22 Tips for Healthier Offshore Manufacturing Relationships
When the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) hosted its annual Publishing University conference in Chicago in early November, publishers, printers and vendors who attended the “Offshoring” session were provided with tips, advice and a few fair warnings about partnering with offshore manufacturers. Jennifer Butenschoen, director of production at Harvest House Publishers, which publishes Bibles, self-help titles and gift books, presented a 90-minute crash course on the topic, during which she offered tips that Book Business readers should find useful in evaluating their own offshore manufacturing strategy.
More than 100 million Harvest House books have been sold worldwide since the company’s conception in 1974. Now publishing more than 160 titles per year, Harvest House books are sold in 75 languages. Butenschoen joined the company a dozen years ago and has extensive experience in cultivating long-term, successful relationships with foreign manufacturers. Her presentation explored a number of offshore manufacturing considerations, including how to decide what products should be produced where, evaluating whether to use a broker or work factory-direct, effective communication strategies and the dangers of hijacked content.
Deciding Which Products to Produce Where
1. Be informed about the printer’s equipment and its fit with your needs. When evaluating a potential offshore partner, make sure the printer not only possesses the equipment your project will need, but also is adept at using that type of equipment. Plenty of printers are capable of producing a wide variety of projects, but be sure to request samples to ensure that their craftsmanship with that type of equipment is up to your standards.
2. Realize that, in most cases, you get what you pay for. If your quote seems too good to be true, it probably is. “There’s a difference between inexpensive and cheap,” says Butenschoen. To be sure you know the difference, request a variety of samples before awarding any work. Then, upon assigning the work, request that a dummy be made from your specified materials.