Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Proactively Navigating The Changing Climate In The Hair Replacement Industry

Dung Dao, VP of Global SupplyIt's been a while since you've heard from me, I admit. Let's just say that since the day I started working here I've been alittle busy...
You see, I'm the guy who is responsible for ensuring your hair system is properly made and delivered to you as scheduled, and at the best possible value. I'm also the guy who constantly works with the founder of Hair Direct to come up with new product ideas for hair wearers. You may not know this, but I am a long time customer of HD. And, for the last few years I've been the VP of Global Supply Chain.
You've asked questions in the Community and maybe have experienced some hiccups in your orders. Now that the new year is in full swing, I'd like to update you on the current supply landscape of the hair replacement industry and what we've been doing to stay ahead of the curve.   

Big changes in China

As a customer myself, I understand your emotional stressors when it comes to your hair and I understand your need for a quality and timely product. Since my focus is supply chain, I know what we must do to meet those needs on a sustainable basis. To successfully provide viable products for our customers well into the future, I have spent the majority of my time over the past three years in Southeast Asia, developing a growing supplier network spanning across four different countries (so far).
As new industries move into China, it has also attracted the labor force away from the hair industry with much less labor-intensive jobs. In addition, this has caused labor costs to increase.
It was not too long ago that factories had hundreds or even thousands of workers under one roof to produce handmade hair systems from start to finish. That is no longer the case. Factories now have most of the ventilation work done remotely by contracted workers. To make matters worse, because of the limited amount of ventilators available, many of the factories end up having to share them. This often results in delays and inconsistency in workmanship, as has been experienced throughout the industry as of late.

Building relationships with new suppliers takes time

Finding and grooming factories that can produce hair systems to our standards takes time, and a lot of relationship building. There is a lengthy process required to establish clear communication across different cultural divides to reach a common understanding of language being used, best practices and standards for our products. After more than six months of qualification testing and trials, our supplier network has expanded to include two more new partnering factories in countries outside of China, with a third one scheduled to go live by the second quarter of 2014. As our business grows alongside the ever-changing global economy and its supply chain, we continue to search for additional partners in other parts of the world so that we can be prepared to bring them on when consumer demands require further expansion.    

Moving forward with positive feedback

We've been shipping orders from our current supplier network and have gotten a lot of positive feedback. Further relationship building with our partners will continue to translate into improvement in delivery times and product consistency for our customers going forward. In 2014, we will further focus on establishing a common standard for our hair systems among all the factories so that regardless of where a system is made, the same quality and consistency can be expected. This is not a quick or easy thing to do but we are determined to take it on head first! As Josh and Melissa have mentioned, we'll also begin to further streamline the ordering process and develop comprehensive specification guidelines so we can be more accurate in advising customers and factories with custom order design and manufacturing. 
I've spent over 29 years of progressive professional experience in corporate/plant/engineering/project management and new business/product development both in the U.S. and Asia with quite a few patents on products and processes under my name. Having done and seen all that, I can say with certainty that hair system manufacturing is perhaps one of the most complex handmade products in the consumer market today. Being able to deliver a system which meets our customer's expectation time and time again is no small task. Yet, that is our commitment to you--our customers--to provide an exceptional customer experience each and every time we are given the opportunity.
We're doing our best to navigate a challenging industry and bring you the best product we can at a great value. If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to leave them below. We'd love to hear what's working for you or how to help you have a better experience.

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