All Posts Tagged: paint
Manufacturing in America is alive and well. In our “Made Here” series, we talk to some of our manufacturing business clients and learn how they’ve flourished in spite of tough odds in recent years.
Brilliant Group Inc. develops and manufactures a world-class range of fluorescent pigments, soluble toners, and paint and ink concentrates for industrial users. Its colors end up in everything from crayons and textiles to nail polish. The eight-year-old company — which manufactures in Richmond, Calif., as well as overseas — expects to increase production in its U.S. facility, where founder and CEO Darren Bianchi says he can work more closely with customers on innovative products.
Many business owners could learn from Darren’s approach and outlook on the U.S. market, and I think his guidance for entrepreneurs, toward the end of the Q&A below, is terrific.
Q: Given the hurdles of being a manufacturer in the U.S., how have you been able to succeed and grow? A: The reason we’re manufacturing here, in the United States, is: (A) to be closer to the customer; (B) to control our innovations and intellectual property (IP); and (C) to be fast in our response time with our customers both in the product development cycle and also in the product delivery cycle. The U.S. market is an innovative one. As such, our customers here are demanding performance that is not required in some other markets. So, we can make the best product on the market here by listening to our customers, developing novel products that solve their problems, and controlling the IP. That is our differentiation in the market. The product quality is much higher than anything we could import. And why is that?
My colleagues and I have been in the industry for a long time. By understanding the market and understanding the chemistry of what we make, we can work with our customers to develop products that serve the market better than our foreign competition. Our foreign competitors are newer to the field, have less developed technology, and they’re just not as close to what is happening in the U.S. market as we are.Does an example come to mind, where maybe a customer has wanted some customized product?
We often make customized products by changing the shade and/or strength of a pigment or colorant. That is quite common. To answer your question, though, we have recently developed a whole new range of products for UV-cure printing. There is a lot of movement in this area in the U.S. and we’ve had customers drive the demand for the development of suitable products. As a result, we’re on the forefront of products for UV because we’re listening to the customer and where they’re going.Is inventory management and speed of delivery a factor?
Definitely. For example, we have some competition from abroad on conventional ink-based products. But the demand in the market is such that a foreign competitor can’t really manage the inventory. You have so many SKUs (stock-keeping units) to stock, so many items that you have to manage. It’s difficult for an importer to bring them in and bring the right ones in with the right amounts. They either have too much or they get stocked out. It’s hard to do when you have that kind of cycle. Being close to the market, we can make it in two days as opposed to bringing it in over three weeks or four weeks.What’s driving your strategy to on-shore more production?
Control and innovation. There’s control on the manufacturing side, but there’s also increased ability to conduct product development. There are a couple of different ways to approach change. There is step change, but there’s also incremental change. And the incremental change is much harder when you’re not controlling the manufacturing. With incremental change, you’re making little improvements all the time, and the next thing you know you’ve got a great big improvement. That’s very difficult to do with contract manufacturing.If somebody was thinking of starting a manufacturing business in the U.S., what guidance would you give them?
Have very good reserves and a plan for working capital and cash flow. In previous roles, I used to deal with financials all the time, but I was focused on profit. But I realize, when you’re doing it on your own, cash is everything. Be conservative with your forecast. Be prepared — it can be extremely lean, leaner than you would think. Entrepreneurs are optimistic by nature. So build some contingency plans into your forecast.What would you do differently if you were starting the business today?
If I were to have advice for somebody starting a business: Get people who can cover your blind spots. One needs to be self-aware and think about what those blind spots are. Then, find people who can augment your skill set and help you out with those things. I think the issue is entrepreneurs are often cash strapped early on, and we try and do it all — and maybe sleep once in a while.Read More ›