Case study: Build Bikes in USA or Taiwan?

I’m a big fan of Joan Denizot and what she’s doing with her Super Sized Cycles business, which sells bikes designed specifically for larger people.

From her website she sells a variety of models, some of which are handmade for her business in Iowa with assembly at her shop in Vermont. She’s making money, but just barely with her razor thin margins. She needs to decide: Send manufacturing to Taiwan and spend the money she saves on marketing, warehousing, and assembly here in the USA? Or keep the manufacturing in the United States, which results in what Joan believes is a superior product with much more individual attention?

The New York Times small business section looked at Joan’s Super Size Cycles business and looked at it as a case study. At the Times‘ small business “Boss” blog, other small business owners weigh in with their opinions on the options that Joan has for her bike business.

Read the story to see what decision Joan made and why she made it, and the Boss blog to see what other small business owners have to say. And if you have any “Supersized” friends who need a bike, send them over to Super Sized Cycles.

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  1. Interesting article. I agree with those who encouraged her to move the manufacturing to Taiwan so that she can focus on growing the business. That is probably her best chance for providing jobs to anyone in the long run.

  2. =v= The oldest bicycle manufacturer in the U.S. is Worksman Cycles. They are also very much a niche market, as they build utility bikes (and trikes), and if they can keep manufacturing them in Queens of all places, there must be somewhere in the U.S. that could build Super Size Cycles.

  3. Interesting article. Time magazine did an article about Brooks Brothers and their ties with a different outcome.,917
    Granted all factors that influence her decision are different between a large manufacturer such as Brooks and a niche market such as hers. Having said all that the cost to manufacture and ship is closing the gap between China and the U.S. The U.S. has been pushing for China to adjust the Yuan exchange rate or tariffs on imports. Either way, that margin for U.S. goods and China goods is closing. It'll be a decision based on availability of manufacturers in the U.S. as opposed to cost comparison.

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