Why Wahsega Labs chose to manufacture in the United States instead of China
Wahsega Labs made a pragmatic decision when it came time to pick where to build their products. They chose made in the U.S.A.
Pragmatic because building in the U.S.A. wasn’t solely for patriotic reasons. OK, maybe a little. But not only for that reason. Wahsega Labs manufacturers in the States because it allows them to fulfill their primary goal: highest quality, great price. The customer has always been priority number one and that was best accomplished at home. The fact that it also allowed them to keep jobs here in the U.S. also weighed heavily. Here is what they considered before making their choice.Conventional wisdom says that you need to outsource
This may be true when you are making spoons or key blanks. Problem is, Wahsega Labs makes products that deal with a customer’s safety and must deliver world class performance under a wide variety of operating environments. The products are complex and manufacturing processes must be exact. There are market timing considerations. What about shipping times? Experiments were done overseas to test quality, shipping times and more. What they discovered is that although these overseas facilities may make fantastic shoes, as it turns out, their ability to produce products that meet Wahsega’s quality standards were lacking.
This would end up cheating not only Wahsega’s direct customers but also their customer’s customers. Not acceptable. Because many of Wahsega’s customers include system integrators and companies that have to install product directly, poor quality would cost them a fortune on truck rolls to replace or service product. One or two episodes like that and all of the time designing great products would be wasted. Any hard-won reputation would evaporate. Again, not an option.
Another critical area was the ability to change quickly. Because Wahsega Lab’s may need to make changes to either components or firmware in response to a customer request or to correct a fault, receiving a product six weeks or more after an order limited how useful overseas production is in this case. Market timing can be critical when your products change at the pace of technology. It could be possible to receive an entire container of obsolete products when building in Asia.But what about cost?
Surely the labor costs in the States are so high that there is no way to make a profit, right? Somewhat unexpectedly, common wisdom fails again. In the end, the cost of building here in the U.S. doesn’t prevent Wahsega Labs from offering rock-solid products that can withstand difficult operating environments and come back for more. Indeed, Wahsega’s prices are actually lower than many of their competitor’s products that are built overseas! If Wahsega needs to make a change in the manufacturing process or switch out a firmware, they can meet with someone who they had lunch with yesterday.
In the end, the choice of where to build Wahsega products was logical. Lower costs. Quicker response times. Higher quality. Keeping jobs in the States. For Wahsega Labs, the generally accepted benefits of outsourcing were just one more myth to bust.
Obviously, this kind of success story wouldn’t be possible in every industry or even within niches to the degree that Wahsega Labs has enjoyed. It does make one wonder how many U.S. companies could make a difference by keeping U.S. jobs here at home. The time has come to turn conventional wisdom on its ear and encourage other domestic companies to at least research scenarios involving domestic production. It is a huge point of pride for Wahsega to be able to offer well-made, U.S. made products to our educational, health and other business sectors. As one of Wahsega’s executives quipped, “You can have your cake and eat it too.”