Episode 277 Featuring Alex Bond

Globalized Sourcing Solutions with Jim Kennemer

Globalized Sourcing Solutions with Jim Kennemer

Jim Kennemer is the Founder and Managing Director of Cosmo Sourcing, a full-service, general sourcing company with branches in China, Vietnam, and the US. Jim founded Cosmo Sourcing in Shanghai in 2012 and initially focused on sourcing outdoor gear under Hartford Outdoor Sports Supply. However, in 2014, he recognized the opportunity of Vietnam as a sourcing destination and moved to Ho Chi Minh City. At that time, he shifted to a general sourcing company and renamed it Cosmo Sourcing. Since then, he has helped over 1,000 clients find suppliers in China and Vietnam.

On this episode, Jim and I discuss the viability of Vietnam as a sourcing location, his experience creating a globalized workforce, the value of being adaptable, and much more.


What is Cosmo Sourcing

[00:00:43] Jim Kennemer: Oh yeah. So Cosmo Sourcing is a full service sourcing company. We have teams based in Shanghai and Ho Chi Minh City as well as Madison, Wisconsin, which is where I live. We started Cosmo Sourcing in 2012, originally Shanghai focused on China sourcing. 2014, I decided to actually move to Vietnam and started sourcing from Vietnam as well. I was one of the first sourcing companies in Vietnam. I think I'm the second or third oldest sourcing company. Yeah, I've been sourcing largely from both countries since 2014. And then, yeah, we help clients of all sizes. 

Strategic Shifts: Navigating Rapid Business Pivots from Shanghai to Ho Chi Minh City

[00:01:10] Alex Bond: And I think that story is kind of interesting. I did a little research on you and I think that ability to you know, essentially planned to source outdoor gear, right. And then Shanghai in 2012. And then just two years later, deciding to relocate to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and end up broadening your, your scope and the business model a little bit. I'm curious what made you make that pivot so rapidly? 

[00:01:35] Jim Kennemer: Yeah, so I think with outdoor gear, like I started Hartford Outdoor Sports Supply. I might want to, I did a part of the athleisure trail and my athleisure trail name was Hoss. So I kind of ran with that at HOSS. And I used to also be a water rafting guide, so I had connections in the industry already.

So I think it's just kind of natural place for me to start. I knew people who would buy supplies. And so I started just sourcing those just cause I was in China. I was living in China at the time working on a related job. Actually, I was a project manager for a tech company. So I did this on the side and just started sourcing the outdoor gear.

So I did rafts, I did kayaks, I did paddles, I did helmets, life jackets, PDF gear, a bunch of other stuff originally. After a while just, kind of separately and together, kind of more or less just people knew us in China and they were, you know, looking at factories. So they started asking me on the side, you know, to visit factories for them, maybe verify some factories, find factories for various suppliers.

So I started doing that on the side in 2012 when I was, working that in 2013 ish, I actually decided to quit my job and kind of focus on sourcing full time. Yeah, also in 2013 I visited Vietnam on vacation, just loved the country. I was living in China for two years, kind of got burned out by it as well.

It's kind of frustrating country living, if I'm being honest. August 2014, I decided to move to Vietnam, started focusing on Vietnam sourcing, as well as China. I was still doing a lot of China sourcing. Yeah, I just fell in love with the country and started doing that. At the time, transpacific partnership was isn't talking.

It was pretty late stages about to be approved. It did not get approved for the record, but it was at a time, the largest free trade agreement in the world. 14 countries that also order the Pacific Rim, including Vietnam, would have been signed it. Yeah, even then, even though it didn't pass or got repealed. I still had plenty of clients to reach out to me.

So I spent a year and a half living in Vietnam. I'm focusing at that time. And then, yeah, I started sourcing a lot of wooden industrial goods. It was kind of my specialty at the time. I did wheelbarrow handles, giant spools for cables, like the huge ones that are like eight feet wide. But yeah, from there I've done pretty much everything. I do a lot of clothing, a lot of backpacks, a lot of furniture, state metal goods, silicone goods. 

[00:03:29] Alex Bond: It sounds like a little bit of everything, honestly. 

[00:03:31] Jim Kennemer: Yeah. We're a general sourcing company. So basically if it can't be made in Either Vietnam or China, we can source it for you as long as there's fire, we can do it. So we pretty much do everything about perishable goods. So we don't do food items. But other than that, we do everything. 

[00:03:43] Alex Bond: No, that's awesome. And I think there's something, you know, I kind of want to talk about maybe what you learned in there, but I got to say, I think it's something interesting and kind of like starting with what, you know, and then actually outdoor gear, you had a history and and a perspective of like, what do people want? And what do people need? So this is what I can provide them then because you have insight. 

[00:04:04] Jim Kennemer: So I knew quality. It was important. So I knew what good quality looked like and what it looked like. That to me was what people liked about it. As I could actually, you know, fill a paddle and know to win a break.

[00:04:16] Alex Bond: But then I find like people like yourself and entrepreneurs they kind of start with what they know and then they end up giving people, they end up coming up with a brand new idea and then providing people with that because they can kind of take that train of thought and just run with it, you know? And I think there's something pretty cool there. 

[00:04:33] Jim Kennemer: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a great way to start is what, you know, and then I, for me, I knew two things. I knew at the time I knew kind of why we're rafting the outdoor industry. I connections with that. And I knew China, so it was just combining those two things and bring stuff to the market at the time.

Then as I did that, I got familiar more with sourcing, how to buy products, how to negotiate with factories, how to work with factories, et cetera. And then yeah, it started kind of general sourcing after about a year. 

Adaptability in Entrepreneurship: The Vital Skill for Navigating Business Changes and Personal Growth

[00:04:57] Alex Bond: Well, and I'm curious if you think that that's kind of like an important skill that entrepreneurs and business owners should be able to develop because really it's just being adaptable.

I mean, there's a little bit of personal in there of like, I didn't really love living in China, but it also. I felt like was a business move at the same time. So I'm curious if being adaptable is as vital as it seems like it is in your story. 

[00:05:19] Jim Kennemer: Absolutely. As you do things, I think one big thing is just going and do it and then learn as you go.

And then as you learn, you obviously got to adapt because you got to learn new skills, got to go new places. Like with China, I like living in China. I didn't hate it for the record. I just, you know, two years. It's a small little nitpicks here, but yeah, I mean, just after living there for two years, just being in China, there was already like a hundred sourcing companies, a hundred sourcing agents that, you know, I was competing against.

So there was no, outside of like my connections with the outdoor industry and a few other personal connections, I didn't really have a leg up, you know, competitive advantage for these other sourcing companies. So like I moved to Vietnam and at the time, a lot of whispered that or talk that Vietnam would be the next big country to kind of explode and grow.

So I kind of visiting Vietnam loved it. I just kind of knew that there was nobody really sourcing from Vietnam. So for me, I was just looking for a competitive advantage and, you know, I visit on vacation for two weeks. Just fell in love with the country, like great food, friendly people, great weather, I'm a warm weather guy, even though I live in Wisconsin.

Yeah. So it was just, you know, I was just like, I'd rather be here than there. I was willing to take that chance. And, you know, I had to learn also the differences of Vietnam. Like it was, it's not a quick start at all. Culturally, and the way businesses operate, the way factories like to work and whatnot is radically, not radically different, but it's different from China.

So you have to learn those nuances, those differences, those changes and adapt it, for instance, and adapt our business model a little bit to work with Vietnamese suppliers because they prefer to work directly with the end client. In China, you can negotiate and, you know, we're a traditional sourcing agency where you took a commission and people pay us, but then we moved to Vietnam.

So the factories just did not like the business model. So we changed our business model so that the factories could connect directly with the clients. And that's kind of one thing we had learned in the dead out for instance. 

Cultural Nuances in Business: Navigating Global Etiquette and Insights for Success

[00:07:03] Alex Bond: And I'm curious about some of those more things that you learned. I also wanted to mention, I think that those, a lot of people don't totally understand these nuances that you're referring to. I mean, I saw something just the other day about how it's like a swiss custom to have chit chat or some sort of small talk for the first five to 10 minutes of a business meeting before you get into business. I mean, and that's like totally customary. 

And if you don't do it, it's a massive faux pas. And so I just wanted to kind of mention that because, you know, most business owners only think globally and maybe don't understand these intricate nuances or they just work in a specific country. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about that. And maybe what you learned from that experience navigating, like literally starting in Vietnam and navigating on from there. 

[00:07:53] Jim Kennemer: Yeah. So, I mean, yeah, definitely. I guess we can start with China custom because China, they're all about relationship building when you talk to factories. So, kind of, it's more than just chit chat. Like, when I visit a factory in China, we'll usually go instead of factory, go somewhere, eat lunch, spend an hour to meeting with the team talking. This is never discussed, really. 

You're just talking about personal life, things you enjoy eating and drinking. They also like to try and get you drunk for the meetings because I think they think you're more like a naked drunk, to be honest.

So I have to really restrict my drinking a lot of times. But yeah, and then you spend the two hours like talking with the team in that way, and then you go to the factory and then. That's kind of when you start seeing the factory and kind of talking business. Vietnam. Yeah. It's a little bit more casual.

Like when we do business meetings, like we go straight to the factory. A lot of the factories, they don't have, some will have dedicated salespeople, but a lot of times they'll just have managers and engineers who do sales as a secondary thing. So they're a lot more direct. Like I'll make small talk like five, 10 minutes fine.

But then it's pretty quickly straight to business and like when you're talking to engineer, you know, it's all numbers. So it's a lot more direct, a lot more straight to the point, which I don't know. Some people like some people don't work with a lot of people that, you know, done business in China for 10 years.

And then they go to Vietnam and they're like, Oh, this, these people don't want to do business with us. They just kind of push this in and out really quick. And we're like, no, that's actually just how they work. So, you know, you just got to kind of just expectations there. The other thing too, like I mentioned the kind of business model, like we charge a flat rate and we do that for transparency in Vietnam.

And we actually do that in China now too. There's a lot of distrust with kind of middlemen, the factories, like just. Make the product straight, sell straight to the factory. So like we had to adjust that kind of something we learned kind of talking a lot of factories after a while. So we always let them know that the work for the end client.

So it's just a lot of, you know, just building trust. I think they're a little bit slower sometimes, but I mean, if you're Want to do business, you got money money talks. So I mean, it's not hard to do business if you're a serious client, obviously it's just, you know, those small differences like that.

Unveiling Vietnam's Appeal as a Prime Sourcing Destination

[00:09:48] Alex Bond: No, I think that's fascinating. Especially, you know, kind of what you took away from that. And I don't know, I really liked the transparency piece and there's a line between being honest and transparent and being like Kurt. And so other people can conflate one with the other sometimes. And that's cool that you were able to actually cater to that.

I'm curious outside from, you know, the market share is kind of what I'm hearing you say, what makes Vietnam such a prime location for sourcing solutions. I mean, why Vietnam instead of Cambodia or something like that, that might not have that you could still have market share. 

[00:10:26] Jim Kennemer: Yeah, I mean, Vietnam is developing. It's kind of on the early steps. Like, there's this, like I read a book a while ago about the Asian model of developing countries and more or less four steps, you know, and like Taiwan, Japan, Korea, they're the fourth step. China is probably a third step. And Vietnam is that second step.

More or less, and it's just how they develop, how they kind of have build industry kind of focus on lower kind of quality goods and not lower quality, but lower cost goes to really kind of build up their industrial base. And so, I mean, 10 years ago, Vietnam was pre trade war really. You know, I've had a huge explosion post trade war pre trade war.

Vietnam is definitely spending a lot of money to, like, build infrastructure, build factory industrial parks. There's a lot of investment in factories. It was kind of really growing. And you can just see that there was really that ambition and kind of a government that was somewhat proactive, somewhat laissez faire and that they, you know, in terms of regulation is still a communist country.

Yeah, I mean, there's just that growth there. I mean, it's also a bigger country. I mean, Vietnam has 93 million people, almost 100 million. Actually, I think it's 97 now. So almost a hundred million. So it's a good base. It has a large young population. And so, I mean, there's just all the numbers and all the factors were there versus, you know, Cambodia is just less developed in terms of like electricity, infrastructure, corruption, honestly.

We dabbled, we may have source in Cambodia, actually, just cause a lot of Vietnamese factories have all factories in Cambodia too, but I just asked you a child labor and other workers conditions. It's pretty bad in Cambodia. I don't trust it. We've dabbled in Thailand, we've dabbled in Malaysia, we've dabbled in Indonesia too those are all in Taiwan as well, so we have sourced from those countries, but for us, just once you get down to it, Vietnam really offers a lot, pretty much everything that we kind of want.

And just really kind of go to a good base from there. It checks multiple boxes. Yeah. It checks multiple boxes. Like its low labor costs, good enough infrastructure. It's porous China, which for a lot of things, like when we do backpacks, for instance, we'll get the zippers, we'll get the metal fasteners, the buckles, whatnot, those will be actually made in China, shipped to Vietnam, and then there would be incorporated design.

We knew furniture, the hinges, for instance some metal parts. We'll source those from China. So, I mean, just being close to China too, you still have the whole total supply chain. It's pretty easy to actually honestly import stuff from China, Vietnam to be incorporated in the final project product. But it does, yeah, it does click a lot of boxes.

Like the people in Vietnam are a lot more pretty technical, so we can do a lot more high end fabric, like backpacks and stuff with technical fabrics which is pretty good. It's, yeah, it's a young workforce. I think the average age in Vietnam is 23 or something pretty low. 


Strategic Supplier Vetting: Navigating the Complexities of Location-Specific Sourcing Decisions

[00:12:53] Alex Bond: I'm curious if you could expand on expand and contract at the same time, because he essentially, I'm curious what specific things that you look at when you're vetting suppliers, sourcing solutions, some of these even more specific things. I mean, we talked about like the politics and child labor and cost and all that stuff, but maybe even when you're going to specific locations, what you look at this place versus this place, even though they could be in the same city, even, or the same country.

[00:13:25] Jim Kennemer: A lot of times, I mean, with the factories age really kind of varies. So we do work a lot of our factories are a little rusty, but they still make good products, especially metal goods. But when you vet a factory, I mean you just gotta look at what they make, what equipment they have on hand, and kind of the similar products.

So I mean, it really varies client by client. Like we're doing some metal tubing right now. I mean, that one's pretty industrial, so it's either they can or they can't make it because you've got specific what's the tubing. For instance we do bag factories. We have done tons of bag factories, so we have a pretty solid, reliable network.

We know what factories are good or not just from the quality they make. And you look at a lot of times, like if they have exported before, just cause you know, there's regulations in the United States about certain materials, certain aspects that you need to meet, like wooden goods, for instance, like when we talked to a factory about wooden goods, you got to make sure that they don't use formaldehyde, for instance, because that's illegal.

You can't import products that view formaldehyde in the United States, for instance so you got to comply with Lacey Act, which kind of documents the origin of the wood, make sure it's more or less ethically sourced defumigated, all that. So, you know, once you talk to factories, more or less just kind of quiz them on those things, and then you can, you know, tell by the answer of their.

You don't ask yes or no questions. You just ask kind of big questions like are you familiar like tell me about your fumigation methods for instance and then you kind of vet them from there check business licenses stuff vietnam's good too because they have a program called vietnam credit which tests the credit worthiness is public information for instance so You can actually check their credit worthiness.

It's more or less just a good or bad rating. But if they're in good standing you can check their credit worthiness with a government database and see that, you know, they have all their business license in place and they, you know, are reputable, I guess. 

[00:14:57] Alex Bond: That's pretty cool. 

[00:14:58] Jim Kennemer: Resources too. 

[00:14:59] Alex Bond: Yeah, no, that sounds like a great resource.

[00:15:00] Jim Kennemer: Yeah, it's run by the government too so it's just a big central database for the whole country and every registered business. Basically, you make sure they're in good standing with the banks and business license and all that. 

Balancing Act: From Hands-On Overseas Operations to Life in Madison - Reflecting on the Transition

[00:15:09] Alex Bond: I'm curious about how you feel about that. I mean, clearly you are hands on, but now you live in Madison. You know, when I look at the website, there's obviously a bunch of pictures of you at these factories on hand talking to, you know, people on the line, honestly, and I thought that was pretty cool and, and now it's, do you kind of miss that? I mean, you've lived in China for a few years and you lived in Vietnam for a few years, but I imagine came back home, maybe, maybe, you know, settled down, had a family. Do you kind of miss that hands on aspect? 

[00:15:39] Jim Kennemer: Had wife and kid and everything in the States now, but yeah, we have a team based in Ho Chi Minh City. So honestly, in terms of on the ground work, they do most of the work for us. We also have a team in Shanghai. So, yeah, in terms of on the ground work, they do all that for the most part, but I try to travel as much as I can.

I was just there in May, visiting Vietnam. Hope to go back sooner than later. But yeah, I mean, before COVID, I was in Vietnam for three to six months a year and another three months ish in China, went to three months in China as well, just traveling and visiting factories and You know, working on projects, but yeah, I mean, COVID kind of disrupted that. And then during COVID, yeah, I had a kid and started a family. 

[00:16:13] Alex Bond: Are you circling any other new prospect in terms of countries? 

[00:16:19] Jim Kennemer: Yeah. I mean, yeah, we're constantly looking at expanding. I would say Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan prior to Indonesia, our top targets. We've done a little bit with Sri Lanka just because there's one single huge apartment manufacturer that makes everything from Lululemon to Victoria's Secret.

But other than that one giant factory that literally employs about 200, 000 or 300, 000 or multiple factories that employs 200, people. There's not too much in Sri Lanka, but yeah, those are the main countries that we look at. And we've done projects in all those countries. I lived in Taiwan for 3 months, for instance, and Taiwan does a lot with higher end precision stuff.

A lot of high end electronics we're looking at doing some manufactured aircraft parts for aircraft lighting, actually aftermarket aircraft lighting for, like, going in airpress jets, actually. So, you know, that was high end precision stuff and then recycled plastics actually have one of the best, they have the best recycling rate in the world.

And from that, they actually make a tons of fabrics and products from recycled plastic. So if you're environmental, so we actually do some dabble getting some fabrics imported from Taiwan, for instance, to Vietnam for that use recycled bottles, for instance, Thailand, Indonesia does. 

So Vietnam's largest shoe manufacturer, we've done some boots and some other winning goods, industrial winning goods. And in Asia we've done bolts and some metal parts in middle Asia and Thailand does a few random parts too. 

Sustainability and Competitive Edge: The Unique Value Proposition of Cosmo Sourcing

[00:17:34] Alex Bond: One I wanted to mention, I feel like that's becoming even more, I've talked to some people in logistics and sourcing who use entirely sustainable, you know, they don't use any specific products and it's way more costly. I got to tell you. 

But there is that environmental aspect that is a major selling point. So I'm curious if Cosmo Sourcing. One, I commend you for working with the recyclable materials, if there's any sort of, what would you consider Cosmo Sourcing is like whole, you know, what's that sort of pitch of why you, instead of someone else? 

[00:18:12] Jim Kennemer: I think just generally experience, like we've been in Vietnam for almost 10 years now we're still, we're definitely want to mix experience in Vietnam.

Like our full transparency, like we actually disclosed the full name, contact information or free to work directly with factories. I think it's a big one, too. Yeah, like with our pricing. I know since we're not commission based, we work directly with the client. So we actually we're holding to advocate for the client and set our clients or customers instead of the factory.

So we're pretty flexible and get multiple quotes for multiple factories. So you can get the best, you get multiple samples. So you can definitely weigh different factories against each other. I think, yeah, I mean, we have experience with sustainable products, too, and environmentally friendly products. Like we do a lot of wooden goods that are FSC certified. 

For instance, you know, we do some clothing that are BSEI certified, CETEC certified, blue sign. And so we can actually bet factories and get those in. And, you know, just from experience, we know, you know, ethical and sustainably sourced materials, whatnot.

Debunking Misconceptions: Shedding Light on Vietnam and Asian Sourcing Realities

[00:19:04] Alex Bond: I'm curious if there are any sort of common misconceptions about Vietnam or even just sourcing in Asia in general, that you would like to dispel in general, like, are there any misconceptions? 

[00:19:18] Jim Kennemer: Honestly, I mean, there are definitely, I mean, no, it's a good question. Yeah, I'm trying to think where to start though.

I mean, just in general, I mean, I think it's pretty good places source. With Vietnam, I mean, I think the big thing is a lot of people kind of go into Vietnam, you know, they source private label products from China, you know, just go on eyeball to get a product, slap a new logo on it. And then they expect that same thing from Vietnam, which is not really doable.

Almost all the factories in Vietnam are contract manufacturers. So, you know, they expect clients to provide product spec sheets, provide design files of the product and they'll make it to the specs, but they don't have like a few do, but not most don't have catalogs of products, just pick and put your name on.

So I mean, a lot of people kind of expect that. And just it's not there. There's a few things like, like we're doing outdoor furniture right now, and there are a few factories that have catalogs and kind of existing designs. But for the most part, it's all going to be custom made products, contract manufacturing, custom made products.

So just kind of expect to do a little bit of work, get design files made, get your product specs made, and then we'll work from a factory to get you that. So a lot of people don't. 

[00:20:16] Alex Bond: That's wild. I mean, people, people just say, I need to sell pens. So make a pen for me. 

[00:20:21] Jim Kennemer: I mean, you can do that in China.

I mean, there's so many factories that just, you know, they make their own designs, make their own products. There's off the shelf stuff. I mean, tons of just go to Alibaba, just look around and I mean, there's literally thousands, thousands vectors in China do that, but Vietnam just doesn't do that. 

[00:20:34] Alex Bond: No, and and I think there's something commendable to that where it's like a little bit of taking pride in your work, a little bit of originality, a little bit of like, you know, we don't wanna put out a product that isn't at the bare minimum to your standards.

You know, if I look online on Alibaba and say, I want this pen and I get it and I didn't like it, then I blame the factory. But if the factory got specs from me. And then I get that product, then it's my fault, not the factory's, you know? 

[00:20:59] Jim Kennemer: Yeah, I mean, you got to really be hands on and like enforce quality. And I mean, that's one of the big values that we do in Vietnam is we're, you know, team on the ground that enforces that. But yeah, it's going to be designed to your specs. So you got to specify, you know, some quality standards. 

But I mean, there's advantages that too. If you source, you know, private label or white label products from China, you don't own those designs, you know, and then. 50 people can also buy from the same factory, same designs, unless you've signed an exclusivity agreement.

But when you take the effort to actually make your own design files, make your own, you know, a product unique to yours, you own that design, that's an asset that you have that has value and allows you to have something unique.

So, I mean, it is extra work. We do talk to a lot of people who don't want to put in that work, just kind of literally we'll get something all volleyball from China. You know, get hit with tariffs. They can do it cheaper in China. We're just, you know, and there's give up because, you know, they got to design files.

They don't want to put that cost or effort in, but there's others that do. And those, you know, there's a lot of these people succeed and so you see quite wildly and they have a unique product that they have, you know, design trademarks on and design brand trademarks and they affect the product on the market.

Insights and Guidance: Navigating the World of Sourcing for Entrepreneurs and Aspiring Professionals

[00:21:59] Alex Bond: I'm curious if you had any advice for you know, anyone who's trying to get in into sourcing, I mean, one, you're probably the second or third person I've talked to about it. And I, and I noticed it's probably great for someone who likes to travel. 

For someone who likes to travel, but I'm curious if you had any advice, whether it's for entrepreneurs who are trying to work with someone like yourself to source their products for you, or if it's for someone who's interested in getting in the sourcing field. Maybe advice that you wish you were given in 2012 when you were first starting out. 

[00:22:34] Jim Kennemer: Yeah, mostly self taught to be honest. So yeah, kind of like a few mentors that kind of helped me out help me get started, but they were, they didn't do too much for me. I kind of, but yeah, I mean, just in general, I think just build up your own connections and kind of.

Like I started out, like I said, specializing, so kind of pick out a niche and kind of work on that. Just going and learn the market, learn the products and whatnot. But in general, I mean, it's a game. It's a business about connections ultimately. So, I mean, for us, like we have a team on the ground that's constantly meeting factories.

I think just today we have six different factories scheduled factory visits scheduled from our various team members. Week we probably visited a dozen factories. Oh. I mean, you've just gotta constantly build connections, talk to factories, reach out to 'em. There's trade shows, so our team's going probably at two or three trade shows a month.

Yeah. I mean, just build those connections up. So, I mean, it's all about networking for this one. You're not going really get by without knowing factories and, you know, I'm fortunate to have a team now, but I mean, when I was first starting, I was the one visiting the factories. I was traveling all throughout China, all throughout Vietnam to meet these factories.

So just building a relationship with factories is kind of key. And then also your clients as well, the relationship with clients. And then kind of knowing products. Like each time we get a new product category, we're pretty good now, but you know, I had to like, learn all about the fabric industry. For instance, when we started doing bags, just how You know, because there's like, if there's stretch, you got to have special things.

There's some that you're going to heat. Well, instead of, so that works better for that one, you know, the different properties, materials, waterproofing difference between nylons and polyesters and cottons and blends and all that. So you just kind of got to learn as you go to say, well, what, like we kind of first, when you did Vietnam, we kind of specialize in wooden goods, which have a lot of unique properties.

Like there's a Lacey Act in the United States. So I mentioned just with how, what is imported, what quality and how to treat wood Work with wood and densities of wood and types of wood that have certain densities because when you're doing like You know, the big industrial spools, they want cheap, you can use the cheapest wood possible.

Just make these things because they were all conscious, but then we're doing wheelbarrow handles and shovel handles. And so, you know, you got to have certain woods at 700 or higher density. And then you got to know what that means, how to shrink test them and all that, which woods you can and can't use. And I don't know, you just keep learning, learning and learning as you go along. 

[00:24:40] Alex Bond: And I think there's something really fascinating about almost having to be, a jack of all trades, you know, a lot of people pick, pick a lane and stay in it. They do textiles and they know everything. They are a total master of textiles, but in the path you've chosen, you have to be kind of a jack of all trades and a master of you at least, you know?

[00:25:02] Jim Kennemer: And yeah, for me, I was just like, my lane is going to be Vietnam cause that's kind of the specialty and focus on what Vietnam does. And then I learned what they do in the specifics of those things, like shoes, I know way more than I should about soles and different foam densities and how to sell. So I'm up and down in the uppers and whatnot.

And so, I mean, Vietnam is limited on what they can do, but what they can do, they have really good at it. So, I mean, there's like five or six different industries and we kind of started expanding one by one, more or less like silicone parts kind of, there's been a lot of investment of silicone on me and injection molding manufacturing over the last year.

So I started to learn more about plastics and silicone and stuff like that. And electronics for years, like electronics, you know, just didn't have an industry. They were like big, like Canon, LG, Samsung and all them made their phones and TVs and stuff in Vietnam. But, you know, they were only making work.

Samsung are those clients. But there's been growing on electronics sector too. So now we're like learning about a lot about electronics and ODM electronics, OEM electronics. So we're starting to take on more electronic projects, which electronics is just like whole another beast. This kind of newest one that we're kind of learning because it just wasn't a thing in Vietnam.

And we do rely a lot of time on our clients to be the experts and our factories to be the experts and then us to just be the, the introducer, the person who connects them. But you still have to, you know, understand the basics. So like we're doing some Bluetooth stuff to just help Bluetooth raise work with when we were betting factories, you know, we got to learn some stuff about that for instance.

But yeah, we do kind of rely a lot of times on our clients to be the experts, the ultimate experts, you know, and just us to have a rudimentary understanding in which we can kind of bet factories. And then once we can. You know, not enough to bed them and then do introductions, make sure they're good factories.

Yeah, and then ultimately though, I mean, we're just doing introduction like for electronic parts. Once you kind of verified and bed them, we did an introduction to the factories and, you know, they're doing their own verifications, but everything's looking good. So far, like they were underwater stuff. So we're underwater motor.

So, you know, they have waterproofing, but we're able to verify that they, they literally had a giant pool set up in the middle of factory to water test the waterproofing of electronics, which is kind of necessary. 

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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