Monday, August 24, 2009

Sometimes it works the other way

HOUSTON -- Farouk Shami, a Palestinian-born hairdresser who built a $1 billion manufacturing company around a popular line of hair irons, is moving all of his production of hand-held appliances from China to a sprawling new factory here.

The move flies in the face of conventional wisdom, which says gadgets like this are best made in a low-cost country. But, he says, outsourcing has led to a loss of control over manufacturing and distribution.

"We'll make more money this way -- because we'll have better quality and a better image," says the 66-year-old, who says his company, Farouk Systems Inc., spends about $500,000 a month fighting counterfeits, most of which he says originate in China. The company collects the fake products and tracks the source, and then brings action in China to shut down illegal producers.

Mr. Shami figures having production under his nose will help him control quality and inventory, and also fight the fakes, since imported irons will automatically be suspect. He sells in 104 countries, but the U.S. represents over 60% of the company's sales.

"I think you're starting to see more manufacturers rethinking outsourcing," says Daniel Meckstroth, an economist at the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, a public policy and research group based in Arlington, Va., calling a June speech by General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt, where he said that overseas outsourcing had gone too far and that U.S. companies needed to expand domestic production, a "bellwether of what's happening in manufacturing."

1 comment:

alex said...

An interesting development and one that is reminicant of the maquiladoras post-NAFTA. After an initially rush to move manufacturing to Mexico, many firms found that the low productivity rates undermined the expected savings. A lot of those operations ultimately returned to the US. Are we now seeing a new market correction redirecting outsourcing toward equilibrium?

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