Michael McKeldon Woody, CEO at Trans-Tex LLC, says that manufacturing tide is beginning to turn favorably to the U.S., but companies have to be ready to embrace customers who expect to “have it their way.”
Woody presented the principles found in his book, American Dragon, Oct 19, at the IFAI 2016 Expo in Charlotte, N.C. Woody’s book explores how U.S. companies can succeed at manufacturing using the principles of “fewer, faster and finer.”
Woody says Trans-Tex sales increased six times between 2006 and 2015, because the company has exploited the weaknesses of Chinese manufacturing firms. Those weaknesses include an inability to handle short production runs, geographic distance, poor product safety standards and communication issues.
Woody’s principles of fewer, faster and finer translate into smaller customized production runs, quicker production times and better quality. He also emphasizes that, “One size fits all is obsolete.” The Internet has given customers access to lots of information and purchasing power—and that’s exactly what new consumers now expect, especially when popular brands like Starbucks can promise 80,000 beverage combinations.
To appeal to customers, Trans-Tex adopted several strategies. These include slashing minimum order size by 75 percent, investing in digital production technology and investing in bar coding mechanisms to track orders. In short, Woody says Trans-Tex became the “easy button” for their customers, because speed to market is everything.
Younger consumers also demand transparency in the supply chain. Millennials can easily research factory safety records and compliance backgrounds. A simple Internet search will bring up past problems with lead in children’s toys, for example, or an overseas factory that collapsed on workers. That lack of integrity will discourage many millennials from purchasing such products.