For tech startups, one fundamental misconception about overseas manufacturing stands out above all else: Cost. While startups many times manufacture overseas because they believe it to be cheaper, many fail to look beyond that initial assumption.

However, when all is said and done, and the full breadth of design, manufacturing, and delivery activities are taken into account, manufacturing abroad typically does not result in financial benefits. Instead quality, communication, and logistical challenges quickly eat away at what initially looked like attractive cost savings.

When thinking about the financial implications of your contract manufacturer’s location, a key set of questions should inform your decision:

  • What Size Organization Will Best Suit Your Needs?
  • Is Your Intellectual Property Sufficiently Protected?
  • Will an Offshore Manufacturer Meet Time to Market Requirements?
  • Can QA Requirements Be Met Now and In the Future?
  • Will Your Manufacturer Help You Get More Value from Your Employees?
  • What Impact Will Communication Challenges Have?
  • Will Currency Fluctuations and Related Issues Arise?
  • Multiple Vendors or a Single, End-to-End Partnership?

What Size Organization Will Best Suit Your Needs?

The weight a manufacturer gives your business, and thus the upfront and ongoing resources they will provide, is an important initial consideration. Even startups with significant initial production runs may face serious challenges receiving the attention they need from overseas manufacturers. This is simply because the landscape is dominated by very large organizations.

Furthermore, the lack of attention given to your product can result in downtime, quality issues, and other factors that have a real impact on your bottom line.

The size of U.S.-based operations, however, vary considerably. This means that, depending on a startup’s size and other circumstances, a new business working with a U.S. manufacturer can more reasonably expect to find a provider that suits their needs.

Is Your Intellectual Property Sufficiently Protected?

Is your intellectual property safe with a manufacturer on the other side of the globe? Given the history of IP protection issues in China and other manufacturing centers, this is a real concern for new startups – but one a new business is many times willing to overlook in order to achieve lower production costs.

The issue has a long history and is still – it will come as no surprise – very much in the forefront today. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s 2018 International IP Index ranked China 25th out of 50 countries when it comes to protecting innovations through rights laid out by law.

The U.S. ranked 1st.

Working with a U.S. manufacturer means protecting your business’s most valuable asset: Your intellectual property.

Will an Offshore Manufacturer Meet Time to Market Requirements?

It’s important to note that domestic solutions many times allow a business to bring a new product to market significantly faster than overseas providers. This is not solely due to geographic difficulties, but also because an end-to-end manufacturer will have shorter lead times when inevitable changes arise.

Nothing impacts a business’s bottom line more directly than a product idea that is not being brought to market. Doing so rapidly is a hallmark of U.S. manufacturing.

Can QA Requirements Be Met Now and In the Future?

Without your team present it’s difficult to ensure QA requirements are being met in real-time. Real partnerships based on trust are fostered through close collaboration and proximity. Without these partnerships, quality can fade over time. That is to say, even if your team ensures QA requirements have been met for an initial production run, future shortcuts or other unseen process changes can sometimes lead to quality issues.

A business should also be aware of additional efforts needed to ensure QA requirements are met from afar. Travel, downtime, and other costs can quickly have a serious impact.

Additionally, as consumers experience increased issues as quality fades, a brand’s reputation – and sales – can be affected.

Will Your Manufacturer Help You Get More Value from Your Employees?

By virtue of their working closely with a domestic manufacturer, your team will learn more about the manufacturing process. This in turn can inform future product design and innovation. For example, knowledge sharing with a manufacturer can help a tech startup ensure that Design for Manufacture and Assembly (DFMA) practices mean future products are designed – from the earliest stages – with optimal manufacture and assembly in mind.

Additionally, a U.S. manufacturer with an approach based on partnerships is many times able to provide all disciplines under one roof, allowing your employees to work with a single fully-informed team.

All this means that, again, your team will gain valuable insights while freeing up time to focus on core skill sets that help ensure future financial viability.

Will Communication Challenges Have an Impact?

Many businesses who work with overseas manufacturers face a number of communication issues brought on by language, distance, travel time, and longer-than-expected holiday delays.

It’s important for operations teams to stay in sync with the manufacturers they work with. That means the 12 to 15 hours that Shenzhen is behind U.S. time zones can have a real impact. The true costs associated with overseas manufacturing sometimes only becomes apparent after an agreement is finalized and work starts in earnest.

Launching a new product while staying on budget is difficult enough without these barriers, of course. This highlights another reason U.S. manufacturing is a competitive option for many tech startups.

Will Currency Fluctuations and Related Issues Arise?

If your finance team would prefer a model that does not need to account for currency fluctuations, tariffs, and potential trade conflicts, you may be well served by a U.S. manufacturer.

Manufacturing products at home means benefiting from a degree of stability that cannot be matched abroad, helping prudent businesses minimize risk.

Multiple Vendors or a Single, End-to-End Partnership?

The prospect of a single vendor providing a turnkey solution is another aspect of U.S. manufacturing that leads many startups to reconsider overseas organizations. By working with a startup during each phase – from the initial concept to product launch – a single manufacturer who questions contract manufacturing norms can provide invaluable solutions.

In short, with a U.S. partner, increased efficiencies available through vertical integration provide startups with benefits that cannot be readily matched by Chinese-based or other overseas manufacturers.

Recognizing Challenges Abroad and Unlocking the Potential of U.S. Manufacturing

As a full service contract manufacturer helping businesses bring new products to market, we understand that the collaborative process is more nuanced and involved than many startups initially realize.

A manufacturer with a partnership approach taking into account all aspects from concept to completion can help keep costs low. For startups based in the U.S., that type of partnership model is typically found in the U.S. This is because domestic manufacturers are more often the right size, employ full supply chain management and control, and work directly to quickly and efficiently implement changes.

This is why we firmly believe startups should explore all their options, question perceived norms, and work to fully understand the benefits and risks associated with this important early decision.

Learn more about MME group, Inc., and how we help startups excel.

We are Hiring! Visit Us To Discuss Exciting Career Opportunities

Join MME group June 13th from 4 to 7pm for a fun and informative career fair! Learn about exciting opportunities in the manufacturing industry, talk to experienced professionals, and enjoy complimentary food and beverages. Our open positions include both entry-level and senior roles with plenty of opportunity for advancement.

At MME group, our employees are more than a number. If you are seeking a career where you can focus on your unique goals, where you have long-term opportunities for career growth, and where you enjoy comprehensive and competitive benefits, be sure to visit us to learn more.

We are a results-oriented workplace. With a focus on our core values of personal accountability, teamwork, and open communication, we have spent decades building an enjoyable and productive work environment to help you thrive.

 

Open House Flyer and Available Positions

For more information and to RSVP contact Tracie at (651) 483-0965.

Location: MME group offices, 1025 Kristen Court St. Paul, MN 55110

Time: June 13th, 4-7pm

MME Group Company Logo

With large (750 ton) plastic injection molding presses, MME group is positioned to help companies in ways that other contract manufacturers are not. Working with a manufacturer with these capabilities means being able to produce large parts in significant volumes – and doing so more quickly and economically than many other full service contract manufacturers.

We are dedicated to providing a full range of plastic injection molding services for our clients. As a result we are well equipped with presses that range in size from 10 to 750 tons.

For clients who need our services quickly, are experiencing difficulties with their current manufacturer, or have overflow work that needs to be moved to another manufacturing partner, our robust transfer process is customized to each business’s unique needs. We pride ourselves in being responsive to timeline and logistics when it comes to transferring manufacturing work, and our process is entirely transparent.

Decreased Lead Times and Reduced Costs

Additionally, unlike many other manufacturers with large presses, at MME group, we have invested in the tooling capabilities necessary to build, repair, and maintain large molds. The result is decreased lead times and a far more beneficial and cost-effective process when something need to be adjusted or repaired.

Sophisticated robotics further help MME group minimize costs by reducing labor needs at the press. Additionally, as part of our lean manufacturing process, building assemblies directly at the press helps reduce product handling steps.

More Capabilities Under One Roof

To fully leverage a contract manufacturing relationship means seeking to – whenever possible – choose a partner who has wide-ranging capabilities under one roof.

At MME group, our investment in large plastic injection presses up to 750 tons is just one of many examples that showcase our technical expertise and dedication to end-to-end manufacturing solutions. This helps us ensure we meet the rigorous standards we have set for ourselves, the products we help create, and the service we provide to our clients.

Our clients also save time and money by minimizing the need to go to outside sources for large molded parts, which otherwise can add lead time, markup, and shipping fees.

If you are seeking a new manufacturing partner, or would like to simply learn more about our capabilities, contact MME group today.

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The MME group Team

MME group Inc. is proud to announce that we have received approval for two new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Certifications: ISO 13485-2016 and ISO 9001-2015.

These certifications show that MME group is well suited to manufacture medical devices meeting customer and regulatory requirements, and that the company has met ISO’s quality management principles.

In the world of contract manufacturing ISO certifications are all-important third party verifications that a company provides a high level of service with a demonstrated ability to meet key requirements important to any business seeking a manufacturing partner.

ISO is an international, independent, non-governmental organization which develops specifications to ensure quality, safety, and efficiency while promoting innovation and providing solutions to global challenges.

Of course, these types of certifications are nothing new to MME. In fact, we have long held ISO’s previous versions of these very same certifications – and are honored to once again display to ISO auditors our technical capabilities and customer-focused principles.

On May 5th, MME group will again participate in Moving Day® Twin Cities, a fundraiser walking event dedicated to organizing families, friends, and communities in the fight against Parkinson’s Disease.

If you would like to join us during this inspirational day, or seek to make a tax deductible donation, please visit our team page on the Moving Day® website. We are proud to announce that MME corporate matches all donations raised.

Making a donation on the site is easy, is a wonderful way to show your support, and is greatly appreciated. By benefiting The Parkinson’s Foundation Minnesota Chapter your donation will help improve the care of those affected and further research aimed at finding a cure.

Physical movement has been found to delay the effects of Parkinson’s Disease. Moving Day® Twin Cities participants walk in acknowledgement of those benefits and the enduring hope of finding a cure.

Please help us spread the word about this exceptionally important event.

Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC) Honors MME Group Vice President of Operations and HR

(Vadnais Heights, MN) On Wednesday, March 21st, at Vadnais Heights Commons, the VHEDC presented awards to several outstanding individuals for their excellence in business and their valuable contributions to the community.

VHEDC Executive Director Ling Becker says, “Congratulations from the entire VHEDC Board of Directors to David Gunderson on receiving the 2018 VHEDC Rising Star Award. We appreciate the opportunity to recognize emerging leaders in our community and the impacts they are making in their businesses and beyond.”

Rising Star Awards

Rising Stars Awards are presented to individuals younger than 40 years of age who demonstrate outstanding leadership that benefits the community and its citizens. Areas of outstanding service include working with youth, adults, and families to improve the northeast metro area. Leadership qualities include creativity, volunteerism, responsibility, problem-solving, respectfulness, cooperation and organizational skills. Leadership qualities are not limited to VHEDC activities and may include work for other organizations.

Alexandria Schumacher, Vice President of Operations and HR for MME Group

Alexandria has risen to the top of her profession in less than seven years from Customer Service entry level employee to VP level at a $20M+ manufacturing company that employees over 100 people. Alexandria began her climb to the top by recognizing the need to create a new role in the corporation to take a large load of the ownership. She built the role of Account manager plus an entire “Customer Experience Department” which services all customer needs. That success led her to accept the huge challenge of driving all company product operations. 

Alexandria directs all company product operations. She has created and empowered teams for continuous improvement, is changing the scheduling processes for two plants and coaching technical leads to grow their people. She has taken the company core beliefs of “treating everyone with dignity and respect” and built that into company culture. She has driven and installed a mandatory management leadership training program, coordinated for others to have continuing education courses and is collaborating to help send technical people to out-of-state conventions for their exposure and educational purposes.

Alexandria’s drive does not stop at MME group. She has another company that is an LLC with large goals to own several luxury hotels in the future. Her efforts today are also coupled with her goals for the future of her own private company.

About VHEDC

The VHEDC is a private non-profit organization made up of investing businesses since 1984. Its mission is to enhance economic development in the City of Vadnais Heights and the surrounding areas through the attraction, retention and expansion of existing businesses and industries. This will be accomplished by serving as a conduit of economic development resources, building collaborations with strategic partners, and providing advocacy.  For more information about the VHEDC, contact Executive Director Ling Becker at 651-485-9532 or lingbecker@vhedc.com.

When people talk about millennials in manufacturing, preconceptions abound. They are seen as having a poor work ethic, being in constant need of praise, and possessing no loyalty to their employers. Not only have we found these stereotypes to be divorced from reality, but, far from succumbing to the demands of an entitled generation, we’ve seen firsthand how embracing the expectations of a millennial workforce can help manufacturers succeed.

The Workforce of The Future (And The Present)

Millennials will make up 35 percent of the global workforce by 2020. Not only that, but millennials aren’t just “kids.” Some are approaching forty. In other words, they can’t and shouldn’t be ignored.

To ensure manufacturers have a talented pool of trained professionals to draw from, they need to work to correct outdated misconceptions about the manufacturing industry and ensure they are fostering a culture that is attractive to a generation with a new set of expectations and norms.

And, when we talk about millennials’ professional ”expectations” and “norms” it’s important to remember that every generation has had them. These concepts were certainly not invented for today’s young workers. In our experience, when even the smallest amount of skepticism is applied, the stereotypes about millennials quickly unravel.

How Millennials Are Changing Manufacturing… For The Better

Younger workers are certainly challenging more traditionally-minded employers in their desire to change long-standing practices. Certainly that is true in manufacturing. However, what many modern manufacturers are learning is that the rewards – in recruiting, retention, productivity, and innovation –  far outweigh the costs of changing policies. And, when new policies and procedures are implemented, and leadership embraces change, a cultural shift is sure to follow.

In a 2017 Gallup poll, millennials were found to desire flexibility when and where they work, seek work with a purpose, hope to speak more frequently with superiors, and display a willingness to change employers when the fit isn’t right (though they were found to value stability).

Meeting those expectations head-on means fostering an engaged and innovation-focused workforce where everyone – not just millennials – can grow and thrive.

Connected And Dedicated

Being connected to everyone and everything at all times is obviously something millennials have embraced throughout their lives. This, more than anything, has upended traditional models of the workplace.

The trade-off for millennials raised in the internet age means that, yes, they are willing to be available more often, and from more places, than their predecessors. But in exchange they require flexibility about when and where they work.

Some industries have embraced this change and the benefits of an always-connected workforce more rapidly than others. To be sure, in our view, when logistically possible, the trade-offs seem to benefit both employers and employees. However, more traditional industries like manufacturing still – in many cases – are in the process of undergoing this cultural shift.

When a company culture embraces the freedoms that technology provides, millennials are incredibly productive, dedicated to a company and their future in it, and are important collaborators throughout the manufacturing process.

Purposeful Work is Good Work

The drive to find work with purpose is another reason for manufacturers to embrace the expectations of today’s younger workers. When being part of a production team means more than checking a box, and instead involves a team of people invested in helping businesses and individuals succeed, everyone benefits.

And, no matter what the role, there’s always room to foster individual talents. When ideas are encouraged from contributors across an organization, not only are valuable insights gained, but those who want and need to feel a sense of purpose understand they have a voice and their talents are being utilized.

Manufacturing Has Its Own Stereotypes

Despite possessing advanced technologically capabilities and using them to build the world’s most sophisticated products, manufacturers are still seen as outdated by many young entrants to the workforce. Some students do not see engineering and other manufacturing-oriented paths as a modern career choice. This could not be further from the truth.

Education and outreach regarding today’s modern manufacturing industry is required – and required early – to ensure an eager young generation of skilled professionals is available to manufacturers.

On a micro-level, individual organizations also benefit from these outreach efforts by establishing relationships early for an increasingly frictionless recruiting process.

Reaching Millennials

Once an organization sees past the stereotypes and recognizes the incredible strengths this young generation of professionals possess, the next question is, how do you reach them?

Even during the recruiting process a company can drive home some of the concepts that millennials expect from employers. At MME group, Inc., for example, we are open to creating unique job descriptions based on an individual candidate’s skills and interests. When desired and appropriate, we let candidates know we see real benefits in catering roles specifically to them.

We also recommending extensive outreach to educational institutions to highlight – through real world examples – the benefits of careers in manufacturing, the technological innovations teams take part in, and opportunities for advancement.

Finally, reaching millennials where they live – online – can help set manufacturers apart by conveying key aspects of the company culture, the team, and the experience.

The Future is Bright

When we see the dedication our young generation of professionals brings to the table, we can’t help but be bullish on the future of manufacturing. They are a workforce that is raring to go and eager to learn. As more and more manufacturers recognize that the stereotypes about millennials are, in reality, benefits, we can’t wait to see what the future brings.

Learn More About MME group

Explore MME group Careers

Every entrepreneur faces a series of daily decisions that are crucial to achieve success. For startup entrepreneurs, endeavoring to finding the right contract manufacturer is one of the most impactful and – when thoroughly considered – the most beneficial. For established and growing businesses the decision is equally important. Hard lessons may have already been learned, or current partners may not be sufficiently agile to meeting demands.

To help innovators understand how to approach this decision, we’ve compiled a checklist of the most immediate and important questions that every business – whether newly created or firmly established – should ask to ensure they get the most out of their contract manufacturing partnership.

 

The Checklist

 

      • Is the contract manufacturer vertically integrated, with full control of the supply chain?

 

      • Do they have a rapid change cycle and in-facility testing, with design and manufacturing professionals collaborating in close proximity?

 

      • Does the contract manufacturer provide leadership in coordinating other suppliers while serving as a central hub to ensure timeliness and quality?

 

      • Does the manufacturer practice open communication and partnership with other suppliers, without protecting markups or other business details?

 

      • Do they incorporate a MSA (Manufacturing Supply Agreement) that is developed in partnership with business leadership, providing expert guidance about inventory needs and strategy?

 

      • Does their team include a range of professionals with specialty areas of expertise, and a culture that encourages them to bring forward solutions – even when it means challenging business norms?

 

      • When making recommendations, do they help business leaders understand the pros and cons of each proposed solution?

 

      • Do they have extensive support that meets the needs of a fast-moving business?

 

      • Do they effectively use Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) software for materials costing and other benefits?

 

      • Do they serve entrepreneurs as their core mission, or have they carved out specific services in an attempt to partner with entrepreneurs?

 

Partnerships Models are Changing

If there is one truism reflected in this checklist, it’s that partnership models are changing. Norms are being questioned. Entrepreneurs expect solutions from manufacturers, not just the ability to follow direction. Truth be told, at MME group Inc., we think today’s business leaders deserve nothing less.

 

Download Checklist PDF

Learn More About MME group

Any business working with multiple partners to manufacture a product has likely faced a similar set of challenges. Coordination can be difficult, parties may have competing interests, and project costs and lead times suffer as a result. Not only that, but a segmented workflow can make it difficult for expert suppliers to question traditional practices and bring forward new solutions.

Worse still, sometimes this is just “the way it’s done.” It’s time to question these assumptions.

During the product development lifecycle there is certainly no shortage of questions businesses should attempt to answer. How will issues large and small be communicated and acted on quickly? Will a beneficial partnership with open communication be maintained across all contributors? Will there be real opportunity to benefit from the wealth of knowledge manufacturing partners have in the category, or are individual parties protecting their piece of the pie?

These are not abstract questions. During our long history we have seen many businesses tackle these considerations head on, and we have never shied away from sharing our perspective in recommending the best course of action.

A New Way to Think About Contract Manufacturing

Though each project warrants its own assessment, experience tells us that many businesses benefit from working with an experienced full service vertically integrated contract manufacturer to fulfill needs that otherwise would require input from multiple manufacturing partners.

We’ve found that, all-too-often, a circuit board manufacturer or other single component supplier is responsible for assembling elements from multiple parties. This can lead to a multitude of inefficiencies. Compounding the problem, those responsible for assembly many times have no experience manufacturing components using the materials used by the other suppliers.

Still, this is many times seen as the “way things are done. ” This warrants a fresh look at typical contract manufacturing relationships and responsibilities, and the benefits of structuring partnerships differently.

Shorter Lead Time

When a circuit board manufacturer or other supplier who does not have complete control of the plastics associated with a product determines a change is needed during assembly or testing, the resulting back and forth communication required can turn even a simple change into a days-long delay.

At MME group, we know that when you are vertically integrated and are responsible for the full breadth of components in a product, a quick team re-group can determine what adjustments are needed. Simply put, an integrated team of experts can help bring a product to market more quickly.

Cost Savings

Though many businesses initially seek efficiencies by working with various manufacturers to produce product components – with one organization ultimately responsible for sourcing and assembly – there are additional costs associated with that approach that are not always considered.

When a manufacturer brings in components for assembly it must be stored and inspected. Additionally, if any challenges do arise, logistical demands mean finding a solution also comes at an additional cost.

This, again, is where partnering with a single, experienced team in control of all aspects of the supply chain provides real benefits.

Utilizing Expert Knowledge

When truly partnering with a contract manufacturer a business benefits from that manufacturer’s years of experience and expertise. When manufacturing responsibilities are diffuse, expert opinions can be diffuse as well.

An overly aggressive division of responsibility can lead to each manufacturing partner fulfilling their obligation to the best of their ability – though without the necessary context to help a business make holistic decisions. What are the tradeoffs of each decision regarding materials, sourcing, assembly, and all associated costs? Is each manufacturing partner just working with – or even “dealing with” – what they view as sub-par components from other manufacturers? Is there a better way that is falling through the cracks?

These are questions that true partnership with a contract manufacturer can help answer.

An Extension of Your Company

The manufacturer you work with should be an extension of your company that serves as a true solutions provider. This view encompasses everything MME group does, and in our view is the key paradigm shift contract manufacturing needs.

Valued clients and prospective clients,

As of October 2nd, MME is pleased to announce the return of Alexandria Schumacher as Vice President of Operations & HR.

Miss Schumacher brings with her a commitment to drive our company’s core beliefs…provide a truly world class partnership experience for our current and future clients…and to apply her expertise to foster an environment of respect and collaboration with our partners and associates.

This is an exciting time in MME’s development, as Miss Schumacher’s return adds a new chapter to our 44-year history as a box build contract manufacturer with full supply chain management and control. Rest assured, the pillars of our approach to business will remain unchanged:

  1. All of MME’s associates will continue to give their best efforts to provide you with a world class partnership experience.
  2. Our entire suite of full contract manufacturing services is still at your disposal, and it will evolve and grow with the addition of new products and services when appropriate.
  3. MME’s belief in open and honest communication will continue.

We are grateful to you, our valued customer, not only for giving us the opportunity to provide you with Contract Manufacturing services, but for your loyalty and friendship, which have enriched our relationship. We are confident that this partnership will serve us all well.

If you have any questions about this exciting news and what it will mean for you, please contact any of us at any time.

Miss Schumacher

Miss Schumacher
MME group Vice President
aschumacher@mmegroupinc.com