“Good luck has its storms.” – George Lucas
In part 5 I left off after we had place our first mass production order overseas. The first container load of Travelmates. Manufactured, assembled, packaged, boxed, loaded and shipped. Let me just add that we had NO ONE on the ground in the factory. You know, to make sure everything was being done correctly…Everything was being produced on schedule…Talk about a leap of faith, a lot of trust was placed in this factory. We were simply at their mercy, waiting patiently, nervously…
And, of course, excitedly, because it is very exciting to have made it to that level. There is just something very real about a full container of your product…Invented, patented, designed product that screams the American Dream, right? Aren’t those the stories we read in history class of the greatest inventors/entrepreneurs?…The inventors and the discoverers? Discovering electricity, gravity, inventing the assembly line, the cotton gin, the light bulb…Now, add the Travelmate to the list because it has revolutionized the way we parents travel…With those screaming, crying, pooping, drooling creatures we created. You can thank my wife for that.
Anyway, I digress…So, there we are waiting and waiting for a giant ship to sail across the sea…To a port just up the coast to make its way to our headquarters. Then on to a retail shelf near you…via a cool looking truck with a giant giraffe on it! That might one of the the coolest things ever…Seeing a truck pull in with Toys R Us’s Geoffrey plastered on the side…Coming to pick up pallets of Travelmates! More on that in another chapter…First we had to unload the container. Let me tell you, we have decided that the factory builds the container each time around all the boxes – we just can’t figure out any other way they stuff it all in there so tight! Truly tetris masters of the universe, they are!
Back to the unload and inspection. The first box out is opened, 6 beautiful Travelmate boxes packed neatly inside…One unit is removed, opened and inspected…Look at this beautiful product, so nicely packaged! Wait, where are the….You name it, we have had them come missing parts, assembled incorrectly…Uh oh, we can’t ship these like this…And look, they forgot the barcode on the selling box, and there is a typo…
Now, the fun really begins…Every single box has to be opened and inspected…The missing parts have to be placed in the box with the forgotten manual too. Then, the barcode sticker has to be stuck on every box, because the retailer must have them. If they have to put them on…not only do we get a fine, they charge a fee per unit, conveniently deducted directly from our payment.
Another wonderful lesson; if you want to play with the big dogs, you play by their rules. No if ands or buts about it.
In reality, we have been very lucky with the factories we work with. Yes, they have made mistakes, some very costly, but we have only had to visit a handful of times. I have never had to go, Kerry has only been once, and we only sent our engineer three or four times. Not bad.
You know the saying, “$hi& Happens!”…And when it does, you can focus on the problem and let it bring you down…Or you can focus on a solution and roll with it. We have done both, but we are still here because we chose the latter more often than not.
We plan to keep on going creating happy travelers the world over.
Owner-Operator & Dad