I think your commentary on Hincapie & Chinese production is a bit misleading. First, whether we like it or not, it seems our esteemed U.S. government has decided that import tariffs on textiles from certain Central American & South American countries will be lowered to help these countries develop some sort of economic base other than one based on contraband (it seems a funny white powder is the top export of Columbia and also the driving factor in Columbia's economy). Is this fair? I guess it depends on your world view? But regardless, Hincapie is taking advantage of this situation in a legal manner and perhaps they view production in Columbia as some sort of altruistic venture that will help the people of that country. Then again, maybe Hincapie could care less and they're just interested in higher profits, or maybe their motivation is a combination of the two.
As for your story of the factory manager who had to leave work for a week to attend to a sick relative, well....as much as I hate to say it, this scenario could occur in almost every country in the world, including the U.S. Given the state of health care throughout the world, it is easy for a family to be decimated by the costs of illness, accident and/or injury. I would hope that Alex would have done the same for any person in his employ, whether it was in China, Italy, Columbia or the U.S., and that Alex's motivation would not be based solely on perceived lost production, but based on the good will created by helping someone who has, in turn, helped Alex by being a loyal, trustworthy employee.
For the record, a large part of my job for the last 10-12 years has been overseeing electronic production in Asia & Eastern Europe, as well as sourcing various plastic, metal and electronic components from these same countries, so I know first-hand about conditions and the motivation is switching production from country to country. In some industries (such as electronics), once a competitor has switched production to a lower cost country, it is very difficult to compete without doing the same and the very survival of a company may depend on making this change. In other industries, for better or worse, the motivation is based solely on increasing profit margins, thus my question about whether the consumer (read CR member) will end up seeing Woolistic goods at a lower price point now, given Alex's lower cost of production in China. Somehow, I think not.
This discussion is certainly a bit off-the-mark for the CR forum, so I apologize to any CR members who are rolling their eyes. I just thought your commentary was unfairly trying to put Hincapie in a bad light and trying to give CR members some warm & fuzzy feeling about Alex helping a Chinese worker, both of which are a bit skewed in perspective from my experience.
All the best,
Dave Patrick Chelsea, Michigan USA
Jan Johnson <email@example.com> wrote: Several listmembers have contacted me, saying they are interested in a new CR jersey. As Dale mentioned, his order with Hincapie is a "done deal". So, I'll disregard the 'orders' I received for a Woolistic remake of the CR jersey. Sorry, Guys.
I find the discussion very interesting, about where the jerseys 'should' be manufactured so that they "fit the CR picture". Even though most of Woolistic's production is indeed performed in China, we still have small factories at our disposal in Italy. A handful of customers can and do specify that their custom garments be manufactured in Italy. This obviously adds to the unit cost of each jersey, but atleast you get an Italian-made garment.
Hincapie may "fit" the CR picture, but they are not exempt from the lure of exploiting cheap labor in garment manufacturing. Rich himself told me that they were able to have their products produced in Columbia...South America! Real cheap labor down there. Rich went on to tell me that import taxes and duties on apparel from South America were a fraction of those on goods coming from Europe. Good for them, but that's hardly a good example of Free Trade practices.
An interesting sidebar on the trials and tribulations of manufacturing in China - Alex told me that he hired a manager to run the production at the Chinese factory. This young man called one day, in a desperate panic - telling Alex that he needed to leave work for atleast a week, to take care of his sick father. If the man left the company for more than 48 hours, production would have halted. This young man came from a poor family and was struggling to make enough money to be able to care for his aging parents. The father needed medical care, but had no money to pay for it. Alex stepped in and paid for the necessary treatment of the father, so that the son could have peace of mind and not worry about his father. I was really impressed by Alex's willingness to do whatever was necessary to keep his employees happy.
Jan Johnson Portola Valley, California
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