The Supply Chain of Lacrosse
Insights: How Lacrosse Brands Source Manufacturing
By David Evans, President, Savage X Lacrosse
Posted September 30, 2019
Where does that nice new lacrosse shaft come from? Where is it made? How many hands has it passed through before it landed in your hands? How do lacrosse companies get their products made? And what is the supply chain from brand to retail and how does that affect the price? The network of people and companies involved in getting a brand’s products from manufacturer to market is known as the “supply chain”. It includes sourcing manufacturers, getting goods make, overseeing quality control, managing the supply chain, getting products shipped and eventually into retail and to the end user.
Quick Read Summary...
Virtually all lacrosse brands out-source to Asian manufacturers. Depending on the size and leverage of the brand, this creates a supply chain that increases price and can put quality in jeopardy. In the full scope of the sporting goods industry, lacrosse is a minor sport to a manufacturer. Most Asian factories don't bother with it. It's expensive to tool up for lacrosse. The bulk of lacrosse products are made by only a few factories in Taiwan and China. At this writing there is only one factory in China that produces carbon composite shafts.
Savage X Lacrosse is a factory. We have made shafts and string for major lacrosse brands in the past. Because we are the source, we control all aspects of production and quality, and, the price. Our prices are true wholesale because we have no supply chain adding cost to the product.
Deeper Dive Reading...
The sporting goods market in the United States is a multi billion-dollar industry. In 2018 sporting goods stores sales amounted to more than 47 billion. Of that 47 billion, 96.8 million was spent on lacrosse; 40.4 million on sticks, 36.8 on protective gear and 20 million on string and other accessories*. The vast majority of sporting goods are manufactured in China or Taiwan then shipped to the US via ocean cargo.
The general rule is the shorter the supply chain, the higher the profit margin. Corporate giants like New Balance and Nike have massive buying power and can easily manage the difficulties in sourcing products, but smaller independent companies are met with significant challenges, and are forced to deal with long supply chains, lower profit margins, huge minimum orders, large cash outlays, inconsistent quality and unpredictable delivery. Language and cultural barriers are also difficult to manage. An independent lacrosse brand in the US could be dealing with a North American broker, who is dealing with an overseas broker who sources to the cheapest factory. That factory frequently will subcontract to other factories and eventually the goods arrive back in the US, to be distributed to retail. In some cases there are even more levels, as sometimes a company claiming to be a manufacturer is really a third party broker, deceptively sourcing out to manufacturers. There are many versions. The longer the supply chain, the less visible are the furthest points and the harder they are to manage.
Like any industry a lacrosse manufacturer must be tooled for lacrosse equipment and skilled in materials and processes. The various machinery needed for manufacturing lacrosse equipment can run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. At a .025% share of the total US sporting goods market, lacrosse is not an investment most manufactures are willing to make. Soccer, baseball, football and other more popular sports are far more remunerative. As a result there are far fewer lacrosse factories than there are for other sporting goods. As of this writing there is only one factory in China that makes carbon composite shafts.
Chinese companies have been widely known to substitute inferior materials to increase their profit margin. Cheap resins in carbon composites, inferior core material in woven string products, metal alloys that are not as advertised. Even though a corporate owned lacrosse brand can manage the supply chain, they may not be getting the quality expected.
At Savage X Lacrosse we ARE the source. All our products are designed by us and made in our family owned factory, then sold directly to you. As an independent lacrosse brand, we are competing with major established brands. But because we have no supply chain (other than ourselves), we are able to offer our products at true wholesale prices. This is the first time in lacrosse history that the consumer can buy lacrosse equipment direct from the factory. We’re here for the player, the parents, the coaches, the game. The best equipment in the game at an unbeatable value.