Some Words on Vendor Selection

Posted November 10th, 2016 by Bailey Jones

We have lost much of the meaning of the words, “quality control”.  It sounds like a good idea, and it is.  To me it sounds like a system that I would want to put in place once the company got big enough to funnel resources towards it.  Then we would get our guy with a clipboard checklist on the factory floor.  This misses the whole point.

Quality control is, simply, control of the supply chain.  This includes control of each of the individual purchased components, custom manufactured parts, assembly processes, and so on.  It begins with the very act of vendor selection.  What does this mean for a business with limited resources?  First, this means vetting all of your suppliers and manufacturers.  Do your key suppliers care that you exist? Are they responsive to questions over the phone and do they address your concerns?  Can you talk to the boss of your contract manufacturer and are you assured that they are committed to success of the project?  Secondly, the manufacturer should have internal quality control measures and they should be able to demonstrate that they work.  Your impressions here matter, even if you are a novice at vendor selection.  It is important that that your vendors and manufacturers are attentive to your business needs and concerns, and conversely, you to theirs.  It is a partner type relationship, and if you get a bad feeling, it probably is not a good fit.

Steve Fridley of Beam Lokr adds to this critical principle, “As a small company or entrepreneur you have to vet twice as hard as large corporations because the corporations have the resources and the money to weather a storm of difficulty whereas the entrepreneur does not.  And the supplier can kill your business right out of the gate.  That’s really critical.  Your margin of error is very small.”

Your insurance against catastrophe starts at this early stage of manufacturing.  Research the management team and philosophy of potential contract manufacturers.  Ask for references and check those references.  Be sure that they want, and need, your business.  A committed manufacturer will make a difference in your venture’s success.

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