Made in Canada and barcode, business concept

If you want to provide the best quality products at the best prices and still leave enough in your pocket to pay the bills, it can be hard to resist the urge to offshore your manufacturing. Who hasn’t heard about the advantages of low cost labour in places like China or India?

When KANDY Outdoor Flooring was in its start-up phase, we conducted exhaustive research into manufacturing our own products onshore. But it simply wasn’t feasible. We proceeded to work directly with offshore production facilities, sourcing raw materials and having our products manufactured to our specifications in South America and China.

We soon experienced delays related to weather, the environment, and political unrest, and found ourselves wrestling with unpredictable shipping costs, language and cultural barriers and a host of outdated importing processes still being recommended by self-described experts.

The experience taught us a lot about importing, from tariff classifications to the value of customs brokers. The biggest lesson—and the reality for any small or new importer—is that there is no recourse if, or when, you discover product problems. Exporters provide no guarantees or warrantees, and are unable to take responsibility for anything that might happen to the goods ‘on the water.’

So we looked homeward once again, adding the Canadian Collection suite of outdoor flooring deck tiles to our overall product mix. It’s a line inspired by, designed in, and made in Canada.

Here are six ways in which onshoring has worked out for us, and why you should consider using it yourself.

1. Lead and Customer Reaction Time

By manufacturing in Canada, we can place an order and have product ready for the market within a matter of days. Compare this to overseas manufacturing: a long, drawn out process that took on average four months from order placement to delivery.

Onshoring has dramatically reduced our processing and shipping costs, and increased customer satisfaction—we can install new outdoor flooring on a client’s condo balcony without making them wait for months.

2. Product Development

To design new offerings, we use feedback directly from customers, installers, designers and Franchise Partners in the field to create a unique product line our customers actually want. And our Canadian manufacturer now works with us on product development. China suppliers, by contrast, would accept only slight modifications from what they already provide to others. If our specifications resulted in product improvements, nothing was proprietary or protected, allowing the manufacturers to simply pass the improvements on to potential competitors.

3. Quality Control

With a Canadian manufacturing base, we no longer have to navigate language barriers and multiple time zones in order to work through quality control issues. We’ve been able to implement an automated assembly process, increasing both quality and consistency in our Canadian Collection interlocking deck tiles. Our manufacturing partner stands behind our products and if there are any issues, they work with us to find solutions.

4. Market Responsiveness

When our customer base signals a desire for a new colour, pattern, or type of material, we can now efficiently produce smaller sample lots without having to commit to an entire container-load. This keeps our prices lower and helps ensure we are only bringing to market what customers actually want.

Recently, we planned for the initial run of a new product to include three colours. But which ones, and in what proportion? We applied what we knew about customer preferences from previous sales data to make our best guess, and ended up ordering 50% of the run in Solstice Steel, 35% in Mountain Mist and 15% in Hazelnut. We anticipated the batch would last us four months—we sold all of the Hazelnut in just three weeks!

If this were one our China-made product lines, we would have had to commit to a full container—10,000 square feet of tiles—without knowing if the early sales of Hazelnut would continue. Instead we simply did another production run of the colour and had more available for sale in two days.

5. Simplified Supply Chain Logistics

Manufacturing at home vastly reduces the amount of administration and paperwork you’ll need to do. That means no customs brokers, tariff classifications, myriad acronyms, forms or documentation to prepare for the import process.

6. Support the Economy at Home

Last but not least, manufacturing in Canada keeps more dollars right here and helps support Canadian jobs and the economy. That makes us very proud, and is reason enough to bring it all home.

Kelly Niessen is the Chief Experience Officer and co-founder of KANDY Outdoor Flooring

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Do you manufacture in Canada or offshore? What other advantages are there to making your product at home? Let us know by commenting below.

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