A response from Tiderace
Posted by: aledw on Nov-15-12 7:57 PM (EST)
There are many interesting questions raised here, so I'll attempt to answer a few.
(By the way, best I introduce myself: I'm Aled Williams, I design the Tiderace boats and oversee production, I live in North Wales, UK)
Over the last 25 years, I've designed boats for other manufacturers, was once a partner in setting up our own factory, and recently was a partner in setting up Tiderace. The reason Tiderace does not operate its own factory production is simply down to economics and time. The capital investment in establishing a large factory from scratch is considerable, much deeper than my pockets or the value of my house/savings. I've tried starting small - it takes years to work from profits to build to a production size/scale which actually makes money - I never achieved this. I tried it, and ran out of time - it wasn't sustainable. A new factory would need to be large enough to produce at a level which gave sufficient world wide market volume production and sales penetration to make the company viable. And as I said, that comes at a high price. The alternative is to seek a 3rd party manufacturer, which is the model Tiderace has followed. Cobra is our fourth manufacturer (after a world wide search), 3 other companies ultimately failed to deliver. High quality and volume production are hard to find in a 3rd party manufacturer, Cobra have provided both. 60% (ish) of the worlds total output of surfboards, windsurf boards, SUPs and kiteboards comes out of this factory - this level of success speaks for itself. They also build yachts and sailing dingies and in the automotive section manufacture composite parts for Audi, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini. This is no eastern sweat shop! It's probably one of the most high-tech volume composites manufacturers in the world. Their factory arrangement gives us a dedicated production team, a separate QA team and all the logistics support we need. To be honest, its a fun place to be. We get exactly what we ask for, on time, to quality, in volume - having this level of manufacturing support allows Tiderace to grow quickly and efficiently as a company. But better than that, I get to have boats built exactly to my specification, with no restrictions on quality and range of materials, manufacturing processes and graphic technologies - I end up with exactly the boat I envisaged, exactly what I want to paddle.
Cobra is owned and run a Thai family and managed by a very cosmopolitan management staff. But, the real reason why we enjoy working with this factory is about trust, commitment, reciprocating values and a partnership which is committed to honest collaboration and success. I sympathise and understand the conservative approach to buying locally made products, supporting local economies etc. I started out building all my own boats, even sold a few, and employed a hand-full of my neighbours for a while. The demand for the products grew and we grew the company in the way we could. The business now supports us, our manufacturer, and a world wide network of dealers who sell our products.
That's a little bit of our story, now I'm off paddling... Feel free to ask further questions.