There comes a point in any company's growth where hard decisions need to be made. That point came to BOgear about 6 months ago. Our FRS Strap Ons were the instigator; demand was outstripping supply. With our existing set up we simply could not continue manufacturing the Straps while also expanding our product range or refining our existing products. One would unfortunately come at the expense of the other.
After much deliberation, the solution became clear. We needed to outsource. It is a scary concept for a company that prides itself on quality and connectedness to the manufacturing process. We found ourselves in the classic manufacturer's dilemma: do we move to an outsourced factory and run the risk of losing quality, ideals, and customer support, or continue to manufacture in a small studio and stifle the growth of the business?
By outsourcing, we can keep up with demand and continue designing new and better products. It also means we can sign up for more community and environmental programs, such as 1% For The Planet. Although some BOgear supporters may not agree with this, we see it as a step in the right direction. We believe it will allow us to grow, maintain the quality of our products, and most importantly, enable us to give something back to the communities and environment which supports us.
After choosing to outsource, we really only had two options: domestic or international. Although we wanted to keep things local, sewn manufacture as a domestic trend has been slowly shrinking, with the majority of companies moving offshore. On a basic level, what this means is local talent and skills have been diminishing, while international manufacturers have become increasingly specialised. Unfortunately, this left us with limited to no available domestic options. Even our highly talented pool of machinists, who between them have over 73 years experience, had difficulties with our FRS Strap Ons. The highly abrasion resistant material makes them frustratingly hard to sew. That meant our options were narrowed to one. Go international.
And so we come to that C-word. China. There is much negativity surrounding the idea of having products "Made in China". It tends to instantly bring to mind sweatshops and child labour. At BOgear we are acutely aware of these issues, and as such, we set about the process of outsourcing responsibly. We chose a factory which came highly recommended by colleagues in the industry and has an excellent reputation. While we are not able to do so now, our aim is to eventually send a staff member to inspect the factory. We believe we have managed to find a factory that is both honest and hard working, which also produces work of a high quality. Yet rest assured we will admit our mistakes if we find we are wrong.
This was a hard decision we had to make, yet we know it was the right one. We hope you will continue with us for the ride!
Phew! Being serious and responsible is exhausting! We promise to be a bit more light hearted in our next post!