As I discussed in Installment one, many of our brands are an agency. In those situations we have little to do with development with the product.
For Installment 2 of this series I want to discuss a kind of partial agency situation. For these brands, products come about in a “collective” kind of way. Sometimes it’s factory engineers, sometimes it’s other factory management, sometimes it”s the agents (like us) who suggest new products to be created.
In most cases, the factory then shares the product idea with all of the agents and we proritize the ideas. A factory has to make products good for either as many markets as possible, or when there’s a product that is just for 1 or 2 markets, then these must be “fairly” divied up.
For example, Model Tech is working on a model that might sell a little bit in the USA, probably very very small numbers for the UK and Australia, but in Germany, the Model Tech agent (Their name is Krick) believes they will sell many and it will help Model Tech sales for them. Model Tech is fitting in this project amongst the 30 or so others they are working on currently. It’s a fair system that keeps the factory busy and the agents healthy.
In some ways, this relationship is the most fun for Product Managers like me. Now I know this is a business and this is about pleasing you, not personally entertaining me. But when you do something you love, it’s not a job any more. And in my opinion, I do a better job when I enjoy what I do. But ok, I digress…
Working with companies like Model Tech means I get to fly to Nuremberg, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai, and Beijing (these are the major international tradeshows except for Shenzhen which is where the factory is located). I’ve been traveling overseas since 1998 and really even after all this time I still enjoy it. But that’s an article for another day.
The people at these factories are decent, hardworking, caring people who love their companies, care about their employees, and want most of all for their customers to enjoy their products. There is great pride in what they do.
It is rewarding to work with them.
We also meet with and work with some of their agents. As in my earlier example, the agents for Model Tech are all interesting individuals with tons of industry experience and lots of passion for the hobby. These guys are creative, love model airplanes and are simply decent people who are fun to work with.
Life’s too short to work with dishonest people or people who are simply not nice. I refuse to do it…
So, what is this leading to you ask? Well, these are the brands that have developed world wide marketing status, have a world wide perspective, and yet care so much that they are making sure we have products perfect for our market.
When we develop a product with them, we now have modelers from around the world checking the models, reviewing their performance, making sure that the quality is great.
I keep coming back to Model Tech because right now they have quadrupled their efforts to create new products and in 2008 we’re going to see the results. I’ve got highly detailed, beautiful samples now coming from these guys. 90 size warbirds with very scale lines and finish, sport planes with better hardware, better fit and finish than ever before, electrics up to 90 size, and even fiberglass fuselage scale aircraft.
All in all there are 7 models in-house being worked on by Global, and another 24 models in process at the factory or with other agents. And each agency has a speciality so the best of the best in the world are now working to develop these models. They will be the best Model Tech has ever made.
People have asked what the process is, it’s actually fairly simple.
1. Ideas are expressed, discussed, and developed.
2. Ideas that we all decide are “worthy” are then put in a list and prioritized.
3. Drawings for the most important projects are made, color schemes are picked, etc.
4. Drawings are then shared with all the agents. We review them, make corrections, etc.
5. Samples are built, photos are shared of the actual construction along the way. We make suggestions, etc.
6. Samples are sent to the designated or “lead” agent for that product. So, when they send us a product, we go through it in detail, make sure it builds properly, then make sure it flies properly, modify as necessary and so on. Once we think we’ve found every place we can make an improvement, we get a new sample and start step 6 all over again.
7. Once it is extensively test flown and everyone is happy, we make directions, labels, ads, and do all the support work required.
8 We then order and release it. It’s fairly simple in terms of explanation. In practice, it’s a long stream of critical thinking, challenging problem solving, and constant re-evaluation.
Anyway, it’s a BLAST to see these new products start as discussions/brain storming sessions and develop into products that make modelers happy world wide.
Again, if anyone has any questions, comments etc. I’d love to hear them! I hope you’re finding this at least mildly interesting!