Manufacturing Growing Pains
With the product design in the bag, the search began for someone to make it a reality.
As two Yorkshire lasses, Sarah and I wanted to keep as much of our business in Yorkshire as possible – for practical reasons as much as supporting our home county. We rang and visited as many potential manufacturers as we could find. Time and time again we were turned away, either because we weren’t placing a large enough order, or because suppliers did not want to take a risk on a start-up. Sometimes manufacturers who appeared to have the right equipment to do the job would then call a week later and say their machines would not cut to the specification we needed.
We had a lot of false starts.
The first prototype was created in the Summer of 2014 but it took us another 4 attempts to get a manufacturer we could rely on.
We gradually had to widen our search to the rest of the UK and spoke with or visited potential manufacturers in the West Midlands, Liverpool, Brighton, Shropshire and Gwent – to name a few. At one point, we even made contact with some suppliers in Italy and Denmark as we found it more and more difficult to get the answers we needed locally.
The Tuffit may look like a simple little bit of kit…
…and hopefully it is extremely simple to use – but it is made up of a number of components. In total, we had to build up a list of 18 trusted suppliers to get to the finished product, and that’s just for the main Tuffit itself.
We are pleased to say that we have still managed to keep some of the business local. A big shout out in particular to our wood supplier – James Latham’s in Leeds – we owe a huge debt of gratitude to our account manager John who has gone above and beyond to help us get to launch.
We have learned a number of valuable lessons in starting up our own business, but one thing is definitely true. Nothing beats a face to face conversation. If you can look people in the eyes and they can understand your passion and determination, it goes a long way towards moving your business forward.
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