Finding a contract manufacturer in China can be daunting. To set up the production of his needlepoint belt and accessories line, entrepreneur Taylor Llewellyn hopped on a plane to Beijing and knocked on doors there and in Hong Kong until he found the right partner. Here's his advice on how to manufacture in China.
Photo portfolio by Stephen Wilkes
Demand 100-percent perfect prototyping. If a factory says they can do something, make them prove it multiple times before entering in to an agreement. An assurance that something can be done should not stand as proof.
Some busy manufacturers in China seem to think that speed and volume are reasonable substitutes for quality. They are not, and you should be extremely clear that quality is what you value above all else.
Just because your last shipment was great doesn't mean you can relax. Always explicitly demand perfect quality with each subsequent shipment. Don't become complacent or allow your manufacturer to start cutting corners.
Be aggressive when you negotiate with manufacturers, particularly when it comes to payment terms. Between 50 and 75 percent of your payment should not be rendered until after the delivery of goods. A deposit of between 30 and 50 percent is enough to show a factory you're serious.
Letting your enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit shine through will show your production source that you're a serious U.S. partner. A Chinese manufacturer will be more eager to partner with you, even if you're just starting off very small, if you can demonstrate that you have a vision beyond just one order.
As different as China and the United States are in terms of business culture, people around the world share the same values and characteristics. Go to China and meet potential partners face to face. There, as is the case here, you can usually get a feel for whether someone is trustworthy and reliable.