For the items that can be re-shored, it has been difficult to find talented craftsmen and women to meet the increased and sudden demand. The labor market is tight and we have lost a generation of manufacturers in the USA.

#1 Article for 2018 - Impact of Tariffs on Manufacturing Companies

Adam Blitzer | Softline Brand Partners

How long has Softline been in business and what types of businesses does Softline specialize in? 

Softline has been in business since 2010 and we specialize in manufacturing soft sided items in the accessories, home goods, medical, and industrial space. We manufacture for Fortune 500 companies to startups. 

How was business for Softline in 2018? Any major milestones or downfalls? 

2018 has been a robust year. We acquired a 100+ year old factory to expand our capacity to keep up, hired additional sample makers, production team members, and acquired additional machinery. The tariff has been slight headwind. 


How have the recent tariff regulations affected Softline Brand Partners and its clients? 

We have several year long contracts to deliver goods that we produce overseas. A large percentage of our customers have been willing to split the 10% tariff with us. A few have not. That has been painful. 


Which businesses and industries do you think will be most impacted by the new tariff regulations? 

The accessories market will be negatively impacted due to the fact that many of the items currently produced in China cannot be re-shored cost effectively. This has caused a scramble for many producers to relocate production outside of China and the USA. 


Are the tariffs forcing automation in US factories? 

In my opinion, it is too early to tell. The January tariff will be an important milestone. If it is imposed, automation is on the table in a meaningful way. We are exploring this now. 


How do the tariffs impact the labor market now and in the next few years? 

For the items that can be re-shored, it has been difficult to find talented craftsmen and women to meet the increased and sudden demand. The labor market is tight and we have lost a generation of manufacturers in the USA. 


What do you anticipate for the future of manufacturing in the non-apparel sector for 2019?

We are optimistic about 2019. DTC (direct to consumer) brands continue to look for partnerships with manufacturers like Softline who understand their model and their needs. We spend an incredible amount of energy supporting these brands through their hyper growth phases. I do believe you will continue to see consolidation in both the manufacturing space and in the brand space, there will likely be some shakeups in Q1/Q2. 


What course of action do you suggest businesses take to comply with the changes? What has Softline done? 

Manufacturing businesses are traditionally asset heavy - literally and figuratively - it can be difficult to relocate machinery overseas quickly. We are standing up supply chains outside of China as well as building out our domestic facilities, but we remain cautiously optimistic that a deal will be made to allow China to remain a production center. 



About Adam Blitzer
Adam Blitzer is the Founder and CEO of Softline Brand Partners, a vertically integrated manufacturing and supply chain solutions company. Softline was founded under the pretense that soft goods manufacturing needed to be disrupted. Today, Softline manufactures for the most recognizable brands, Fortune 500’s, and several start-ups. Softline owns and operates domestic and overseas factories.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of ManufacturingTomorrow

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