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Thread: Gerbings

  1. #1
    OldBMWMaster JDOCKERY132445's Avatar
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    Gerbings

    I attended the seminar on "Heated Clothing: An Essential Motorcycle Farkle" by Karol Patzer and Craig Bennett at the Rally.

    I enjoyed the presentation; but I was overjoyed when Mr. Bennett told us about the decision to move production out of China and into the USA; specifically, North Carolina.

    I have old Gerbings and wanted to replace them. I was fitted by a dealer at the Greenville, SC, International Motorcycle Show in 2011, and was prepared to make my purchase when I spotted the "Made in China" label. I did not purchase anything.

    I decided to take a look at the new facility, just North of Greensboro in a small town called Stoneville.

    The story is that Gerbing Jr. rode thru Stoneville and liked the area. Gerbings is now in a modern building, formerly used by a company that closed down.

    Stoneville offered some nice incentives for Gerbings to locate here; good on them.

    He brought a couple of workers from his headquarters in Washington state and hired 45 locals. This small group use about a fourth of the plant and are producing the jacket liners only. Plans are to hire 4 more by years end, and probably up to 200 in the next couple years as they expand their production line and close out the China operations. They also have a couple folks doing R&D. They have options on additional plant space if needed.

    A few of us were shown their cutting machines and the main crew of folks making and sewing the heating elements into the jackets. Each person has a separate station, most of which were sewing machines, with a couple folks installing the electrics. Current production is about 50 jacket liners a day, but will increase substantially.

    The retail space was what I had come to see. I looked at products and watched as other folks make purchases. I did nto purchase anything; but I will in late August.

    PRICES WILL INCREASE IN SEPTEMBER. I got this information at the rally from Mr. Bennett; so trust me on this.

    Some of you might be interested in how Gerbings ended up in China. The story as told by Mr. Bennett goes like this.

    Gerbings is the manufacturer of Harley Davidson branded heated gear. When Gerbings asked its dealers whether or not they would be happier with the current price point by outsourcing the product yet maintaining the quality, the dealers overwhelmingly opted for keeping the current prices. Gerbings used Harley Davidson's contacts in China and shipped the raw materials to China for assembly. All went well for a while then they stopped receiving product from China. A trip to the plant gave them a shock. In spite of the fact that a price had been agreed upon for production, the plant was now refusing to honor the contract. That was when Gerbings decided that the China experiment was over.

    Does this remind anyone of the New Coke experiment?

    IMO, Gerbings asked the wrong people. To their research team, the customers were the dealers. I am sure if they had asked the real customers, those of us who buy their product, the company would never have gone to China.

    I look forward to buying my new MADE IN THE USA, Gerbings this month. Anyone want to arrange for a tour?
    Jerry Dockery
    309 N. 3rd. Ave.
    Kure Beach, NC 28449
    1996 R1100RT main bike & 1985 K100RS...too fast to believe.

  2. #2
    Addicted to curves azgman's Avatar
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    The only way to get this country back on its feet is if we are willing to "fund" it. I for one, will spend more for a product made in the USA. The question is; how much more are we willing to spend for made in the USA?
    MOA #107139
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  3. #3
    John. jstrube's Avatar
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    I would much rather pay slightly more for "made in the USA" than much more in govt programs to support the same people on either welfare or wasteful projects.
    John.

  4. #4
    Lookin' good, America! 68820's Avatar
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    This is great news. NC was a hub for textiles for more than a century until low-cost clothing was farmed out to overseas factories. I wonder if any of the new employees had prior experience making clothes.

    Gerbings is a good example of a customer-focused business. A few years ago my heat control stopped working with my jacket liner. I contacted Gebrings and was told to send it back. The liner had the older SAE connectors. They let me know that the new controllers were now coaxial and did I want to upgrade. I agreed and they sent me a new controller at the regular retail cost. The thing that sold me was that they upgraded the contacts in the liner for FREE. When I need new heated gear, Gerbings wlll receive my business.
    Robert Peterson | Cary, NC | 68820
    cat herder and pixel pusher

  5. #5
    Registered User dmftoy1's Avatar
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    Bought my set after that same seminar. Gotta support someone taking that risk. iMHO

  6. #6
    beemerFROG derost's Avatar
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    Another way to look at it...

    For many many years I imported product from China, so I know all of the in/ outs/ problems/ advantages/ and so on. IMHO, everyone is always wanting to make the jump from China to the states, in one giant leap. I honestly think that companies would do better by doing it gradually, and by that I mean South America. Some of the major problems are shipping (time and cost), distance (lack of quality control by the buyer), and ever increasing minimums from the factories (reducing your variety). Get the manufacturing capabilities in South America as a transitional step to the states. Remember, any kind of move that big requires "re-educating" the companies way of thinking and the customers way of buying. My hat is off to Gerbings for tackling such a great move, they will certainly get my support and business.

    I want as much as anyone for manufacturing to come back to the states, but I want it done in a way that the company survives the move and grows from it.

    Just my $0.02... and now I depart from my soap box.
    -Ride Safe & Avoid Anyone On The Phone-
    **2000 R1100RT (Bullfrog), 1976 R90/6 (Tadpole)**
    beemerFROG a.k.a. Douglas E. Rost
    MotoFrog.net -- Black Frog Marketing

  7. #7
    OldBMWMaster JDOCKERY132445's Avatar
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    Tour?

    I am going to organize a tour of the NC factory. I will post the details when I have it all set up.
    Jerry Dockery
    309 N. 3rd. Ave.
    Kure Beach, NC 28449
    1996 R1100RT main bike & 1985 K100RS...too fast to believe.

  8. #8
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JStrube View Post
    I would much rather pay slightly more for "made in the USA" than much more in govt programs to support the same people on either welfare or wasteful projects.
    And who wants to pay more? How about more and what if it's inferior also? What if you have to pay a lot more? How far does the protectionist agenda go? What gets this country back in a competitive robust position is when we can make a better product for less. The reason we can't in many cases is people who feel entitled. Some workers here feel they should be paid what passes for a kings ransom in the rest of the world for what amounts to a relatively unskilled job that requires little advanced education to perform. How's those entitlements working for Greece right now? That's our future. It's a global economy now.

  9. #9
    Registered User dmftoy1's Avatar
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    Don't disagree with what you're saying but I'll pay more for a superior customer experience. I admire the guy for putting his money where his mouth is and giving it a shot. Only time will tell if his business model works. (lowest cost provider is not the only business model out there)

  10. #10
    OldBMWMaster JDOCKERY132445's Avatar
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    Price??

    Riddle this. Polo shirts used to be made in Clover, SC and Florence, SC. When production moved to china, the price did NOT go down on those shirts. Where did all the money go? If you think it had nothing to do with the way taxes are figured, you need to do some research.
    Jerry Dockery
    309 N. 3rd. Ave.
    Kure Beach, NC 28449
    1996 R1100RT main bike & 1985 K100RS...too fast to believe.

  11. #11
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    On a somewhat related item: anyone take a hard look at the heated gear advertised in new Rider with portable power? Forgot the brand but they have a 2 page ad and looks like royal blue fleece wear.
    Back to China: here in KY there are plenty of "sewing factories" empty, NC is just another place where they cleared out in textiles. Flip side: In my role as a career counselor in a tech school there was hardly a day went by that a female sewing factory worker didn't walk in looking for a ticket out of what was frequently low payed , frenzied, unrewarding(meaning job satisfaction ,not just the $) piece work leading to CTS. Food & housing money are nice but sewing jobs are no among the choice careers out there. Many of those KY jobs went 1st to Mexico(my neighbor used to travel there for Jockey as quality control) then as they became better paid there it was on to Asia. There are people still arguing about NAFTA as a good/bad thing yet empty factories sit on our border. FWIW, now we are losing our coal jobs in KY too & they aren't going to China. I like quality too but IT IS a world wide economy, no escape.

  12. #12
    Registered User PittsDriver's Avatar
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    Don't get me wrong, I think China is screwing us over with manipulation of their currency and our politicians are selling us down the proverbial river to not stand tough on it. I think corporate execs of public companies are doing exactly what they're supposed to do - focus on shareholder value. When an US worker that is doing a relatively unskilled job, requiring little education, and demands a wage that puts him in his own home with new cars and enough left over to send his kids to college, we're deluding ourselves. I'm not saying that guy should not want those things but what I am saying is that it's a global economy. If there's someone in this world willing to do it for less, that's where the job is going. Short term that hurts. Long term, its a good thing. We just have to buck up and be competitive.

  13. #13
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    I worked for a company in Florida that made choir robes, graduation robes , judges robes and a few other items. They were pretty much the big dog in the industry in the USA.
    Walking through the factory seeing all those smiling, Asian , Hispanic , Eastern European faces working away doing all the various tasks to make the product was interesting to say the least.
    We did have a small contingent of American women sewers & cutters but the job was pretty much a dead end occupation as far as i could tell.

    The goods we sold were not inexpensive by any means, and when looked at side by side to the imported robes I saw at trade shows there was no comparison in quality from overseas.

    Talking with locals here in the Piedmont of NC. about their days in the mills and clothing factories I never hear them say , boy i miss doing that job. They miss having a job and many are training in other fields .

    The USA manufacturer is down right now, but he is not out, by a long shot.
    Good on the folks at Gerbings, I need to replace my old Widder vest this year, and i know where I'll be shopping.

    When's that tour JD ???

  14. #14
    Grizzled adventurer
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    Quote Originally Posted by kantuckid View Post
    . FWIW, now we are losing our coal jobs in KY too & they aren't going to China. .

    That's a multiple beer discussion right there since I was born in Kentucky but finally found some money again by working in the gas fields of Texas.

    When I was in San Antonio there were two new electrical power plants and they had brand new rail lines laid to supply them with coal. Which I always thought was bizarre since San Antonio is the logistical hub for Halliburton and Schlumberger operations in the Eagle Ford field.

    I saw NAFTA mentioned in another comment somewhere in this thread, as well as discussion about clothing manufacture in South America. I don't know if Mexican labor has gotten too expensive for clothing manufacture, but the sooner that we get NAFTA working efficiently the better things will be for everyone. The amount of modern manufacturing facilities in Northern Mexico is just amazing, and it's not just for product coming into the States - you see non-US companies manufacturing in Mexico for their worldwide markets.

    The USA has pretty well turned it's back on Africa as a market - watch CCTV9 (Chinese TV in English) some time and see how the Chinese have devoted special news programs for Africa - and the Chinese and Japanese have pretty well pushed the USA out of Asia.

    Long story short, there are plenty of places where the Mexicans can market to easier than the US can, like South America. And Mexico has an interest in US and Canadian products. There are simply some things that cannot be manufactured economically in Canada and the USA but Mexico would be happy to do the work. The sooner the three nations reduce their barriers between the countries the better.
    Last edited by PirateJohn; 08-04-2012 at 09:16 PM.

  15. #15
    Rally Rat
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    Thumbs up

    Just a thought; if we all bought on price alone we would all be driving Yugos!

    My number one criteria for purchase is customer service, second is quality and third is price. All this together equals value.

    Garmin ranks way up there on value and a big + 1 on the move.

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