It’s no longer a secret that I’m making great strides in bringing manufacturing and production back to our shores. A few years ago, my colleagues in the bicycle industry laughed at the notion that it would be possible for me to bring business back to the United States. I recall a few years ago when another colleague of mine told me that I wouldn’t last six months in an oversaturated market within the bicycle industry. If you know anyone that knows me well they’ll tell you that if you tell me it can’t be done, I’ll do everything it takes to prove you wrong. I guess I’m ferocious that way.
My company is iRT Wheels (aka Inertia Racing Technology), makers of carbon fiber racing wheels for both consumer and prosumer disciplines. It’s been over 4 years since I was given those six months and we went from a company that started out from my garage to a modest warehouse in Pasadena, California. Starting with only 2 lines of products, we now have over 10 lines of wheels and everything is hand-built right here in our facilities.
You know, a little over a decade ago, it took millions of dollars to produce your own film. Now, you can shoot your own film using affordable cameras and edit them on your home computer. Control was given to every day people like you and me and turned normal people into professional filmmakers. These days there’s no excuse why you can’t produce your own film from the comfort of your own living room. This opportunity has come to us again and control is being given to you. The only question that remains is what you choose to do with it.
There are a few things that make a company unique. In my industry, it’s innovation and the ability to come up with something new. Once upon a time production was taking place in industrial areas of the US and one day we lose almost 90% of manufacturing to Asia, maybe more. In our case, our innovation is in the design and aesthetics of, for example, our bicycle hubs and the “something new” part is simple…bringing production back to the United States. Think about it – it’s new again.
So about that opportunity I was talking about…
Our engineer and production manager designed a unique wheel hub for us. We’d then take that .stl (Solidworks) file and send it to Taiwan and have a prototype sent back to us at the cost of between $7,000-$8,000 dollars. That doesn’t include programming time, shipping costs or even the price of waiting. That same hub, had we sent it locally or at least a CNC shop anywhere West of the Mississippi, would have cost us closer to $10,000 and up to $16,000 if we hired a bicycle hub company to produce it under the condition that we’d place an MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) with them. Now keep in mind that these are the associated costs of the initial prototypes. It doesn’t even factor in the costs should there me slight alternations that needed to be made on the design. By the time you’ve fine-tuned the design, we’d have gone well over $20,000 and we haven’t reached production yet.
As they say, it’s the price of doing business, right? Bullshit.
So I’m going over our expenses and I come up with this crazy idea that my partner has zero