Fox River Brand Manager Jennifer Whitley says the company, though more than a century old, continues to maintain its American Made mantra. Find out how:
Since Fox River began in 1900, the textile industry-and needless to say the world its customers inhabit-has changed radically. How has the company remained successful without shifting production overseas?
Fox River is an original American brand. We feel that US production of our product is an important part of maintaining our quality. While the world has definitely changed over the last 111 years, Fox River remains committed to being American-made. We’ve maintained our success by controlling our costs internally and not relying on overseas production. As well as our ability to innovate allows us to maintain our price point and exclusivity within the industry.
What have been the greatest benefits of developing and manufacturing products in the United States?
One of the greatest benefits of developing and manufacturing products locally is controlling the quality personally – we see the product right as it’s being knit, in our case. This allows us to adapt and make sure we’re maintaining the quality and value our customers have come to expect from Fox River. Additionally, being manufactured here where we live, we know what kind of environmental impact making our products has. Living right here where our products are made keeps us all focused on reducing our impact on the environment for today and tomorrow. Manufacturing in the Midwest also gives us great distribution access for reaching US-based retailers. Being half-way between both coasts allows us to quickly ship to anyone, without the overseas lag-time.
What have been the greatest challenges?
That’s a tough question. But a continuous challenge for any manufacturer is controlling costs -especially raw material costs. Those fluctuations definitely make a big difference in the final cost to produce a pair of socks.
To what degree do you feel consumers value goods made in America? Have you seen a change in these sentiments recently?
We have seen an up-tick in consumer concern for American-made goods. The global economic crisis has really brought a lot of issues about international manufacturing into perspective. Manufacturing domestically supports our national, regional and local economies. Plus, it employs family, friends and neighbors who have recently found themselves out of work. With manufacturing being pushed abroad over the last several decades, many of those job opportunities have dried up. Beyond just the consumers though, retailers and chains have shown great interest in domestically made product as well because of shorter lead times from order to floor… and the “Made in the USA” factor shows consumers that retailers care also.
Does Fox River manufacture products for other companies? If so, to what degree do you feel these companies work with you because of your commitment to manufacturing products domestically?
Fox River does some private label manufacturing for other companies. These companies, both domestic and international, turn to Fox River primarily because of our commitment to quality and innovation. The fact that we manufacture products domestically supports their quality concern and in many instances shortens their time to market. For some brands, the fact that they can claim to be “Made in the USA” on their package is critical to their brand and marketing efforts.
As the labor and transportation costs associated with manufacturing apparel abroad continue to rise, do you anticipate many companies returning apparel production to the United States?
We do see a return to domestic manufacturing in the apparel and textile market for the future. To what extent has yet to unfold. While American-made products are important to the consumer, so is the price. Being able to remain cost-effective and provide what we like to call “true American value” to consumers will really define the future of the US apparel market. Things will never return to what they once were in domestic manufacturing, but the return signals awareness and understanding from the consumer that they want higher quality apparel and that’s just what we offer.