Rane manufactures in the USA from domestic and imported parts because it is the best way for us to produce the musical instruments and professional sound tools our customers demand, respect, and deserve. It simply makes sense. Rane is proud to define, design, manufacture, and support all of our products from our single facility in Mukilteo, Washington USA from U.S. and imported parts. Doing so allows us to have a deep understanding of our product, our customer needs, and gives us a superior ability to support our products and react to customer wants and needs.
Rane has a long history with in-house manufacturing. Today there is a toxic mindset of cheap and cheaper; making the lure of off-shore manufacturing attractive to many. It may be satisfactory for commodity and throw away goods, but few professional musicians or sound engineers ever aspired to work with the cheapest tool or instrument. It is a fact that when a company abandons their own captive manufacturing operation they lose the insight necessary to truly support their product, react to customer needs or problems, and innovate. Because of the intimacy with all the processes, Rane is a better company and produces a better and more fully-supported product.
When manufacturing is left to others, how does the insight of the assembler, the craftsperson who puts the instrument or tool together, who sees hundreds a day or a month, get his/her ideas conveyed and contribute to the improvement of the current product or the future product? The skilled electronics assembler knows when a control feels “right,” when a component is showing abnormal failure, and knows this long before, way, way before the ISO9000/SPC/X-bar/run chart/6 sigma/you-name-it system detects a problem. At Rane the design engineers know, see, and talk to the assemblers every day, as does the sales staff and the C.E.O. The manufacturing floor is where the action is. It is where the magic happens. It is where the value is added to an otherwise pile of components and circuit diagrams.
Think of the guitar. Is the guitar wonderful because some designer drew a picture and then talked about its wonderful sound? Or is the guitar wonderful because of the craftsmanship of the assembler, builder, and test-technician? At Rane the design engineers talk daily to component manufacturers, sales and marketing personnel, and customers. Successful collaborative efforts make for good products; close daily collaboration is necessary for truly great products. For a company to produce innovative and high quality products it must have its own dedicated manufacturing operation and that operation must be intimately associated with the other functional areas of the company through daily communication and physical location. Without its own manufacturing, a company becomes hollow. Without an intimate relationship with manufacturing, the design engineers lose sight of processes, limits, and capabilities. They become creators of circuit diagrams with no ability to understand the product execution. Those design engineers may be creative and smart, but they soon become specifiers of function, ‘how many inputs, how many outputs, how many controls’, and not stewards of design and masters of innovation.
Finally, without its own dedicated manufacturing the company becomes an importer or distributor, and unable to fully support their customer. ‘Want a new knob?’ ‘Sorry, that Chinese manufacturer 3,000 miles away doesn’t have it anymore.’
Because of rules, regulations and taxes, USA manufacturing becomes more difficult daily. Rane worries about its compressor tanks being properly inspected by the certified inspector, the city inspection of the backflow water valve, the monthly inspection of our federally mandated elevator, the OSHA required paint markings on the loading docks, proper signage on the electrical panels… and on it goes. Exporting products out of a US facility has become just as complex. Tariffs are but one obstacle American manufactures face exporting to other countries. Tariffs along with value added taxes (VAT) do just what they are supposed to… make USA products less price competitive. However, tariffs are a simple money calculation; except for putting US manufactures at a huge disadvantage they are easily understood. At the moment more pernicious are the ever-increasing and ever-changing “compliance” rules.
As an example: compliance with the European Reduction of Hazardous Substances (ROHS) a few years ago cost Rane an entire product cycle. Products were not designed or brought to market because we struggled to understand the rules and how they applied to us. After a year of work and a heavy investment in new manufacturing equipment, we are in full compliance. But now the rules are changing again. On the design side the problem is the same. Changes in electronic emissions rules, radiated and susceptibility, continue to force complete product re-designs, then re-examination, and testing. We have eliminated products from our catalog because of the economic choice of retesting versus future sales and engineering investment. Probably the most threatening thing about the new “rules” is that they change every year; becoming more and more difficult to understand applicability and determine how to comply. These constantly changing rules are trade barriers.
Today Rane sees the business world going through a time of profound and massive change that goes far deeper than falling stock markets and drops in consumer spending. The corporate mindset of cheaper products – based on a ruthless quest for lower costs, no matter the social, environmental, or economic damage – are being questioned and a total cost concept is coming into focus. Rane is prepared for such a change and welcomes it.
This is an expanded version of what appeared in the Music & Sound Retailer September 15, 2009 issue. These questions were asked in a new interview in 2012:
During these tumultuous economic times, many companies are trying to rein in costs and stretch their dollars further than ever. Manufacturing in the USA certainly has considerable associated costs. Why is manufacturing domestically a good investment for your company?
Rane secures long term viability by manufacturing in the USA. The intimate association of the critical business functions of design, manufacture, sales, logistics and customer support best serves our customer. There is no disconnect between the designers and builders, between manufacturing and sales order processing and shipping, between purchasing and service center support. For any question, the answer is only a short walk. Exceptional customer service requires close physical association of all functions.
Design engineers remote to manufacturing lose knowledge of process controls, test routines, component sourcing, and opportunities for design improvement that directly affects a company’s ability to support a product. For the quality audio products our customer’s demand, only manufacturing in the USA enables Rane to provide the product and exceptional support they require, and allows us to develop a skill set necessary for the next generation of products, and indeed represents an investment in a sustainable future.
The market place has become extremely global, with products from China, South Korea, and India, for example, sitting alongside those from the United States. Both in the minds of consumers and in actuality, is there a distinct quality difference when products are manufactured in the USA?
First you must distinguish between quality and total quality. Failing to consider a product’s total quality makes it difficult to determine a quality difference based solely on the country of origin. Retail and installation buyers are very aware of total quality. For example, when placing an order is there immediate acknowledgement? Are you given accurate shipping dates? Are questions answered directly and unambiguously? Are problems dealt with immediately? Can a shipment be expedited? These things establish the total quality of a product. And this extends to the end-user: Does the product have a readable and useful manual? Can the factory be easily contacted for help? Are repairs done quickly? Does the manufacturer even offer repairs?
All these things determined the real quality of a product. Manufacturing in the USA does not guarantee quality, but domestic design, sale, and support greatly increases the chances of a quality product experience.
All Rane equipment is made in Mukilteo, Washington, U.S.A. from U.S. and globally imported parts.