Wike Featured in the “Financial Post”
2014 03 15
â€‹Wike is featured in the Financial Post on March 1, 2014. Article explains how a North American manufacture can compete globally with a market dominated by Asian manufacturers
Bob Bell, founder of Guelph, Ont.-based Wike, makers of versatile bicycle trailers, is excited about growth opportunities outside Canada.
Wike already has a foothold in Europe, in the U.K., Finland, Sweden, Germany and Denmark and is now establishing its own service and distribution centre in Lithuania. The centre will allow Wike to customize its niche products for European consumers while facilitating global distribution.
As a small company with less than 10 employees, Mr. Bell attributes its ability to grow globally with a decision he made 12 years ago to rethink the traditional supply chain model. â€œWe didnâ€™t want to send manufacturing offshore, as so many companies have â€” the bicycle industry almost exclusively manufactures offshore. In contrast, our entire supply chain is Canadian, with the exception of wheels, which come from Taiwan,â€ he said.
â€œThat forced us into a different business model: We manufacture and sell direct cutting out the need for distributors and retailers. Our customers come to our website and place their order. We partnered with global logistics provider UPS to ship our products across North America. Seven years ago, when we began selling into Europe, we evolved that relationship and had our products shipped to a UPS warehouse in Coventry, England.â€ Since then, Wike has enjoyed 25% to 30% year-over-year growth for the past three years.
The success of Wikeâ€™s supply chain strategy is reflected in a recent survey of Canadian businesses commissioned by UPS Canada and conducted by Leger Marketing. Findings show 84% of business leaders agreed that a well-managed supply chain is a key competitive advantage in todayâ€™s global economy and 80% of businesses with a supply chain/shipping strategy met or exceeded their growth targets last year. The survey also found that businesses with a supply chain strategy were 12% more likely to meet or exceed their growth targets compared to those that did not have one. That said, only 50% of respondents had a supply chain strategy in place and 30% reported supply chain was not a priority because their businesses were too small.
This is a missed opportunity, particularly as the new Canadian trade agreement with Europe means there has never been a better time for Canadian businesses to look beyond North America, Jim Ramsay, vice-president of Global Freight Forwarding, UPS Canada, said.
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â€œThis requires small- to mid-sized businesses to think about integrating supply chain into their business model more than they have in the past. Supply chain is not just the domain of the major retailers or multinationals around the world, it applies to smaller businesses, too.â€
Toronto-based manufacturer GelaSkins, which makes technology accessories such as smartphone and tablet covers, among other items, agrees. â€œNot unlike many SMBs, we learn as we go and our supply chain strategy has evolved in much the same way,â€ said Cale Fair, manager of business development at GelaSkins.
â€œWe have been able to use our supply chain to help us understand where the opportunities are and take advantage of every channel we have to enter new markets. Our supply chain is a big part of our business model and it has helped us achieve double-digit growth year over year.â€
Jim Ramsay, vice-president of Global Freight Forwarding, UPS Canada, offers a few key steps to help businesses get started:
â€¢ Find out what your customers expect when they place an order. Is it all about cost effectiveness or is it about customizing and fast transit? How much inventory will you need to maintain to address both of those requirements? Do your technology, site and customer service tools line up with those expectations?
â€¢ Where are your customers? Are they clustered together or spread out? You need to think about this early on and build your supply chain accordingly.
â€¢ Tap into the expertise from organizations such as Canadian Manufacturerâ€™s Exporters and Export Development Canada.
â€¢ Establish scalable partnerships with your suppliers so you can leverage their depth and breadth of capabilities and networks rather than building your own. This means choosing partners that have the ability to flex on your behalf more quickly than you can on your own. For example, choose a logistics provider that has a trade management services group that helps with understanding the rules and regulations for importing into different geographies.