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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brainstorming facility in Texas

I was brainstorming with a friend about the "facility in Texas" post. I respect her vast range of experience in apparel. She shared her thoughts about some common expectations, costs and a vision. She did not wish to trouble herself with this blog business so she gave me a go-ahead to share her thoughts. Her thoughts inspired the following questions.

What if "manufacturers", or "contractors", that is, the individual(s) who bring workers together, revised the way in which they obtain their compensation?

Manufacturers commonly rely on big ticket orders from retailers for mass production of apparel items. When the volume, or specialization, is beyond their capability
they turn to contractors, those once-upon-time countless, tiny "workshops" whose lifeline attached directly to the manufacturer. Both, take their lion's share of
of money received for goods made then dole out meager wages to those who did most of the work.

Yes, that is the traditional and conventional way of business and one I reject. If manufacturers' and contractors' compensation expectations included their workers
first, the workers themselves would be their best agents to attract an expanding workforce. Hence, manufacturers and contractors could service so many more
clients.

Alas, the above is not a good fit in the present conventional apparel manufacturing model in Texas or anywhere.


What if retailers looked more closely at their advertising dollar to sales ratio?


Retailers spend huge bucks on advertising. Even independent retailers' smaller advertising costs weigh heavily on their accounts ledger. The Internet is here. Where are you? If, as my friend says, and I have written the same, buyers are shopping for "Made in USA" or "Made in Texas" they can find it readily without you spending precious dollars on advertising.

Akeen to the Internet is word-of-mouth. That, folks, is the original social internet even before MySpace. IF, you could sell less, but without the cost of advertising, know you have an expanding awareness of your business driven for you by your customers and end up with higher margins for yourself, which would you prefer?

Alas, the above is not a good fit in the conventional apparel retailing model in Texas or anywhere.



What if an interested party were to buy up old factories and refurbish them with modern technology and well-paid workers?

I do not know this is being done. I do know the jury verdict is pending on those old factories which went into full refurbishing mode even while laying-off excess workers.
Those were workers not necessary in the operation of the new, modernized, technologically, reborn factory. I have not checked how many of those continue, still. I do know a look at Texas state job market projections as near as 2008 and 20 years down the road show no signs of apparel life in the future. No, do not be alarmed. This is opportunity!

Even if the wonders of a modernized factory were to result in considerable worker wage increases one should bear in mind the number of those fortunate workers
would be a far cry from those employed in that same factory, formerly. Clearly, I am neither an economist nor a venture capitalist, but I see a very steep climb
for the investor's dollar before he could expect a return and a good one at that in this kind of deal.

Alas, the above is not a good fit in the conventional manufacturing model in Texas or anywhere.

I do not take credit for the phrase, but I think the consumer turned-up-nose attitude, "One size fits none" to ready-to-wear is manufacturing' s karma come back on them.
The Independent Contractor Network model is driven by the expectations members place on themselves. The costs of apparel production and retail are intimately
connected between member contractors and retailers. The vision is one of esteem and value, not just of business, but of the business of people. The benefits follow.

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