So You Want to be a Successful U.S. Manufacturing Entrepreneur?Your Trade Organization's Resources Can Fast-Track Ideas Into Reality
Sally Kay ~ THA President/CEO
Recently, I attended the grand opening of THA member, Manufacturing Solutions Center's (MSC), new and expanded facilities in Conover, NC. MSC is a textile and non-textile manufacturing business accelerator and high-tech testing lab under the umbrella of Catawba Valley Community College (CVCC) in Hickory, NC.
This event was no run of the mill (one of the manufacturing biz' many contributions to American vernacular) ribbon cutting. Rather it was a celebration of success - business success, employment success, and community success - and it resulted from smart, strategic partnerships working effectively in establishing competitive processes and co-investments.
But how are successful partnerships developed? Say you have an idea for the world's best widget. It fills a void like none other. How do you transform your idea into reality before your competition does? How do you comply with Federal (and state) consumer safety, environmental and trade regulations? What are those regulations? How do you offer custom made versus standard? What if you are currently sourcing offshore but want to research potential U.S. suppliers?
Just breathe - your industry's nonprofit trade organization is the networking matchmaker that successfully turns your ideas into realities.
I should know. The Hosiery Association (THA) has been the catalyst for helping to launch some of the world's most successful businesses. Have you ever heard of Spanx? Company founder Sara Blakely contacted us with her idea for footless hosiery. We worked closely with Sara to provide general industry information, technical resources and supplier candidates. Since that time, coupled with a tremendous amount of sweat equity, the Spanx brand has flourished and diversified in a variety of legwear and shaping products. How about Boottights? Company founder Shelby Mason grew tired of putting socks over her sheer hosiery/tights for extra warmth/comfort when wearing boots. These products are now available in stores across the country. And perhaps Sassybacks? No woman enjoys displaying the "bra back bulge" and this garment offers both comfort and a smooth silhouette. Yet another example of a successful business that worked with us to fill another void in the widget world.
In the case of MSC, as a member of THA, the company receives tremendous exposure for its manufacturing services to potential clients - fellow THA members. No cold calling needed. THA members are pre-qualified and ready to meet and do business with one another. Entrepreneurs, legacy brands, partners, support services, direct competitors - everybody in the vertical supply chain collectively enjoys the financial benefits of group testing, legislative advocacy, category publicity and social media amplification.
The U.S. economy needs your innovation and entrepreneurial spirit. At the grand opening, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce and COO of U.S. Economic Development Administration Matt Erskine said, "Where you move the needle in manufacturing in America, you move the needle in the overall economy."
MSC's Director, Dan St. Louis, pointed out "Although American made products cost more, they are in demand overseas because of the better quality and faster delivery time. Now, international companies are sending their reps to the U.S. to observe the process."
Reinvention is now vital to manufacturing across the United States. The manufacturing industries are the new engines to drive the U.S. economy and they need regional economic support to do it. Technology, sustainability and innovation are now critical components in manufacturing for both startups and dyed in the wool (another manufacturing term!) businesses. Networking via trade organizations simplifies the road to reaching these goals from overwhelming to strategically effective.
As Conover Mayor Lee Moritz, Jr. said at the grand opening, "We have the talent pool already here. We just needed to connect them to the opportunities."
Unleash your creativity. Leverage technology to the hilt. Embrace ingenuity.
We are here to help...every step of the way.
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