Entrepreneurs

This start-up is helping businesses get their products 'Made in the USA'

Matthew Burnett, CEO and co-founder of Maker's Row, is helping small businesses get their products made in the USA. His company connects over 100,000 brands with more than 10,000 American manufacturers.

Prior to Maker's Row, businesses looking to produce overseas had a wealth of online resources, but were short on luck if they were trying to produce in the United States, Burnett told CNBC. His company simply evens that playing field.

Burnett argues that there are legitimate advantages to producing in the United States including the minimal time difference, lack of language barriers and ease of quality control.

"Often times, entrepreneurs, when they're producing products, they'll look at the cost of production overseas, but they don't compute how many you have to produce, what the turnaround times are, there's a variety of other variables that drive up that cost," he said.

Burnett used to design watches for major brands like Marc Jacobs and DKNY. He learned his craft from his grandfather, who was a watchmaker.

When he started making watches on his own, he said, he became frustrated with overseas producers. Burnett said that the factory he worked with had a 1,000-piece order minimum and took three to four months just to produce a sample.

"What we're seeing from the rise of fashion bloggers and music videos, these small businesses that are producing domestically are able to catch onto trends much faster," which puts pressure on companies to push out products faster, he said.

"You're seeing a lot of big brands now and small brands looking to produce domestically in order to have a faster turnaround time," Burnett said, adding that the order minimums are much lower in the U.S.

Matthew Burnett, CEO and co-founder of Maker's Row
Source: Matthew Burnett
Matthew Burnett, CEO and co-founder of Maker's Row

There also is the perception that the "made in the USA" label is synonymous with good craftsmanship.

Burnett said he was surprised by the number of Chinese businesses that contacted them, seeking American factories to produce goods that they intend to sell in China.

Despite the quality of work, businesses have their products made abroad in efforts to reduce labor costs. This trend has led to the decline of manufacturing jobs in the United States, something Burnett watched happen in his hometown of Detroit.

Burnett said he believes that making a high-quality product requires collaboration between manufacturer and designer, something he learned through his own experience.

"They taught me how to make a world-class product, as opposed to just sending a drawing overseas and praying the product comes back the way that I designed it," he said.

"Tickets to China are very expensive, and you're going to be spending tons of time overseas if you want to oversee the quality control of your product, which you always want to do," Burnett said.

"Made in America" also has a more romantic appeal for consumers, he said.

"This generation of consumer wants a product with a story and not just a product with a commercial, but a product with a story with someone that they can relate to and that's oftentimes coming from the small business community," Burnett said.