As a contract equipment manufacturing company, I always ask an incoming prospect, how did you find us? I usually get a range of answers because frankly, most people do not really know where to look to find a good OEM Contract Manufacturing company.
When asked “Why do OEMs struggle to find the right contract manufacturers?” Dennis Inesogna, VP Media Sales at The Job Shop Company states, “Lead times, quality, process selection, complexity of project and geography all lead to the challenges an OEM faces when finding quality contract manufacturing suppliers.”
If you asked me 5 years ago, I would tell you the number one way that companies are connecting with a contract equipment manufacturing company is referrals. By and large, the manufacturing industry is small enough that word gets out about good suppliers and people move from job to job pollinating their new companies with new vendor options. But today, we’re seeing inquiries from Organic Search as the number one method of connecting OEMs and CMs. As a marketer myself, I’ll put on my buyer’s shoes and list the channels I’d take if I were doing a comprehensive search to find an contract equipment manufacturing company.
Contract equipment manufacturing – and industrial manufacturing in general – have a reputation for being dinosaurs when it comes to their online presence. Just look around, their websites are outdated in most cases, with thin content and poor Search Engine Optimization. Regardless, chances are you’re going to be searching for a manufacturing company via Google or Bing search. This is a good start because typically a lot of manufacturing companies will show up and lots of directories and industry publications will probably appear. This might cause you to change your query a bit, maybe adding things like the specific industry or capabilities you’re looking for. The good news is that manufacturers are recognizing their shortcomings in search marketing and over time you will find more and more of what you’re looking for.
The next most popular place we’re seeing activity is from industry associations. For example, if you’re a startup, you might be involved with an incubator or accelerator. The Boston area has great programs like FORGE and TechStars. These associations are full of resources that are very well equipped to match OEMs and manufacturers. They often have small networking events, seminars and other sessions to connect interested parties.
Industry Contacts (aka Referrals)
Going through the old rolodex is still a viable option for most people. Most of your network will be willing to share their experience with a contract equipment manufacturing company they’ve used in the past. It’s a niche industry with only a few dozen viable vendors, so chances are you will find someone with some good insight. Look at people with Sourcing or Manufacturing Operations titles. If you see a company that looks good, don’t be afraid to ask for a referral from one of their customers to dig a little deeper.
Most industry publications have gone at least partially digital, so there is a good chance they will appear during your organic search. At the very least, sign up for their online newsletters. I subscribe to IndustryWeek and Machine Design. Over time, you’ll speak the language a little more clearly and get familiar with some of the names in the industry and their capabilities. Of course, it’s important to remember that most of these are paid listings.
There’s plenty of noise about what the future of trade shows will be. But if the timing is right, it makes a lot of sense to go to some trade shows. Touch, feel product and meet the people is still a great way to build contacts and learn about a company you might be interested in. As an added bonus, nearly every trade show host will list its exhibitors, so you can do some research ahead of time. The downside is that a trade show is typically 2-5 days, so you’re inevitably confined to a small window of opportunity. IMTS and InformaMarkets are huge popular trade show settings that are notable for their equipment manufacturing highlights. Design-2-Part is best for smaller component manufacturing.
Most folks in this industry have an encyclopedia of suppliers known as the Thomas Register. Thomas has done an excellent job of taking their print register and going digitally. They are at the forefront of connecting manufacturers and suppliers. ThomasNet, as it’s known, has an extremely powerful digital presence and whenever I’m searching for equipment manufacturers, machinery manufacturing, automation or any other kind of contract manufacturing, Thomas will typically have a listing on the first page, which will connect the user to their directory. IQSDirectory (Internety Quick Search) also appears in search listings frequently and has an easily searchable platform with geography, categories, and industries.
Additionally, the D2P Buyer’s Guide is a great resource for component level and assembly level manufacturers, distributors and other value add endeavors. PEKO gets quite a bit of traffic from there. Some other notable directories are MFG.com, Zycon, GlobalSpec and GlobalData. I have minimal experience with these, so I don’t want to get in deep water. They are all power platforms that do an excellent job of listing popular manufacturers. These types of directories all offer free and paid listings, so you may be presented with options that are best for their business, rather than your own.
For now, the equipment manufacturing and contract manufacturing industries are still running on old models which aren’t exactly the best suited for connecting them when you need some machinery or hardware built. But I’m glad to say the industry is getting better and their content is getting more with the times. Manufacturing has a ton of very interesting content so as we bring that forward and show the world, engagement will be better and connecting manufacturers and suppliers will become much easier. Once you do find the suppliers you’re interested in, use our Guide to Choosing a Contract Equipment Manufacturing Company to help you decide on the best pick for your business.