California-based mountain bike apparel company Kitsbow announced this week that they will open a new facility near Asheville, North Carolina. The purpose of the new spot is to help the company achieve its goal of Made in the USA, just-in-time product delivery.
Pioneered by Toyota, just-in-time delivery involves the process of producing and delivering finished goods at the time they are required for sale, as opposed to batch ordering a bunch of product at the beginning of the season and holding it in inventory. The standard in the cycling and outdoor industry is for companies to contract with manufacturers in Asia to make their products in large quantities that must be pre-ordered 9-12 months in advance.
In addition to the cost of holding inventory, 30-40% of all the clothes made end up having to be destroyed. That’s after they have been discounted and marked down. The waste is directly related to the batch-processing mindset, essentially guessing at what customers like you will want to buy 12 months (or more) from now.
So to get rid of this problem, Kitsbow plans to manufacture their own gear in a just-in-time fashion at the new facility near Asheville. It’s a great way for a small company to deliver to you exactly what you want, in the size and color you want. This year, Kitsbow is already making about 25% of our revenue from product they manufacture themselves, but they plan to make this 100% in the next two years.
That means they need at least 40 operators making clothes for you, and they can’t do that in California. The company will invest $890,000 in operating the manufacturing and distribution facility in Old Fort near Asheville and will create 53 new jobs in the process.
In addition to being more affordable than California, the cycling community in Asheville is strong and vibrant. The new facility has two world-class singletrack trails within 2 miles, a mountain bike race starts and finishes a block away, and the building is surrounded by thousands of acres of the Pisgah National Forest. A perfect spot to manufacture bike apparel.