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?