McLane: At Axia, a Higher-Volume Strategy

Axia is rolling out a new console at this coming NAB Show. An interesting aspect of the announcement is that the Axia iQ is the first of several products the company will introduce that are made China.

I e-mailed with Axia President Mike Dosch to learn more about this business move.

Dosch told me the company (which is headquartered in Cleveland, along with its sisters Telos and Omnia) employs several factories doing various manufacturing activities in Southern China, in the Guandong province. “This is where I was living for most of 2008,” said Dosch, who spent that time researching possible factories.

“We outsource our manufacturing to select contract manufacturers, same as Apple and Avid/Digidesign. We do all of our design engineering and development in-house. Managing the manufacturing process is a combination of various factory staff and some of our own employees, several of whom are working in China.”

I wondered if the company is moving all Axia manufacturing there.

“No. All Axia products are made in Cleveland, Ohio, USA except for this new iQ console. We have no plan to move all manufacturing offshore.

“China manufacturing really only makes sense for products made in higher volume, such as we anticipate with iQ. We will be introducing two new Telos products at NAB, which are also to be manufactured in China. These too are expected to be produced in higher volume.”

Dosch said he rejected “countless” manufacturing plants while searching for those that provide the best quality and competence. “The factories we have selected are the cream of the crop when it comes to modern equipment and well-trained staff and tight controls over quality processes.”

This is an interesting move for Axia; and its willingness to make it is a reflection of how much more international the equipment marketplace has become.

At one time, a U.S. manufacturer of air consoles would have skirted the “Made in China” stamp, thanks to the historically provincial nature of the American air console market. But Axia, already an internationally savvy company, no doubt has its eye both on lowering costs and prices, as well as growing its presence in Asia. I'll be interested to see whether, and how, its competitors respond to the move.

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