Hi all, (sorry so long - stick with me though)
I'm here for advice. I'm going to try to bring a new product to market, it is a simple toy that my Father invented 20 years ago. He had a mold built in Taiwan and a production run of about 10K units. We did sell every toy, but they kept coming back to the states defective, and most needed to be repaired by hand. The project failed for lack of quality control, and my Father's inexperience in dealing with an overseas operation.
I'm doing things differently this time. I've paid an industrial designer / mechanical engineer a lot of money to take my updated design and draw it up in Solid Works - We finished last week and the production packet is in hand. There is one particular Injection Mold company in my city who has went above and beyond in terms of customer service, communication, advice, and encouragement. I've visited several manufacturers and they all have their "show off shelf" of parts they've cranked out. This place I just mentioned was the only one out of 5 that had TOYS, colorful TOYS, on their shelf. a couple products that inventors had actually succeeded in getting even into Toys R us. Of course there were a plethora of gears and gizmos, black and grey, that I had no idea of their purpose also on display. They are ISO 9001 certified by the way, if that means anything?
My toy has two parts, each requiring one side action. It will also require at least an A3 polish on most surfaces. The volume of each part about 22 grams. I will be using a clear Poly carbonate resin.
In addition to some ball-park quotes from other places before I had the CAD model, I've received a real quote from the previously mentioned manufacturer to build a 1+1 steel tool for just south of $22K. I'm considering a first run of 5000. Their in house toolmaker seems to be an experienced man with a lot of confidence and knowledge. They also have connections in China that can do the tooling, and they will guarantee the work, and run the production in their facility here in the US. I'm waiting for the quote on that option.
Now on to my questions:
I'm planning to have a Kick-Off meeting with them this coming week, and will deposit half the 22K with them. By the way I make 34K a year, (can you believe I'm an Airline Pilot?) Yeah it's true! And I've cashed out my IRA to get some start-up capital. Two little kids to feed too. So this is a HUGE amount of money for me, and a giant risk. But I believe very strongly in the product, especially because it sold so well even when it was a piece of junk.
Is there any advice you all can give me on things to ask about, look out for, draw attention to, etc. When I go into this meeting?
Is the price of tooling typically set, or is it acceptable and expected within the industry to negotiate? I don't want to make a fool of myself, yet I don't want to pay top dollar if it's been marked up expectant that I will negotiate down.
Is there a down side to having the tool built in China, EVEN THOUGH THEY WARRANTY IT here? Other than time I mean.
What are the benefits to having them do it all in house, right here, in my city? Granted it probably costs a lot more, but is that generally worth it in the long run?
Is there any technical issues I should know about that typically hang new guys like me up?
Are there any contractual issues - do's and don'ts that I should look out for?
Are there any tell - tell signs I can watch for that should have me running for the door?
Is there anything you can think of that I've not asked but should have?
Thank you all so much in advance, and hopefully someday I can repay you. If your advice ends up being a game changer for me, maybe I can ship a free product to you when they roll off the line. I mean it!
PS. moderator feel free to relocate if this is the wrong section.