Manufacturing Success Stories
Five Person Company Launches New Hair Product, Projects Millions in Sales
The hair care retail market is a billion dollar industry populated with giant corporations with seemingly limitless resources and thousands of different products. So, when the five-person consumer product design and manufacturing firm, New Basics, Inc. of Boston, decided to enter the market with a new product, they knew the competition would be stiffer than a head full of hair spray.
Although a small company, New Basics doesn’t lack anything when it comes to innovative thinking and design. New Basics has been a virtual operation since its founding and relies heavily on outsourcing most of its engineering and manufacturing to a talented group of contractors. When the company completed the design of its second generation EZcolour™ Hair Coloring Applicator, in the Fall of 2003, it knew it had a winning product. But before they could move from the drawing board to store shelves, the company needed advice, counseling, and guidance on the complex process of molding and manufacturing the new product and conducting initial trials and pilot phases.
“New Basics management contacted Joe Rizzo, a Lead Project Manager with the MassMEP to help the company through this critical product development area”, said Lorrayne Dina Chu, President and Founder of New Basics, Inc. “Joe served as New Basics’ manufacturing advisor and collaborated closely with our senior management team and our product design firm, ITEM New Product Development (Item NPD) of Providence, RI.”
A year later, New Basics is projecting sales of EZcolour to reach more than one million units annually and they have begun evaluating a strategic manufacturing diversification plan developed by Joe Rizzo and the Mass MEP, especially for New Basics. Even as a small company, New Basics understands that in order to sell on multiple continents, one contract manufacturer will not be adequate, not only from a risk management perspective, but also from the customer’s perspective. In order to accelerate and mange “time to market” and costs related to inventory build and shipment, New Basics is searching for a United States based manufacturer to compliment the mass-production capabilities of its Chinese contract manufacturer. Based on projected sales figures for 2005, the company expects to increase sales by millions of dollars.
“The goal of the MassMEP is to work with small manufacturers to help them access the means to compete against large-scale and overseas competition and to develop the skills to meet the daily challenges of the manufacturing world," said Rizzo. “When I met with New Basics, they already had a great idea and product design, but they needed guidance in establishing a high quality manufacturing process and a need to systematize the pilot testing of the product.”
Rizzo participated in the final design review of the EZcolour Hair Coloring Applicator Brush, working closely with New Basics’ management team and their design firm, providing technical assistance in identifying the areas critical to high volume manufacturing. He also reviewed the design of the molds and the capacity plans for the scale-up of production. Throughout the process, he provided input to help improve the molds and contributed to the development of a comprehensive Quality Manual.
“We were in a state of manufacturing disarray before we met Joe Rizzo,” said Chu. “We're a small company with limited resources going up against large corporations in a highly competitive industry. Joe has served as an invaluable consultant and advisor to our company in the areas of product development, high volume manufacturing, sourcing, and quality assurance.”
Chu says that throughout the development of the product, a series of pilot runs helped to demonstrate variability in the product quality over the course of production, surfacing a number of product related defects. Identifying and resolving these issues before rolling out high volume production will result in selling a product that not only is novel, but performs to the customer’s expectations. Working with Rizzo and the Item NPD team, the company identified the root causes of the defects and conducted what is called a Failure Effects Mode Analysis, designed to help eliminate the flaws during the full production runs.
New Basics expects that a certain percentage of its product portfolio will continue to be produced overseas, but it also has its sights on manufacturing in the United States. While working closely with Rizzo and the MassMEP, the company realizes that certain aspects of manufacturing can be produced competitively in the United States. With innovation its top priority, we expect to see many interesting and good products coming from this up and coming company.
Full-scale production of the new product is underway. New Basics is negotiating with major drug store and grocery chains to stock the EZcolour Hair Coloring Applicator Brush. The product is already being sold in retailers across the country as well as on the web through e-tailers. New Basic products are available at http://www.newbasics.com.
“Joe Rizzo and the MassMEP give small manufacturers like New Basics a strong chance to compete and succeed,” said Chu. “We are grateful for the resources the organization offers and the excellence in the advice they provide for the local manufacturing industry.”
The MassMEP is an affiliate of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP system is a network of manufacturing extension centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2,000 manufacturing and business “coaches” whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits, and enhanced global competitiveness. For more information, please visit http://www.massmep.org, or phone 1-800-MEP-4MFG.