Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Custom Items and the choice of manufacturers

I think I am quite savvy in judging people. And this is important in choosing the suppliers and manufacturers you use. The project I am currently working on, the chairs alone, I had 6 people in the running to get the order. It all boiled down to cost, which I trusted to meet the deadline and quality assurance. The companies that didn’t get the gig mostly took it gracefully (we must remember they invest time and money in producing prototypes etc) but one company we very abusive even though I had made sure I had told them all along they were not the only ones bidding for it. They really have shot themselves in the foot though as it has now put me off using them for anything in the future.

The final crunch boiled down to two people – one an upholsterer my company use for every project. The other a company I knew but had not used who have a showroom down on Lots Road, Chelsea. The head designer on the project left the decision in my hands and, instead of taking the easy choice, I decided to take a gamble and choose the company I had not used previously. The reasons I chose them was:

- I trusted the gentleman I was dealing with

- whatever changes to the design I threw at them, they still stuck to the original budget

- they offered to “Project Manage” all the components on behalf of myself (ordering fabric, leather, sabots etc) which meant I didn’t have to worry about making sure everything would arrive on time etc which meant more time to work on other items

- if I had chosen the other company (the one we always use) because it was such a large order, it would have meant I would have been taking all their time up and we would be limited with our other projects how much work we could send their way. Also, I have found out the other company was only “overlooking” the manufacture. I wanted a manufacturer who was hands on- who was there the whole step of the way watching and keeping me updated.

The other week I got to go to the factory and see all my chairs (and a few other items I also sent their way). Factory visits are important as otherwise you never get to see the people who have been working on your items, the process of manufacture and it’s the time you get to “snag” any details that need a little more work.

My chairs are now packed and ready to be sent to site. One last check today (you check a small percentage of items at random to do a quality control check) and then they will be ready to be shipped- exciting times!!!

So, as a summary- the risk I took WAS worth taking - I got a better deal, to work with a great manufacturer and the head designer has a new respect for me for going against the easy option and the one they suggested. I strongly suggest getting in touch with the manufacturer, Rebecca Scott, as they are very obliging to take on custom projects and are a pleasure to deal with.

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