HV Mfg Preview: Small Manufacturers Specialize and Customize


The following is excerpted from the upcoming issue of the Council’s HV Mfg Magazine, available this April.

At first look, many manufacturing sectors appear to be dominated by relatively few very large firms. The prospect of a smaller manufacturer competing in these markets and succeeding seems daunting. It can be done.

Even though the weather has not been cooperating this ski season, the ski industry gives us the opportunity to demonstrate two approaches that allow smaller firms to compete in an industry dominated by large players: Specialization and Customization.

Worldwide, the market for downhill skis is about 4 million pairs annually. The market is dominated by four large firms, three with sales near 800,000 pairs per year and the fourth at about half a million pairs per year. There are also a few slightly smaller firms in the 200,000 to 400,000 range. Three out of the four big firms manufacture in the Alps, one has its output produced in China. None of these larger firms is producing in the United States.