There is a great satisfaction that comes from design and manufacturing your own products. Seems like that we lost that romance (as a nation) for a while, so its good to see it coming back. The Made Local movement is an important one for the long term success of the United States. Lets explore this for a few minutes.
Romance of Manufacturing Your Own Products
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Hi. My name is Montie Roland. And I’m with Montie Design. I’m going to spend a few minutes with you today talking about a subject that comes up a good bit. And that is do I license? Or do I manufacture it myself.
And we’ve kind of talked about this in some different ways over the past few months, and I think that there’s this thing that we’ve kind of lost as a culture. And that is the craftsmanship, the makers. And I get the fact that someone looks at developing a product and getting a patent and licensing it out as a way of earning some income. That is completely valid. And I’m not running that down at all. As a matter of fact, that’s a very healthy thing for our economy. It’s a winner all the way around. And that’s kind of a little bit different than what I want to focus on.
I’m driving down Highway 49 in North Carolina between Raleigh and Charlotte. As I’m driving, I’m seeing these places where there are these small manufacturers. Very small; we’ll call them micro-manufacturers. One is I drove by an old building where the faded sign said “Len’s Saddlery”. And I’m guessing – now, I could be wrong here – but I’m guessing, since it says saddlery, he might have been a reseller, but he might have made them, too. And if he made them, that’s kind of neat. You know? Somebody that makes horse saddles. I’ve seen other places as I’ve gone by where there were these small businesses that had other, similar niche products, and some of these businesses never grow beyond a guy and his helper in a shed. At the same time, there’s a lot of situations like that where there’s one or two or three or four people where everybody in that shed does very well. They have a great product. It has a market. It sells. They’re very busy. We have a company down . . . well, maybe forty-five minutes or an hour from the office, that makes safes. And they can only make so many safes a month. And right now with all the political turmoil regarding firearms, they have more orders than they can fill. And they have these really high-quality, kick-butt safes. And so they have a safe where their competitor’s safe is maybe made of 16-gauge metal; and their safe is made of quarter-inch thick metal. So, in this case, we’re talking, you know, four times as thick. So, their safes are more expensive. But, they kind of have this following that’s interesting that the owner of the company told me that they’d actually have offers to buy their company. First question he asked is, Where you going to make ‘em? And the guy got real quiet. Said, We’re going to produce them wherever’s the most cost effective way, or something like that. Which basically means they may not be made in North Carolina anymore; may not be made in the U.S. I’ve heard other business owners who had the same comment. We talked to a guy the other day that the company said I want to license your patent and take over your product. And he said, Where are you going to make it? And they said, Wherever’s cheapest. And so that probably means it’s going to go to the Far East. And there’s nothing wrong with making products in the Far East. I’m not railing against any way. We design products that get made in the Far East. Every year we have very successful clients who trade, and international trade is a good thing, despite whatever anybody tells you. As long as it’s on a fair basis, it’s a good thing. Without delving too deep, I think we have to be careful about trade imbalances, but . . .
So, these folks that I’m talking about have these . . . you know, from boutique to slightly bigger businesses. And, as I drive through the country I see these places where some of these older businesses have close. And, you know, I look and some of them were, you know, maybe more on the reseller’s side; and some of them were on the small manufacturer. But I look and there’s this . . . I imagine somebody that’s older that is an expert in making ABC. And he has some folks that are maybe younger working for him and they make ABC. And maybe they make the best ABC on the planet. Maybe it’s just good. Or maybe it just meets the needs. But, so I look at that and there’s kind of this romantic fascination that says, Hey, it’d be nice if we had more of those companies. And, we’re starting to see more. I think the ones you’re seeing now that are at least getting the press, or these companies that, like, for example, make cupcakes. I don’t know if you know it or not but you can buy a $20 cupcake now; $10, $20, $8, $7, $6. You can buy cupcakes that are gourmet cupcakes. And that’s awesome. I think that a lot of these older styles of doing business are coming back. In Durham, there’s a company that has a meat truck. And so, I think it’s healthy for the economy and vibrant. And it also gives people a kind of an outlet. Because they can look at it and go, I could do that. They’re not . . . you know, they can look at General Motors and go, Oh; wow, that’s beyond me. And it probably is beyond most people to start the next General Motors. But, to start the next business where you’ve got a storefront and maybe a helper and you make a few of these a month – whatever that is – or a bunch of these a month, that’s something I think a lot of people can get their arms around. And I think that’s a great thing because when they do, that drives the economy. You know, those goods require raw materials, they require other vendors. It’s just a winner. And one of the things that I’m happy to see is micro-brands.
Now, as a company, if you come and say we want you to design something that I’m going to turn around and license, we’re happy to do that. And I’m happy to see that, too. The micro-brand part has that, you know, that romantic fascination because somebody’s going to actually put it together and ship it. Somebody’s going to get it out of the box and . . . and I think that’s an awfully nice way to do business.
I think it’s important to help those businesses along. From Montie Design’s standpoint, I don’t know that it’s a government role. The best government role there is just less regulation, because regulation ultimately slows down the growth of the smaller companies and . . . slows down the growth of all companies but it really hurts the smaller companies the worst. So, you know, the government’s role, I think, is just to reduce regulation. From a Montie Design role, hey, I’m happy to do podcasts and teach some classes and maybe encourage some folks.
I do think this is a great time in some ways, because all of a sudden, there’s a lot of people rethinking what they can do for a living. And rethinking, you know, how we can manufacture in the U.S. and make that work. I’m excited about that. It’s definitely a difficult economic time all the way around. Economy’s slowing down. But, you know, when there’s change, there’s opportunity. And so, I hope if you’re thinking about, you know, making your own product or . . . or driving forward, you know, that micro-brand or maybe that big brand, I hope that you’ll make that happen.
If you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to give me a call. Shoot me an email. It’s Montie Roland at 1-800-722-7987. 1-800-722-7987. Or shoot me an email at montie (M-O-N-T-I-E)@montie(M-O-N-T-I-E).com. Or you can visit our website – www.montie.com. Say hi on the chat. We have a little chat app at the bottom right. Click on it and say hi and introduce yourself. And let me know if any of these podcasts are interesting or helpful, or if you have suggestions.
Thanks. Have a great day. Montie Roland, signing off.