What I’m Working On – U.S. Niche Manufacturing & Strategy

Marlowe Lantern With Rondelle Glass - Remains Lighting

Last summer I accepted a new position at a New York City design company. The seventeen year-old privately owned company also operates a manufacturing facility (factory) in Brooklyn. The days I work from the factory, my friends get a big kick out of asking me “How was your day at the factory?!” – a sentiment of a bygone era when many of my friends’ parents (of Western Pennsylvania) worked in manufacturing.

My role runs across multiple strategic business functions: sales processes, operational efficiency, and decision-making practices that will take us from our success now into future growth. What I’ve learned and experienced along the way is how much of my work relies on engagement processes on the road to change. Growing requires doing things differently and purposeful about the differences between value and price – more so when we’re up against low-cost outsourced labor.

The key is good relationships across the value chain, from suppliers, to staff, to clients. The work is fun and my artisanal compatriotes and I get to make cool stuff that people love, like the Marlowe Limited Edition lantern above. It’s made from welded steel and vintage glass that came out of the elevator shaft of another old factory. I want one for my home.

My brother sent me this article the week I accepted the job. Check it out for more of what’s going on in Brooklyn with niche manufacturing: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/08/nyregion/small-factories-thrive-in-brooklyn-replacing-industrial-giants.html?pagewanted=all