An Interview with Jeff Pinsky
A variety of changes in recent years, from adoption of technology to decreased trade barriers, have made it easier than ever to source imprinted promotional products from overseas. Our VP of Sales, Jeff Pinsky, frequently uses overseas resources to produce large or custom orders for his clients, and he took a few minutes out of his day to speak with me about overseas sourcing.
Mark: When is overseas sourcing appropriate for an order, and what types of orders do you typically produce overseas?
Jeff: Overseas production is appropriate for most orders over $7,500 that can be delivered between 70-90 days. My clients typically use overseas production for bags and accessories, pens and custom molded metal or aluminum items like gift tins.
Mark: I know the Internet and express global shipping have made some parts of the process easier, but I’m sure other challenges still exist. What’s gotten better, and what are some things to be careful of?Jeff: On the whole, things are much much better. We now have lower overseas minimums for both volume and dollar amount. We can turn items like pens and usb accessories around in less than 30 days using discount air services and still save our customers money while offering them a level of customization that just isn’t available in the States. At the moment, however, you do have to be careful about customs and importing. I can tell you horror stories about shipments that landed in plenty of time to make a client’s event, and then had to be overnighted at the last minute, because customs held them for an extra week or so.Mark: How often do you source overseas versus domestically?Jeff: One of the things we pride ourselves on is being a true advocate for the customer. If I can save my customer some money, or I can offer them a unique product or solution by using overseas factories to create a special effect, I consider it my responsibility to do so.Mark: Tell us about your all-time favorite overseas project.Jeff:We work with a company called InFocus that makes video projectors. They are one of the top brands in their industry and came to us with an interesting dilemma. They had just manufactured a 6-inch digital projector (the first of it’s kind in their industry) and wanted to create a product that would showcase it’s size and portablility to the world. At a price of $4-$7,000 per unit they couldn’t afford to just hand out display models, so they came to ePromos for ideas. We responded by manufacturing an exact replica of the unit, down to the screws, from stress foam. This $5 item was then used as a sales force leave behind and talking piece by InFocus’s sales people world wide. In fact we manufactured more units for Belgium than we did in the states.Mark: And the worst?Jeff: I used a factory in Asia for an order of 100,000 mint tins. The factory did a great job of manufacturing the tins, but the mints came in with almost no taste whatsoever. The client didn’t even want to accept them. It was clearly our responsibility to make sure the customer is satisfied with the final product, so we ended up replacing the mints with US made product to make the customer happy. You can actually see those mints all around the country now, and we are working on a reorder as we speak. I also learned a valuable lesson here. Sometimes using overseas to shave a few pennies off a price just isn’t worth it. When it comes to something like food, it is better to pay a little more and have control over the process.