Getting a contract sewing job is great, but making sure a customer’s needs align with one’s business capabilities is a key consideration. “Company fit” is all important, according to Chad Miller, director of contracting at American National Manufacturing.
American National Manufacturing was started by Miller’s father in the 1970s. What began as a water bed business evolved into a massive contract sewing business that makes products used in numerous industries, including medical, consumer, safety, aviation, education and environmental services.
Miller’s presentation September 28 at IFAI Expo 2017, “Navigating the First Contract Sewing Conversation,” highlighted the numerous questions that need to be answered before agreeing to make a customer’s product. Some basic questions of fit include:
- Do I have the right equipment and talent to produce the product?
- Do I have the time to produce the product?
- What is the customer’s timeline?
- Are the materials available in the time frame?
- Do I have knowledge of the industry served by the product?
- Do I have space to do produce the product?
- Does the customer have the capital to pay for the product?
- What supply chain issues might be encountered?
Miller uses a Project Input Sheet to standardize his early discussions with potential customers who seek his contract sewing services. This document helps him discover what industry the product will be used in, an especially important factor since there may be safety standards to take into consideration.
It’s important to clearly understand who the customer is: government, an online business, a wholesaler, a distributor, a large corporation or someone who invented a product in his or her garage. And don’t forget to find out what price point that customer plans to set on the product.
The end user of that product is a whole other consideration, whether it’s an animal, a child, a firefighter or a hotel. Miller wants to understand what kind of use the product will have, design requirements, test requirements, duty cycle, and requirements for labeling, safety and packaging.
“Quality is critical. Demonstrate it,” says Miller.