We live a world of immediate gratification, but not if you are in manufacturing. Generally speaking, you are going to be dealing with lead times, whether it is for sampling or production. You also cannot expect the level of customer service that you will find in the retail sector, where salespeople wait to indulge your every whim.
The best manufacturers are going to be busy, which often means that contact with key personnel may be difficult. Unreturned phone calls are not uncommon. Thick skin and tenacity are necessary attributes to being successful. Face to face meetings can often solve problems and move projects along quickly.
However, not only has manufacturing eroded in the United States, but in New York City, it is virtually nonexistent - most of my suppliers are located out of the region or country. The prospect of finding manufacturing suppliers in New York City is virtually nil.
Or so I thought.
I recently was acquainted with two plastics manufacturers, both in the Bronx, who had the capability to make products for me - Streamline Plastics and Pulse Plastics. Streamline had given me tremendously aggressive price quotations, so I was hopeful we could do business together. They supply companies who distribute novelty items, many made in Asia. Amazing, really.
A new project at Streamline, however, had stalled a bit over various details, so I scheduled a meeting in person. When I arrived, there was concern that I had street parked - Streamline has their own parking. Barbed wired and the absence of windows did worry me.
It was immediately clear on meeting the owner that this was a no nonsense operation. His cell phone was ringing non stop - this was a man in business to make products. Samples were waiting for me in the conference room. After just a short meeting with all the details worked out, Joe Bartner asked how many pieces I wanted and if I wanted him to run the job now.
I was perplexed. I asked what he meant by now - like right now? He said yes - a machine was free, and he could run 8,000 pieces of plastic as we spoke. And so he did. The very next day, I was informed that the order was ready to go - how did I want it shipped?
I also had arranged to meet with Pulse Plastics, located across the Bronx. This company breaks the rules and delivers on the unattainable trinity - Fast, Good and Cheap (well - at least very reasonable - see my story, Pick Two, from April 27, 2009.) After 35 years in business, Pulse is on my short list of top suppliers and is a contender for the Congeniality Award. Our office staff loves them - great service, good quality parts, the president is always available by phone, and they often run production the same day an order is received.
When I arrived, there was concern again that I had parked on the street - the owners routinely parked inside on the factory floor. I had previously discussed security issues in operating a business in many areas of the Bronx. When I showed dismay about the prospect of being in windowless buildings, owner Al Backleman laughed and joked that businesses don't have windows in the Bronx. Perhaps I should call the Bronx borough president and suggest a new slogan - Welcome to the Bronx - We Don't Do Windows :)