PART 1: Atlanta company says quality not part of decision on where to manufacture
(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first article in a two-part series focused on an Atlanta-based company that helps manufacturers across the country produce high-quality, lower costs goods in places like China, India and Viet Nam.)
By Tom Ballard, Chief Alliance Officer, PYA
“Quality to me has no part in the decision on where to produce a product,” Scott Ellyson, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of East West Manufacturing, says.
That might seem like a shocking statement, but it’s a given for the Wisconsin native. He views high-quality as a core value of the company and a requirement for everything it produces.
“We need the building, equipment, and people,” Ellyson says. “We bring the processes.”
That philosophy comes from an Atlanta-based executive whose company is responsible for manufacturing more than 5,000 products for others at 250 factories in China as well as a growing number of facilities in India and Viet Nam. East West counts several Fortune 100 companies among its customers.
For Ellyson, the decision on whether to produce products off-shore is fairly simple. He says the ideal candidate is a company with a product that is in the mature stage of its lifecycle. As a result, it is easier to estimate approximate annual usage and have volumes high enough to order in container load quantities.
East West was founded in 2001 by Ellyson and Jeff Sweeney, colleagues at DiversiTech when they decided to start their own company as a joint venture with their former employer. The initial arrangement was a win-win for both parties.
“It (the JV) gave us capital as well as some of DiversiTech’s business and credibility,” Ellyson says, adding that it also allowed DiversiTech to continue to draw on the expertise of the two engineers.
Today, East West is a global manufacturer of components, sub-assemblies, and finished goods for Original Equipment Manufacturers and a variety of distributors. Its core areas of manufacturing expertise are in metals, plastics, rubber, and electronics.
Ellyson is a University of Florida engineering graduate who says that “every career has built on itself.” After a few years with a medical device company that was ultimately acquired by Boston Scientific, he worked as a Global Supply Chain Consultant for PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
“I was doing the analysis, helping roll out strategy, and working with big players,” Ellyson explained. “I learned the advantages and disadvantages of regions of the world.”
With most of his time spent on airplanes, Ellyson says he realized there was a “correlation between the millions of frequent flyer miles people accumulated and the number of wives they had.”
That was not the life he wanted, so he left PwC at a young age – 26 years old – and flew to Hong Kong where he started a company with his brother. It was named International Technical Services and provided components to the automotive industry.
“I knew I could make a quality product anywhere in the world using the right process and quality control,” Ellyson says. His roles with the company he co-founded with his brother involved finding customers, drawing-up plans for their products, finding the right manufacturers to produce the product, ensuring the processes were in place, and handling logistics.
“I was really using all I had learned,” he says.
Yet, Ellyson decided this was not what he wanted to do long-term, so he sold his shares back to his brother, returned to the U.S., and joined DiversiTech.
NEXT: The evolution of East West.