Made in USA: Last American Sleeping Bag Factory, Exxel Outdoors, Competes With China
With the Bloomberg News report last Friday of the Chinese yuan rising to the highest level since the end of a 2005 US dollar link, the last major factory producing made-in-America sleeping bags - Exxel Outdoors - strengthens its edge over its manufacturing rivals in China.
“We are resisting the trend of American enterprises expanding their manufacturing in China,” said Harry Kazazian, Exxel Outdoors founder and CEO.
Based in Los Angeles with its factory in Haleyville, Alabama, Exxel Outdoors has created a unique position for itself in competing with China.
“China is now experiencing the consequences of its rapid growth - salaries spiraling up, record inflation, and government export subsidies being phased out,” explained Kazazian. “Add to this rising international freight costs, and you can see how Exxel’s long-term commitment to stay domestic is paying off for us.”
“The key is efficiency,” commented Exxel Outdoors President Armen Kouleyan. “We have developed an exclusive manufacturing process that keeps our direct cost of producing a sleeping bag here lower than the cost of bringing one in from China.”
Exxel’s American-made brand holds an estimated 30% of the U.S. market share of all sleeping bags, supplying almost one and a half million units per year. There are a few other companies that produce sleeping bags in the U.S., but at high-end retail prices, and with sales numbers so small that they are insignificant compared to Exxel.
Exxel’s Haleyville factory supplies Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart-Sears, Big 5 Sporting Goods, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Academy Sports + Outdoors and many others, as well as on numerous e-commerce sites.
Retailers are increasing their orders for Exxel’s U.S.-made products. Exxel has the capability to fill the basic (rectangular) sleeping bag demand for the entire U.S. -- approximately four million per year.
In 2000, Kazazian and Kouleyan purchased the 250,000 square foot facility in Haleyville from the Brunswick Corporation, who was planning to permanently shut it down. Exxel transformed the factory into a state-of-the-art manufacturing plant. They hired back most of the original workers, providing fair wages and affordable healthcare to all employees and their families.
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