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Private Label Manufacturing?


Has anyone done any private label manufacturing for anyone? If so how has it worked out for you? I have been an executive corporate furniture designer for 25 years and I'm branching out on my own,
and before I use an offshore manufacturer I really would like to make a go at it with domestic facility and see if it is feasible.

Thank you.

1/30/18       #2: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
the google Member

what are you looking to produce and in what quantity?

plenty of shops that can help on this site.

1/30/18       #3: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

Since it is a start-up it would be a small collection of 18-24 items in 8-12 finishes.
The items would have to be delivered in 6-8 weeks, and ideally, I don't want to carry any inventory for the first year, after the first year I'll have enough information for forecasting and then I'll be able to buy multiples for inventory for a quick ship program.

1/30/18       #4: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

Sorry I did not answer your question the primary items would be casegoods, like sideboard/consoles, chests, bookcases, media centers, a few occasional items.

1/30/18       #5: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
the google Member

interesting stuff. i won't pretend to know as much as you, but 18-24 items in 8-12 finishes sounds like a lot of stuff (144 items min). i'm not sure if anyone would take that much inventory on for a start up, but 6-8 weeks should be doable to build them to order.

good luck.

1/30/18       #6: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
rich c.

Sounds like you want a business partner if you want them to carry the inventory for a year while you figure out what sells. I'm not good enough at that kind of math to calculate the number of pieces to be held when you have 24 items in 12 different finishes. You're going to have a very high unit price during that first year!

1/30/18       #7: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

Sorry, I was not clear, I don't want anyone to carry inventory, just the ability to be able to make 18-24 items in 8-12 finishes. Most of the items are already designed with CAD drawings completed and if necessary individual DXF part drawings.

1/30/18       #8: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
the google Member

robert - what is the volume you anticipate?

it sounds very doable with drawings already completed. i assume you have specs on wood species, finishes and/or textures. i'm assuming you already have a sales channel/distribution.

build to order within 6-8 weeks, i wish we had as much time to turn in our stuff. why not take this to someone local to you? any thoughts on partnering (financially) with a shop to get this done? it sounds like a good opportunity for the right shop.

1/31/18       #9: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

Anticipated volume, I don't know it could be a big bust? I'll probably know within the first 6 months if it is a viable business model, I don't expect anything grand out of the gate but I think a gradual momentum will build.

I have clear sales channels and distribution set up.

I've looked locally and have some good contacts, but I thought I would throw a boulder net on WoodWeb and see if there are any gems out there.

I'm mean and lean at this time and would not want to financially partner with anyone just establish a strong vendor/supplier relationship. Maybe in the far future a partnership or buyout.

1/31/18       #10: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
David R Sochar Member

While the manufacturer will not need to carry inventory, what they will have to do is develop drawings, production design, jigs and process for 18-24 items. Then build the first one (x 18-24) to see if it pans out as anticipated, cost-wise. This is huge. I would expect the first one to cost 2-4 times the cost once these can be run as a product.

I once saw a pile of commercial salad bars go up in smoke as they were destroyed to make way the final approved design.

Materials will also have to be procured on a bit by bit basis instead of full units of whatever, at increased cost, again.

I have had several people approach me over the years with various designs they wanted produced. Even if I backed off the initial costs somewhat, things got expensive enough where they spooked. They never understood these costs, and wanted me to absorb them.

1/31/18       #11: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
rich c.

As David says, we've all had this kind of "opportunity" if you've been around long enough. I even had a guy come to me to make one-hitter boxes, and I'd make a fortune! This kind of deal usually means the designer wants the samples for free or reduced cost since the opportunity for growth is nearly certain for the guy doing all the work!
Sure, the shop "doesn't have to carry inventory", except small shops may have 6 months of back log. That means breaking into that production to meet your 6-8 weeks. It also means if the materials are a bit unusual, he has to carry that in stock since a couple of weeks could be eaten up with procurement. I'm sure you'll find someone, good luck with your endeavor.

2/1/18       #12: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
Gary Balcom Member

Website: http://www.Atlantacabinet.com

If you want to be serious, you're going to have to be willing to pay the shop to develop their process for your products and some "first article" items. It's the only fair way...Why should they absorb your costs of market testing?

Many of us have had carrots waved in front of our noses. Upfront money talks in this situation.

2/1/18       #13: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
Robb Parker  Member

Website: http://www.HeritageWoodwright.com

Totally agree with Gary. But I'll bite and be interested in looking at your design and drawings. No promises. Be interested in filling idle time for CNC.

2/2/18       #14: Private Label Manufacturing? ...
Paul Miller


If you are going to take this idea to a shop, have more than your design and drawings. Tell them what you expect to pay. I have had ideas similar to this in the past and we can go through all the pricing etc and then to be told our price is too high.

Most furniture outlets, I believe mark the product up 100%. But, I do know of Amish shops that do sell furniture in this way.

2/2/18       #15: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

I too have been down this road. David's reply is dead on. Development costs never seem to be understood. An under estimated cost is packaging furniture for shipping, shipping costs for LTL and the damage rate. Furniture size boxes in small/any quantities are expensive, take a lot of space along with the corner protectors, edge protectors, treated paper to prevent rub marks, banding, pallets..... And the labor time to package are just killers. I don't want to rain on your parade but the facts are it is probably way more expensive than you would have thought. Been there, done that. Good luck. Let us know how it turns out.

2/4/18       #16: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

Website: http://northcreekwoodworks.com

What you are looking for is exactly what we do, though we mostly do office furniture. I get several design guys with nice designs calling a year, Never had one work out. The cost of marketing is usually the deal breaker. My biggest customers spend 10's of millions for showrooms, catalogs, photography, websites Neocon etc. And sometimes it all goes down the drain. I would suggest you pay someone to build you prototypes and put then on a web site, promote it and see if it flies, Making them offshoe is a minefield, plus "local " is a good marketing tool. Ever watch Shark Tank? They would eat you up. No offence.

2/4/18       #17: Private Label Manufacturing? ...

"I have clear sales channels and distribution set up." It would seem those people would be able to give you a good idea of sales prospects. I manufacture for two guys that primarily sell store fixtures and office reception areas. They both tried manufacturing themselves but went bust. Now they have a computer and a slick web site that makes it sound like they are big time manufactures. We make all the product and ship it with their documentation. I'm surprised it works but they've done it that way for quite awhile.

"CAD drawings completed and if necessary individual DXF part drawings." Those would be design drawings and not production drawings. Two very different things. The manufacturer will need to convert your drawings into parts that fit the manufacturing facilities methods & equipment. They can, most likely, value engineer costs out of the products that result in little if any change in the visible design. If you are working in sheet materials sometimes very small changes can result in optimization of the nest. Same with curved moldings. The trick there is to have the profile suitable for the intended cutting radius.

We produced furniture to someone else's design for a few years but ultimately it all went to China or Vietnam.

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