INTERNATIONAL VS. DOMESTIC MANUFACTURINGBehind The Bend
by Eric Stauble·
We hope this finds everyone having a great Friday. We are at the end of our Friday here in Bohol, Philippines. Our journey so far has truly been an eye opening experience about a lot of different things. We have learned about techniques and materials that are used today in modern design, but have been in use for thousands of years. We’ve had the chance to see our products in use on the other side of the globe from where we live, and have been lucky enough to shake the hands of the artists who consider and apply them to their projects. We are lucky to be a global company and have people all over the world supporting us. The funny thing is, the one question that everyone seems to have is “Where do you make your products? Abroad or at home?” The Answer to that question seems so simple but it’s something that we put a great amount of thought into almost everyday. We thought we would use this edition of Behind the Bend and address that very topic.
The current answer to the question of where the goods are made is that it’s split. All of our designing and prototyping is done in downtown Los Angeles, and about 50% of the goods are made there as well. The rest are made in different factories in Asia, many of which we have been working with for a long time. We consider these factories to be part of our team and we have watched them grow and become masters at their craft through the years. We make regular visits out there and they treat us like family every time. That still begs the question why abroad over the US.
That is where things get a little more complicated. When most people find out a product is made anywhere outside the US, the assumption is that money is the only answer. For us it’s less about money and more about how we want our products to be made. For our chairs to be as comfortable as they are, the wires need to be as close together as possible. The only real way to do this is by hand. It is truly a painstaking process; trust us, we know first hand. At the beginning we were hard pressed to find a factory in the US that would even consider making us samples. They wanted everything machine made and all of the designs would always end up being changed to cut corners and find an easier way to go about the build. That’s just not something that we are interested in doing. We aren’t looking to make our product abroad we are looking to make them correctly.
We love the United States and feel very blessed to live in what we would consider the greatest country in the world. Trips like the one that we are on definitely reaffirm that sentiment, but the fact is the world needs our help too. The poverty levels on a global scale are truly unbelievable. When you travel to countries where a majority of the population is at or below the poverty line it shakes you to your core. Seeing things like young children bathing in drainage canals with water that you wouldn’t even want to smell let alone put on your body is eye opening. All you can think, is what can I do, right now?
We are of the mind that one thing we can do to help is give them work and let them provide for themselves and be able to give back to their communities. That is truly all most people want, to be proud of their lives and feel like they are able to provide for their families. We have seen that first hand during this trip. Once you decide you want to start working with them, your job then is to make sure that the work force is being taken care of properly, fairly and above all legally. We want to help, not become another part of the problem.
We take trips like these because if we are considering working with a factory, to us it is mandatory to visit the facility and see first hand what the conditions are like. We also visit many factories in the states and the same policy applies. It’s a must for us to meet with the owner, tour the facility and ask a lot of tough very detailed questions. We look to work with people who respect their work force and have internal policies in place that exceed the minimum legal standards. These things are just important to us and at the end of the day it’s just the right thing to do. I guess doing the right thing is simply our number one policy when it comes to every aspect of Bend.
Well, we hope that this has given you some real insight behind the Bend. We love what we do and we are grateful to those who keep us moving forward. If you ever have any questions about how or why we do what we do, feel free to drop us a line. We love nothing more than an open dialogue on all topics design. Who knows, you might just inspire a Behind the Bend topic. Until next week, we hope you have a great weekend, wherever you are in the world.