Many American companies move their production offshore to save money. But Sausalito, Calif.Ã±based Presentables-Cinzia Inc. manufactures in Taiwan because of service -- and therein lies a lesson about the new world of global competition.
The truth is that co-founders Cindy Berger and Stacey Singer did not want to go offshore. When the pair launched their company in 1979, they were content to make their first products -- potpourri-filled pillows and sachets -- in Berger's living room. Then came a rush of orders that threatened to overwhelm the start-up. Berger contacted a number of U.S. mills. "I begged them not to look at the size of our first orders," she recalls. "I said, 'Look at what we can do in the future.' They told me to come back when we grew to the size we were projecting.'
With nearly $9 million in sales last year, Berger is not coming back to anyone. She's perfectly happy with Mike Chen, her Taiwanese manufacturing agent, whom she found about five years ago through a catalog advertising his line of potpourri-filled glass balls. "He saw this as his lucky break," Berger recalls. "For the first two years he worked seven days a week, 18 hours a day.'
Since then, Presentables has added lingerie and children's wear and accessories to its product line. Nearly all the production is done in five factories in Taiwan, under Chen's supervision. So motivated is he, says Berger, that he planted his own rose bushes when suppliers of potpourri began to run short of the fragrant flower petals. That kind of service has earned Berger's loyalty. "We're going to stay in Taiwan," she says, although she adds that the company is setting up a production facility in India, for insurance.
-- Hal Plotkin