaply and effectively make the product. Of all the questions I get from inventors, find manufacturer’s probably my first trial.

Step 1. Make sure you know the word for manufacturing the product. For example, it is extruded plastics, thermoset plastics, machined, stamped and a host of other terms that separate the different ways to make products. You will find it difficult to find the right manufacturer without being able to describe the exact production process. If you do not know the method name itself trying to contact these groups:

Local inventors your club, you can find the Digest website inventor. These groups usually have monthly meetings and they often protoypers or other engineers who meet that can help you understand the process required to make the product.
Local phone SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives) organization. This organization usually has several engineers retired plant or connect with people that can help recognize the type of production you need to make the product.
Local small business scenario. If the local group can not identify the process and they usually can direct you to someone who can.

Step 2. Find the potential manufacturers. I found the best ways to do this are:

Check BlueBook in MacRae is that lists manufacturers by state by category.
Check the Thomas Register, which also list the manufacturer after class.
Look for trade associations for the industry generally have the membership list. For example, do look for plastic injection molding manufacturing unions. Most of the time you find a trade group that most of the producers belong too. If that does not work can also search for shows for the type of production. These are usually run by the trade association, where you will find the membership list. If these techniques do not work, you can also check the larger libraries in your area that could have book companies to find the right group for the product.

Step 3. Shortcut – Rather than contact the company and assess whether they could make the product, I have found it useful to contact instead of companies that make the equipment needed to make the product. For example, if a product has injection molding equipment, contact the manufacturers of injection molding equipment and ask the salesperson to recommend people in your area who have the right kind of equipment. You can also tell the person you are looking for a company that would produce a small run. Salespeople sell equipment you need manufacturer often give you the best list produces contact.

Step 4. Call the company, see if they can produce the product and get food for small and medium volume production suitable for your part. If could be a series of 500 and 2,500 shares for one product and 50 to 5,000 others. This way you can see if the companies could be a good fit for you. Do not be discouraged if the companies do not want to quote you. Just keep calling until you find one that wants your business.

Step 5. Try to find out whether the manufacturer has underutilized plant. Every manufacturer has a cost, or fixed, costs (ie salaries, rent and phone bills) that they need to go on the products they produce. So fewer products they produce, higher overhead cost of the product. Usually they will manufacturer that can offer you the shortest lead time to fill your order.

Now it seems that you need to the manufacturer who is running their plant near the ability to have the lowest overhead cost of the product, but it’s nice to find a manufacturer with underutilized plant is that they will want your business and should be willing to to make concessions. For example, if you can have extended the terms for the first six months of the year you’ll have much less operating capital. Or you could get what start-up costs that they have written off which means that the first run of the product, the start up cost is spread out on each product produced as a small fee. All these concessions can make a big difference for underfinanced inventor.

Step 6. Consider financial manufacturer. While you want the manufacturer underutilized plant to offer you a franchise, you do not want a company that is about to go bankrupt. Request settlement of all potential producers devices. Then find an experienced business person to review the document with you. If a company is in financial trouble, it’s probably too risky for you to produce the goods on.

So the manufacturer you want to find a plant with all the right equipment is not running close to capacity, but not so slow that they are in financial trouble. This may seem difficult to ascertain, but by following the above steps you should be able to find out all this information from them. Do not be shy to call a company, they usually tell you much more than you would expect.

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