Uncovering New Market Potential
A moldmaking enterprise can help develop new and potential markets, create work and remedy our battered economy by being open to new markets of opportunity.
Over the past 15 years, a great majority of our North American production has migrated to coun-tries with lower labor cost. The financial community mostly bases its outsourcing decisions on the bottom line—the cost of manufacturing plus the cost of shipping and importing, which admittedly is still lower than the cost of manufacturing in North America. However, not included in the equation are the hidden costs—dependence on other countries to manufacture and meet our own product needs, which includes a reduced labor market in the manufacturing sector.
We are slowly tightening the radius of a downward spiral to the point that we will see ourselves without the qualified labor force to fill our manufacturing needs, which require highly skilled people. When we ship out our manufacturing needs, we also reduce the need for highly skilled labor, and at the same time, labor realizes a reduced need and veers away from training. We now need to rely much more on automation and high-tech capabilities in a very restricted field to meet the diminishing demand of domestic manufacturing.
Your comments most likely will be “Yeah, what else is new?” Or “OK, and how do we stop this?” The answer lies in our own backyards, but the solution requires perseverance, encouragement and some extra cash.
New Product Development
What is referenced here is that there are many inventors in our midst who continuously come up with new products that can fuel our economy if they are helped along the way. There are a multitude of new products being developed, which are worthy of our exploration, support and eventual exploitation in a positive sense.
Many projects die on the way to market due to a lack of financial and practical support, while others are abandoned because they become obsolete before the full development has been put in motion. This is a result of the inexperience of the inventors in the prototyping and manufacturing process. This is where the mold-making enterprise can enter the scene and develop new and potential markets and create new work for our battered economy.
Inventors offer our economies a new market for the development and production of new products, which should not be exported for processing outside of the U.S. and Canada for one simple reason: these products can re-establish new production of articles still unknown in the lower cost manufacturing countries, and enable us to re-build our skilled workforce in the process.
The potential exists here for entrepreneurs to get involved at the ground level of new market and product development by supporting inventors of all ages and categories—especially in the earlier stages because they often need the support of experienced manufacturers.
There are inventor associations or cooperatives in many large cities (see Inventor Associations/Cooperatives sidebar). Offers to get involved in prototyping will be very welcome and lead to the development of further inventor/manufacturer relationships. Your participation may be on a cost sharing basis, as investor of sweat equity for shares in the future product or even in taking over the product by developing it to a well marketed product against royalty fees. The greatest rewards will come in the production of brand new products and the re-establishment of some manufacturing and integrity in our domestic markets.
Most members of these inventor groups are happy to invent, but often manufacturing is not on their minds until the part works. The economics don’t come into play early enough either because the inventor has not yet thought about it or because the economical aspect of inventing (how to pay for development, market research and marketing, production tools and the process) does not fit into the inventor’s scope. Support from moldmakers creates the potential to develop otherwise doomed projects into gold mines within a fraction of the customary development periods of four to seven years.
The practical experience of qualified trades people also will be able to determine whether a product is a short-term or long-term project worthwhile patenting. In a short-term project, manufacture and marketing are started immediately before the public’s taste for a product grows stale. With a long-term project, a more careful approach is necessary to guarantee a solid product with a long—and patent-protected—market life. Short-term is a good moneymaker with fast returns on investment, while the long-term project will become a kind of a blue chip affair—a slow earner in the beginning, yet strong and steady during its long-term product life.
While it may seem that a moldmaker’s individual involvement in the re-introduction of skilled labor by working with inventors on new product development is minor, one might want to remember the old saying that in an avalanche, no snowflake ever feels responsible.
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