Posts tagged ‘K’Nex’

11/03/2013

* Toy Maker Brings K’Nex Production Back to U.S.

Yet another example of manufacturing returning to the West.

WSJ: “As every American child knows, toys come from the North Pole or—more likely—China. But K’Nex Brands LP, a family-owned company in this Philadelphia suburb, is trying to prove they can still be made in America.

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Over the past few years, K’Nex has brought most of the production of its plastic building toys back to its factory in Hatfield from subcontractors in China. To make that possible, the company has redesigned some of the toys and even handed over to kids a bit of the assembly formerly performed by hand in China.

“In the long term, it’s much better for us to manufacture here,” says Joel Glickman, chairman of K’Nex and its manufacturing affiliate, Rodon Group. The two companies have combined sales of more than $100 million, making them small players compared with American rivals Hasbro Inc. HAS +1.49% and Mattel Inc., MAT +0.41% neither of which has announced plans to shift production to the U.S.

By moving production closer to U.S. retailers, K’Nex said it can react faster to the fickle shifts in toy demand and deliver hot-selling items to stores faster. It also has greater control over quality and materials, often a crucial safety issue for toys. And as wages and transport costs rise in China, the advantages of producing there for the U.S. market are waning.

But K’Nex has found it impossible so far to produce 100% U.S.-made toys, the firm’s goal. The K’Nex experience shows both the attractions of “reshoring” production and the difficulties of making that happen in a country whose manufacturing infrastructure has atrophied.

Lining up suppliers has been a complicated chore in the U.S., where toy-making skills have faded. China, by contrast, has a vast, efficient network of suppliers and skilled labor. “In China, you can go over with just a drawing and say, ‘I need a million of these,'” says Michael Araten, chief executive of K’nex. That helps account for a huge U.S. deficit in the toy trade. In 2012, U.S. imports of toys, games and sporting goods, mostly from China, totaled $33.5 billion, or about three times U.S. exports of such items.”

via Toy Maker Brings K’Nex Production Back to U.S. – WSJ.com.

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