Thursday, March 5, 2009

The China Cycle

We received the "sailing advise" today, telling us that our ITW kites are leaving China. "Sailing advise" is the lingo to let us know that the container actually made it on the ship and that the ship has actually left the port in Shanghai. The vessel, Hanjin Phoenix, is sailing to Los Angeles with our kites. Well...some of our kites. Some are still being manufactured. We ordered the 80 boxes of kites that are on their way to us on September 24, 2008. We spent the following month preparing the instructions and tags and updating the worksheets used in production. But since October 21, 2008, we've pretty much just been waiting for it to happen. It's exciting to finally have product on the way to us, especially when we're running so low on inventory of so many kites. But this gives you an idea of how long it takes for us to get product from China. By the time it hits our back door, six months will have elapsed since we placed the order. Once it's here, we'll need to inspect a percentage (usually about 10-15%) to make sure the kites meet our quality standards. If it's a new product, if it doesn't pass the QC inspection with flying colors or if it's a product that we haven't recently ordered, we'll fly it to make sure it's A-OK. (That's George's job ;-) Fortunately, most products whiz through these steps and are ready to be sent to customers within a few days. But with 22 different kites arriving, it could still be 3 or 4 weeks before it's all in stock. Of course, we'll receive the products with the most backorders first and work our way through to the in stock kites, just in time for our next shipment.

I've been emailing our factory in China to see if the rest of our order will be leaving March 10th, which is looking doubtful at this point. To complete the cycle, or more accurately, to begin it again, we're hard at work with Christoph Fokken on new products for 2010. We had a meeting with him in January at the Kite Trade Show and have already exchanged several emails and phone calls as he gets to work on prototypes. Our goal is to accelerate the process (of course, that's been our goal for the last four years, as well) so that we can have kites on the way to us before Chinese New Year, when most factories in China shut down completely. I guess that means we'll be trying to place an order sometime this summer. So if you have any spare crystal balls lying around to help us predict what will happen in 2010, by all means send them our way.

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