Most often, wood crafting companies purchase large quantities of seemingly simple wood parts that perform a vital function in their final pieces but are unrealistic for them to produce for themselves. Whether it’s because the company lacks the proper machinery or the task is simply outside their scope of work, working with material suppliers in some way, shape, or form is a standard part of manufacturing.
ALL SUPPLIERS ARE NOT CREATED EQUAL
Below, I’ve provided a snapshot of the processes, strengths, and shortcomings of four common types of material suppliers.
1. MANUFACTURERS AND VENDORS
When you work with manufacturers and vendors, you’re working with the source of the supply chain. They research, develop, and produce the product you purchase. Effectively, sourcing your materials from the manufacturer means you’re not paying any additional businesses for the handling and storing of the product.
Many manufacturers create the materials after they’ve been ordered. This can create a longer wait time than what you’ll receive with wholesalers and distributors. But, if what you need isn’t something readily available or mass-produced, manufacturers can create large volume orders to the exact specifications you need. Manufacturers are ideal when efficiency and intricacy are top priorities.
2. WHOLESALERS AND DISTRIBUTORS
Wholesalers and distributors are known for purchasing supplies in bulk, storing them, and selling off in smaller quantities to businesses and retailers. They specialize in carrying standard sizes in high volumes.
Since the product is already created, you may have limited options, but the order turn times will be shorter.
3. INDEPENDENT AND TRADE SHOW REPS
Independent craftspeople who create their own pieces often sell their work independently or partner with representatives who help sell their final product. Independent craftspeople are known for one-of-a-kind intricacy, along with handmade detailing.
Sourced materials from an independent craftsperson are typically ideal for projects involving low-volume purchasing where turn times are a lower priority.
When you hear talks of overseas manufacturing, the suppliers who import and export those manufactured goods are known as importers. Importers purchase their materials from one country, and then they sell those same materials in a different country.
When you source materials through importers, high-volume orders in standard sizes are where you’ll find the most benefit. The high-volume helps to offset the costs incurred through shipping and transporting the materials. It’s not uncommon to buy from a wholesaler or distributor who sources from importers as well.
WHICH MATERIAL SUPPLIER IS BEST?
Regardless of industry, you’ll find any and all of these types of suppliers operating within their niche market. When you’re in search of the right supplier for you and your organization, it’s really about taking a look at what needs you have and which supplier type aligns most closely with those needs.