Thanks for being patient with us as we waited through the lunar new year celebration--it's over!
Skip down to the next section if you just want the quick status update. For those of you that love the details, here's a little book report about what goes on behind-the-scenes with industries that rely on China for goods. We find it fascinating, and you might too!
What's the big deal with Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year is a big deal. It's a challenge for any supply chain anywhere in the world that works with China, and even has its own acronym (CNY). Officially, it took place February 19 - 25, 2015, but anyone with experience manufacturing in China advises to conservatively plan forno production or shipments leaving China during the entire month of February, and for reduced output during the first half of March. The basic business impact is that nothing gets made or shipped, because workplaces shut down for a while, and start back up again slowly.
There's a huge human element to this which we've found fascinating. Most factory employees aren't from the big industrial meccas where they spend their working hours. They migrate to the industrial centers from all over rural China to find work and make a good wage. For most of these workers, Chinese New Year is the only time during the year when they can travel back to their hometowns and spend time with their families. We're glad they have this annual opportunity; as impatient as we may be to finish production, it's nice to know the workers are getting a break to rest and enjoy life with loved ones. The migration of workers out of China's cities is the largest annual migration of humans in the world. A whopping 2.8 Billion trips are taken by China's 1.37 Billion citizens during the holiday, an outstanding 2 trips per capita. Compare that to 0.14 trips per capita by US citizens during the Thanksgiving holiday. It's an Exodus. (Source: Bloomberg)
But, back to business. As the holiday draws to a close, it's a very stressful time for factory owners. Some workers take extended time off, and don't return for another few weeks. It's usually a slow start to get manufacturing back up to 100%. For many factory owners, the question isn't "when will my workers return," it's "will my workers return?" Some workers use the long break to seek other work, or make a career change. It's possible that after the new year ends, a factory could be missing a large part of their labor force, and have to hire and train new workers quickly.
Interested in reading more? Here are a few starting points:
- Chinese New Year / Spring Festival - Wikipedia
- Boston Globe Article - Chinese New Year and its Effect on the World Economy
The good news for Standard Spoon is that our factory didn't have any significant challenges getting back up and running after Chinese New Year -- phew! It did take a little time to get someone out to the factory to check on progress, but we spoke with our manufacturing coordinator last night and the news is good. The first run of each spoon (which was started before CNY) is back in progress at the investment casting factory. We have no manufacturing issues to report at this time (yes!).
Estimates are that the casting will be finished by the end of this month, and then the spoons will go to the polishing factory. Polishing and Quality Assurance will take up the first three weeks in April. Then they'll be flown over to us in San Diego for packaging, fulfillment, and shipment to you.
We decided a while ago that we'd be shipping via Air from China, which is more expensive but significantly reduces transportation time. It's also a good call considering the significant delays taking place out of the Port of Long Beach. We spoke with a friend who just received a shipment this week that had been sitting on the docks since December -- yikes!
Air shipping and customs will still take 10-15 days, so it's looking like packaging will take place mid-May, and the first spoons will ship out to backers by the end of May. We'll be clearing our calendars for their arrival so that as soon as we get the shipment, we have one priority, and one priority only - getting them back in the mail!
Rachel Eva and Shawn Michael