You may be thinking – why bother going to a trade show to find a manufacturer when you can just download the list of exhibitors and contact them via email instead? But in these days of digital communication there are advantages to meeting in person that just can’t be beaten.
Let us tell you some of the reasons why you should meet your manufacturer face-to-face…
Meeting someone in person aids communication.
There is little room for a lack of understanding or misinterpretation of ideas if you can meet with someone and discuss business when you are both able to look each other in the eye. It is even better if you can also show the manufacturer the type of product you want to make, and they can show you other things that they might have made previously that are similar.
It demonstrates that you mean business
If manufacturers receive hundreds of emails a week from prospective new customers and can only take on a limited amount of new business, why will they pick you? When you make the effort to go and meet someone face to face and explain what you are trying to achieve they are much more likely to see the potential in a future business partnership.
You can touch and feel the product and see the quality of their workmanship
We are, after all, talking about developing products here. There’s no point complaining about a first delivery coming back from a manufacturer and the quality being disappointing, if you have never seen anything that the factory has made before. Taking a few hours out of your busy day to browse the quality of craftsmanship coming out of the British Isles may reassure you as to why you may pay a little more to get something made here instead of overseas.
It can lead to some great collaborations
Who knows what might come out of a visit to a trade show and the opportunity to network with others in a real life situation? Social media is great for virtual networking but being in the same room as someone can’t be beaten.
Ideas for new business opportunities often come about in the most unlikely of meetings, and an event with hundreds of manufacturers in one venue could be the perfect place to find your next business partner.
There may be things that you never thought possible
Who knows what you might discover when you actually take the time to look around and see what different manufacturers have to offer? There maybe products that you never knew could be made here. Or different manufacturing techniques that you hadn’t even heard of. You won’t find many of these on the internet or in en email. So get yourself out there and go meet some manufacturers!
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In the first of a series of features highlighting the companies exhibiting at the show, we interview Stanley Russell from Apt Fabrics
Apt Fabrics supply fabric solutions to the PPE (personal protective equipment) and technical clothing market. As well as providing a range of trademarked fabrics for a multitude of needs, they also offer a bespoke fabric sourcing service, a fabric modification service, seminars and international textile training. They supply a large choice of waterproof fabrics, as well as thermal, moisture-wicking fabrics such as the Praetorian Fireblocker that protects against radiant heat.APT Fabrics also launched their own clothing brand Aclimatise so that they could bring their own range of clothing to the market, incorporating their technologies.
We spoke to Apt Fabrics director, Stanley Russell, to find out more about the business.
Men’s and Women’s waterproof jackets from Aclimatise
How long have you been in the textiles industry?
I could say my whole life. My father and mother where both involved with the textile industry and owned their own home furnishing company. However, my actual working life in the industry has been thirty years. I’ve worked in retail management at Primark, spent time at Crepe Weavers, and then finally started Apt Fabrics Ltd, my own high performance laminated fabric company.
What makes your products better than the competition?
Well, apart from the fact they work, are not old technologies remarketed, and are quality products manufactured in the UK… I’m not afraid to look at new technologies to see how they could be incorporated into garments to make them perform better and more comfortable to wear. I have all the garments independently tested, both in the lab and by real people in real life environments, to find out if anything is wrong with them.
What was the project that made a difference to your success?
I suppose it was winning the contract to supply all the waterproof fabrics for the Metropolitan Police uniform.
What is your favourite product in your range?
That’s an easy one. The Aclimatise fleece as I never take it off – and the central heating is still not on in our house.
How much of your product do you make in the UK?
Where possible I make all of our products in the UK. I have been working with a small manufacturing company in the midlands to recreate my fleece. It has taken nine months but we are now ready to press the go button. All the outer fabrics in our waterproof garments are made in Nottingham, and our knits are made in Leicester.
Women’s waterproof jacket made using Apt Fabrics
Have you ever considered making your product overseas?
Yes and I have the capability to, but I would be giving away my secrets. I would only use an overseas manufacturer if I wished to enter a specific market like the USA or Australia. In that case it would make sense to manufacture the products in the USA (using a Made in USA logo), or in China for the logistics and cost of supply to Australia.
Do you think that it matters to your customers that your products are made in Britain?
I hope it does, but irrespective of that I just wish to support UK manufacturing and to produce a quality UK product that works. We give a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back.
What is the most unusual product that you have ever made?
A breathable gas tight chemical protection suit.
What does the future hold for Apt Fabrics and Acimatise?
In the new year we plan to bring to market our Aclimatise work wear range to market under our Eco dry range …. A fully recyclable range of high performance Hi visibility garments ( an industry first as 95% of all Hi vis clothing goes into land fill)
Apt Fabrics will be exhibiting at our 2016 event and to celebrate this they are offering all of our readers a 5% discount on their clothing range. Just enter the code MKitBR2015 when purchasing onwww.aclimatise.co.uk
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