I want to follow up on The Vertical Supply Chain post to clear the air of the false claims and guesses made about the reasons for moving production to Toray’s facility and to give more insight to why I made this decision so you may better understand.
Before this change, KUIU’s fabrics from Toray had a 9 month lead-time because Primeflex fabrics use Toray’s highest grade of yarn which is limited due to the quality standards for Primflex.
Once finished, the fabrics have to be shipped to Vancouver, which takes 21 days for ocean freight and a week to clear customs and arrive at the factory.
I set up production in Vancouver because Tamoda is a smaller factory with lower minimums, which I needed to start KUIU and I needed the flexibility of lower minimums to fill in product while we grew.
Tamoda produces a quality product but is limited in the volumes it can output due to their size. If space in the factory is available, Tamoda takes 60 to 90 days to cut and sew a run of a product.
This created a 12 month lead-time, best case, from the time I placed a purchase order to delivery to our warehouse.
The long lead times and limited factory space created over 2500 back orders this summer. We were not able put product on-line. Customers were canceling preorders and were upset they could not get gear in time for hunting season. I had to make a change, KUIU had out grown our supply chain.
Some have suggested Kifaru and Mystery Ranch have made domestic production work, why can’t KUIU? These are both fantastic brands with great products, but these companies make product to order and do most of their sewing in house. KUIU is a different business model. Sewing in house is something we are not set up to do or manage.
I did not want to just make a change to any factory. If lowering production cost was the goal, as so many have suggested, Toray’s facility is a bad choice. They are not a low cost supplier.
I went to Toray to see how we could change the entire supply chain. Being a forward thinking company they were willing to help. With no strings attached.
There will not be a reduction in quality or KUIU products becoming “More China junk” as many are claiming. I encourage any of you making this claim to research Toray. They are a World Leading company in several business categories that include Nano-technology and Chemistry, Industrial Chemicals, Medical, Carbon Fiber and Textiles. They did not become successful in these businesses by cutting corners in quality.
Toray makes the fiber, yarn, DWR, seamtape and heat bonding glue that goes into our products. They know how to build gear using Toray products better than a cut and sew factory in the USA, Canada, Vancouver or anywhere in the world for that matter. Our product quality will only increase, not decrease as so many have claimed.
What excites me most about this move is the ability for the hunting industry to finally lead. An industry that has made poor quality products driven by price for so many years.
Sitka was my first step in making this change, but the retailers created limitations of what we could build because of their lack of ability to add value to the purchase and sell high priced performance products.
When Gore bought Sitka, I left to create a new business platform, which allows me to build unlimited products for this industry. I had to eliminate the retailer so I could work with companies like Toray and technologies like carbon fiber. To make less than the best and most innovative products in the world is simply not who I am or why KUIU exists.
The move to working with Toray is absolutely in line with this. We have reinvented the traditional supply chain reducing lead-time to less than 6 months. The technology and advancements Toray brings to the table is second to NONE.
This year alone we will introduce new technology that will reinvent insulation and dramatically increase the performance of our waterproof/breathable laminates. Plus, we will introduce several new fabric technologies that will further reduce the weight of our layering system all while increasing performance. None of this could have happened without Toray.
Toray will not run KUIU or tell me what to make. Or has any interest in owning a hunting brand as many have suggested.
KUIU is the fastest growing customer of Toray’s textile division. They see KUIU’s business model as innovative and positioned to introduce new cutting edge technologies. We will all get the benefits of this relationship.
No jobs were lost by moving production to Toray as so many have claimed. Tamoda is still very busy and doing just fine.
We will add jobs here in the USA at KUIU and at our warehouse. If your concern of loosing jobs are the reason not to support KUIU, then you should support KUIU now more than ever.
I built Sitka and now KUIU to create a significant change in the quality and performance of the gear we wear for hunting in the mountains. This is an industry, culture and lifestyle I love and respect. To claim anything else of me or KUIU is simply not true.