One of my savviest clients called me a couple weeks ago. This guy is an opportunist. He makes things all around the world. He makes cheap things for which there is an immediate need. He has been doing this unbelievably successfully for around twenty years, all over the world, but lately almost exclusively in China and in Vietnam. He does both OEM manufacturing and manufacturing in his own factories, all depending on the best way to proceed at a particular time, in a particular place, and for a particular product. He studies the world from a manufacturer’s perspective and he is constantly crunching the various numbers that determine where to make little cheap things.
Over the years, I have spent hours talking to him about the information he analyzes in determining where to manufacture and the following pretty much covers it:
1. Political stability and risk
2. Labor costs/efficiency
3. Work ethic
5. Material costs
6. Utility costs
8. Shipping Costs
9. Where Nike manufactures
He was calling me to tell me he was considering Haiti and that I should look into lining up a good attorney there.
Here is his analysis, very very roughly, in his own words:
I cannot help but be impressed with the resilience and entrepreneurship of the Haitian people. And look at how well Haitians do when they come to the United States. That tells me that what has held them back has nothing to do with culture. I know Haiti has crime and corruption and even before the earthquake it had bad infrastructure, but look at how close it is to the US and think about its future. I see the US and other countries helping it recover both in terms of its government and its infrastructure. The US is going to put in place all kinds of incentives to encourage American companies to manufacture there. We are going to do this both for Haiti’s sake and our own. Let’s face it, our relations with China are bad right now. They are bad on both the political and the economic level and we should be doing whatever we can to reduce our dependence on them. And it is not as though things are getting any cheaper in China either. Wages and utility rates just keep rising. Haiti does have big problems and big risks and its recovery will likely be slow, but I seriously looking at it and you should line up a lawyer to help me when the time comes. If the US government is smart it will be looking at helping more US-friendly countries compete with China. I’m willing to be somewhat of the trailblazer in going into Haiti as I think it’s the right thing to do
And so I did. I contacted an international lawyer at my old law firm who I knew had done some work in Haiti and he recommended a Haitian lawyer to me but said he had no idea how that lawyer was doing. Then last week, the Martindale-Hubbell Blog did a post [link no longer exists] on how some of its lawyer customers were doing in Haiti and the recommended lawyer was in their post.
I secured my client’s approval to write this post and to the extent I can, I will keep you up to date if and when this project progresses.
So what do you think? Why not Haiti?