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Thread: Becoming a supplier and how exactly that process works?

  1. #1

    Default Becoming a supplier and how exactly that process works?

    Hi everyone,

    I posted several months ago about wanting to start a little fixture business that provides small workholding products for the industrial/hobby machining market. The update is that I have one returning customer (an online retail business) and one product that I have worked on for weeks to reduce cycle times to make selling to retail possible. My customer has six employees and has done close to a million in sales before I entered the picture. This all started when I reached out to him through email and he replied back with an interest in what I had. So, I sent him a prototype and he was pleased with what he saw. Then, COVID hit and CA shut down which delayed his business in making purchases. After he was able to start doing business again we reconnected and he put in a PO for 4 units to see what reaction he would get out of his customers. To my surprise, they sold out in a week. So, he sent another PO and increased it to 10 units. This happened just a few days ago.

    So, I am very happy with this start. I see it as building a business relationship and reputation more than profits because I am not really making all that much per unit. Also, I have concerns that it will not be long before the sales cycle starts to show its maturity and eventual reduction which has brought me to ask on here about becoming a supplier for other businesses.

    I could make a living off of my product if I had about ten returning businesses. The trouble is that my current customer is the only one that has shown interest in my product (B2B that is). Enough interest to follow through anyway. I am trying to figure out why that is and if I am approaching this incorrectly. I have had individuals say that my fixture kit is nice and the price is good.

    I gave a machinist one as a gift and he was nice enough to actually include it in his YouTube video. It can be seen at the 4:22 minute mark. I figure it would be much easier to just watch the 30 seconds of him explaining what it is.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NxGppU9W3Ok

    This is the normal reaction I seem to get from people that have brought from me. Now, I am trying to figure out how I can get businesses to listen and give it a try.

    My fear is that I may be in a catch-22 situation. What I mean by that is that no one wants to bother with me because I don't have a name in the industry and I have to have a name in the industry to get attention from businesses that may wish to stock the product.

  2. #2
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    I can see this doing well with those who have a home shop; possibly well for custom test fixtures. If that's your product, you need to get a hold of Keith Rucker and get his endorsement.

    Find someone who specializes in aluminum widget production (think someone with newer Brother type machines) and get their opinion and quote on making these in minimum quantities of 100 pieces. You will want to move fast if sales start to take off as this is a kind of product that has a high probability of being knocked off.
    Brad Miedema
    Fulcrum Saw & Tool

  3. #3

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    Actually, I have my own means of production and I have calculated that I could produce about 400 units /month on my own.

  4. #4

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    I have emailed about 30 businesses so far and I have not received any replies. Naturally, I am wondering if that is just a simple matter of statistics with email solicitations or possibly a problem that I have not understood yet.

  5. #5

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    After thinking it over last night, I think what may be happening here is a case of simply getting the cart before the horse. Having a strong brand is probably very important and that is what distributors like to see. I may need to go at it on my own for a few years to self market and build my product line and then return to this spot and try again.

  6. #6

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    No doubt strong brand is very important to get distributors as well as promotion

  7. #7
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    As long as you have a biz plan, the marketing section if done properly will be your 'guiding map' as to having the answers for the who, where, when, why and how. Maybe look again, and start with the 'niche'. This sounds like you're looking for hobbyists? they are the ones to focus upon. You need more exposure for your biz and your marketing plan will help. Good luck!

  8. #8
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    plan your business (what you want to supply). Then plan the name and look for a wholesaler or deal with the manufacturer directly for supplying your product. create a social media account or website to market your products or services.

  9. #9

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    Maybe you should just sell them direct to the public first to prove there is demand for the fixture. For example, in the video Keith Rucker says that he built something similar a few years ago but then he says doesn't "use it a whole lot". It's going to be hard to convince any company to stock these items until you have enough sales to justify the inventory commitment. Also, by selling directly, you can increase your margins to a retail price to make it worth your while to produce them.

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