Written by Navy Seals Veteran Eli Crane, Owner of Bottle Breacher.
I knew years ago in my one car garage in Point Loma, San Diego that my product the Bottle Breacher was special and that I was on to something much bigger than my original idea of supplemental income. I also knew that if we were going to build something amazing, that it had to be done right. I knew we would have to overcome the odds and do something that many manufacturers and business owners avoid at all cost. Being made in America. I am proud to say that even after all the exposure, the inquiries and offers to manufacture our product off shore that we are still made in the USA. Not only is our manufacturing still here, but so are our jobs.
I would like to be completely honest and admit that as a boy and even a young man I had no allegiance or preference to made in America products. This is not something I am proud of. Like they say, “you don’t know what you don’t know.” After making the commitment to be a made in America brand I now have a huge respect for those companies and businesses that take the road less traveled and at times price themselves right out of certain markets and channels.
I have learned that there are many benefits to manufacturing here in the USA. One of the biggest reasons is because I feel it is the right thing to do and the people that work at Bottle Breacher have a sense of pride about it. I also love doing business face to face. I routinely hop on a plane to travel across the country to check out a new process or equipment I want to purchase. I want to meet with people in person so I get a better feel for them and what kind of business they run. You can have the best product or service in the world but if there aren’t great people behind it then it won’t last and stand the test of time. As a matter of fact, 90% of the manufacturing we do is done right here in Tucson, AZ. Most of the time I don’t even have to hop on a plane, I can just drive over and drop in to see exactly what issues there are, or why a process is delayed. I also love the fact that once a product is complete I don’t have to wait 30 days for it to travel in a cargo container on a boat half way around the world and then be held up in customs for another week or two. The final reason I like manufacturing here in the USA is because I feel like a lot of consumers are starting to catch on to why it is important to give these products a second look and why it's worth to spend a few extra dollars on them.
People have asked me many times why Bottle Breachers are not on every shelf in sporting goods stores and many of today’s big box stores that carry an assortment of everything from pantyhose to motor oil. Honestly it isn’t because of a lack of interest from either side. It all boils down to margin. Because we make our products in the States we have to pay between 50-70% more to manufacture versus sending our process to China or Mexico. Most people also do not realize how brutal retail is. If you get your products into the Walmart, Target, and Bass Pro Shops around the world you may only come away with 20-25% of the sale price of the product. In addition to that a lot big stores won’t pay you until 30-60 days after the transaction. A lag in capital flowing into a business of a month or two can sometimes break the back of a small business that doesn’t have a good reserve of cash flow. This isn’t to say that Big Box stores are evil, far from it. Many of these chains employ thousands of people and must be very competitive to survive themselves. My point is that it is much more difficult for made in America companies to get their products into them.
There are many pros and cons to being a made in America brand. We enjoy the pros and are constantly fighting the cons on a daily basis. At the end of the day, I wouldn’t have it any other way and I really enjoy the challenge. I also hope this piece was educational and inspiring to entrepreneurs who are making this decision right now and also to those consumers who are contemplating a purchase that involves products that are made in the USA and a competing product that are made oversees. I know I once didn’t appreciate the constraints and difficulties that come along with businesses that make the commitment to keep their dollars and jobs here in the USA. I am glad I have educated myself and made the decision that we will either make it as a made in the USA brand or we will die as a made in the USA brand.
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