Sourcing chronicles: ET2C – 19 years and counting!
Sourcing has evolved significantly over the past 20 years. As more members acceded to the WTO around the turn of the Millenium, borders were liberalised and outsource manufacturing on a mass scale followed. Lately, there has been increased protectionism and international trade has been impacted over these last 3 years.
As a celebration of 19 years of business, we thought to explore these years through the eyes of our CEO, Richard Archer-Perkins. He told us how the business was started and how he has managed to continue operating in Asia for such a long period. No easy feat!
Back in 2000, I was asked to come to China to help a friend establish his own oxygen mask manufacturer. He had already been making these products at a facility in Taipei and wanted to leverage the Chinese manufacturing market and labour pool. Initially, with family in the UK, this was to be a nine-month stint. Who could have imagined that twenty years later I would still be here!
It all started at the Javits Center in January 2001, when I visited New York at the Pure Exhibition. Having seen the emergence of a mass manufacturing base in China, I walked the show going to every booth asking whether there was anyone interested in working with China. There was a lot of interest, but there was only one company that came to the table; a body jewellery company called Silver Moon Concepts who operated in Florida, USA – not that I knew anything about Body Jewellery! I managed to find a supplier (who traditionally worked with watches), who had the machinery and material to make surgical grade stainless steel (316L) and importantly create the necessary shapes. Then I went about finding staff to create a mini-production line to put the product together and pack them. I opened the office on the 8 May 2001.
The evolution of the business
From then, I managed to onboard additional clients in 2002 and 2003. We were saving our clients considerable cost on goods at a time when China had just begun to open up. On the back of this, I managed to get some large retailers as well as other wholesalers and Brands. Today, we’re proud of having in excess of 100 regular clients. Moreover, we are constantly looking to give them sourcing solutions that drive their bottom-line growth. We now have operations in multiple sourcing markets and are looking at further expansion this year. In addition, we have a food distribution business and are also planning to add more product lines to sell into China in 2020.
Sourcing in Uncertain Times
There is no doubt that the World is in turmoil. COVID-19, trade wars, international sanctions and so on. International trade will continue being an important driver for the global economy as it has over the course of history. There are questions over whether China will continue to be the factory to the world – or rather retain its dominance – and perhaps some countries will look to be more self-reliant. Regardless, ET2C will continue to strive to identify more opportunities for our clients from better suppliers, new markets and in a more sustainable way. Inevitably, technology will also play an increasingly important role in this journey across all facets of our business but also in terms of how we all engage together.
We are nimble, which enables us to pivot when required. Consequentially, in what was an incredibly complex regulatory and environment, we managed to help our clients get some PPE products. Importantly, we did not lose one dollar of our clients’ money in an environment that was very high risk. It was important to follow our usual processes to ensure we were dealing with the right suppliers. The South China Morning Post referred to it as the “Wild West”. I am also proud to have supplied to the NHS as they ramped up their PPE stocks.
We work across multiple categories, but primarily these can be defined into two divisions, Consumer goods (Garden, Fashion, Pet, Toys, Furniture, Homewares and Health & Beauty) and Industrial goods. We currently source from India, China and Vietnam. Also, we are looking to add additional jurisdictions as part of our 2020 strategy. Countries being assessed at present include Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia and Taiwan.
Our Buying Office solution has always been the backbone of the company and helped the business to grow. I still believe that this is conceptually correct as there is no doubt that (particularly in these Asian markets) in order to control your supply chain it is important to have people on the ground at the source. Controlling suppliers, quality, on time delivery and compliance from a distance is very difficult. Our model is the most cost effective, transparent and simplest available and second to none.
Challenges and Opportunities
Always be prepared to take risks! One never knows which one will yield opportunities and ultimate success! Who would have thought that dealing in body Jewellery would create the business we have today. It has been an amazing journey full of good and challenging experiences – albeit not always pleasant – but that is life and looking back I really look forward to the next exciting episodes! I look forward to celebrating with everyone at next year’s 20 year celebrations!
With almost 20 years of experience, ET2C is well positioned to help you with all your sourcing needs, whatever they may be. We look forward to designing new solutions to make your business more successful. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.