Firas Kittaneh | Crain's Phoenix

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Firas Kittaneh

Background:  

Scottsdale-based Amerisleep is an online mattress retailer founded in 2009. The company says it produces the most eco-friendly mattress in America, and each is made domestically. Amerisleep is opened its first store in Gilbert, Ariz., in June and plans on having additional stores in Arizona and elsewhere.

The Mistake:

When we first got into the mattress business, we thought that manufacturing in China was going to be more cost-effective than domestic manufacturing.

Knowing that China has sophisticated manufacturing capabilities, along with endless opportunities to scale, it was our initial hypothesis that we had to manufacture our product there. 

Every other country was doing it, so we thought that was the way to go. We started making mattresses in China, but we eventually realized that was not a sustainable way for us to do business.

Mattress orders that came in bulk had quality issues. Production delays were hard to predict. Communication was time-consuming. And, most importantly, we weren’t able to do quality assurance on the product because we didn’t have staff in China.

They will be surprised by what American factories can accomplish for them.

The Lesson:

Later on, after doing more research, we concluded that people actually wanted the products made in the USA. After researching our options, we decided to move our manufacturing back to the U.S. That was the birth of Amerisleep. The company began when we decided to manufacture in the United States. 

After doing that, not only did we have more control over the quality, more control of communication and timing, but, ironically, the costs were even cheaper. It was less expensive to make the product in the U.S. than in China. After factoring in all the costs of errors, the costs of delays, the costs of shipping and all the issues we had to deal with, it was much cheaper to make it in the United States. 

Furthermore, we’re proud to be able to provide jobs here in the States, and the customers are happy to support an all-American brand. So, it was a win-win situation for us. 

Before businesses commit to manufacturing overseas, they should spend a bit more time investigating options domestically. They might be surprised by what they can do here in the States. They will be surprised by what American factories can accomplish for them.

This was a turning point in our business, when we discovered that manufacturing in the States was a more sustainable way to do business.

Follow Amerisleep on Twitter at @Amerisleep.

Photo courtesy of Firas Kittaneh

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