In a reversal of the same old story, is the story of Trident Case. With the growing market of cases needed to protect mobile devices, Trident Case founded by Lip Yow in China, moved some of his manufacturing to San Bernardino, Calif.
Part of the reason for the move, which began in 2010 with 2,000 square feet, was to be able to keep a close eye on raw material. “There tends to be variability in raw material sourcing and that puts risk into the manufacturing process,” says Yow.
Sourcing from the U.S can address that issue as well as allow the company to live up to its “100% Proudly Made in the USA label.” The raw material supplies must be 100% made in the U.S. for Trident to apply this label.
The company’s growth both in terms of products offered and growth in physical space is in alignment with the goal of moving more manufacturing to the U.S.
“We are on track to have 35-50% of our manufacturing done in the U.S,” said Yow. The ultimate goal is 50-75% based in the U.S.
In April of 2013 the company announced it was adding 42,200 square feet facility in Rancho Cucamonga. While this plant is currently at 60% capacity, it will be at 75% capacity by the summer of 2014.
The company added a 70,000-square-foot corporate office in Ontario, Calif. in March 2012.
Growth has come via an expanded product line to meet demand. The company launched its first two series of protective cases, Kraken and Cyclops, in October 2010 and now manufactures six different product series, with more than 550 SKU's. The cases support a broad range of devices, including Apple iPads and iPhones, Samsung Galaxy, LG Optimus, Motorola Droid and Alcatel One Touch devices.
Another factor enabling growth for the company is the county in which it is located. Factors including a strong transportation infrastructure with UPS operating a major hub in the area, combined with the available workforce were key. “There is a strong pipeline for talent that will help us grow and there are a lot of training opportunities available through local and regional sources,” says Yow.
That pipeline of talent adds up to 1 million available skilled workers, according to Kelly Reenders, economic development administrator for the County of San Bernardino.
San Bernardino County is the largest county by geography in the United States.
“We introduced Trident to a program that provides both talent and an on-the-job training program which includes wage reimbursement.” For a small company, this is a huge advantage as the program will reimburse half of an employee’s salary for six months in addition to the training.
Training is especially important as Trident plans to expand its product line to include “smart” cases. And the county is prepared. The business and the education communities have joined forces to create the Alliance for Education. This partnership, which fosters STEM learning both in and out of the classroom, starts in kindergarten and goes through college. The end game for this group is to prepare the workforce for the type of work that the local businesses need.
“Another advantage that we are able to offer to small companies is the program run by the California Manufacturing Technology (CMTC),” says Reenders. CMTC is a non-profit organization that provides expertise in how to manufacture efficiently. “CMTC representatives visited the facility, evaluated operations, and provided recommendations at no cost to Trident Case on how to streamline operations,” explains Reenders.
Creating more efficient manufacturing operations is part of an overall strategy to bring more companies, like Trident Case, to San Bernardino. “This is an exciting trend for us,” Reenders said. “We’re focused on doing our part in programs, training and more to help these manufacturers to realize the very real benefits to bringing more of their operations back to the State.”