Curb Supplier Costs By Buying American

ALBERTVILLE, AL—Made in America. It’s at once a call to action and slogan portrayed in Super Bowl advertisements and promoted by hawkers on home shopping TV channels. And, for good reason. American-made products can sometimes save money and, in some cases, create jobs here in the U.S.

For hoteliers and hospitality designers, turning to domestic resources can also potentially help them reduce shipping time compared to overseas suppliers, allow for seamless replacements, and eliminate the costs associated with dealing with missed deadlines and middlemen.

Some of the same sourcing challenges were faced by Dennis Connolly, director of operations for Mahogany Bay Resort & Beach Club, a Curio Collection by Hilton, on the island of Ambergris Caye in Belize. He explained the resort needed custom lampshades tailored to its handmade lamps on-property in time for the hotel’s grand opening. As a result of working with a U.S. vendor, Connolly noted he saw a significant savings.

“Obtaining anything in Belize, other than the most basic products, is challenging. Shipping, tracking and receiving products are another challenge. It is imperative that we find suppliers who can respond quickly and in whom one can trust to supply exactly what you need. Going back for a redo is not possible,” said Connolly. “Jack of All Shades met the challenges by providing a clear presentation of its capabilities and thorough information on its product offering on its website. They worked closely with us to package the shades in such a way to make the journey safely, while minimizing the cost of packaging such a large volume item.”

In business for more than 30 years, Jack of All Shades is a manufacturer of hardback lampshades based in Albertsville, AL. Owner Kirk J. Humphrey touted his company’s experience in the hotel industry.

“While there are lots of small operations around the U.S., only a handful of larger manufacturers still exist, as most have gone out of business when everything went over to China about 10-15 years ago,” said Humphrey. “Hotels can have from one to five lampshades per room, and they will typically replace them every five to seven years for wear and tear or damage.”

With the click of a button on the Jack of All Shades website, Connolly was able to source exactly the type and color of lampshades needed for his resort. “They were immensely helpful in guiding us to choose the best fabric to meet our particular needs. It’s an easy website to navigate, endless variety, and there’s expert guidance,” he said.

Jack of All Shades doesn’t stock inventory as it’s custom made to the client’s specifications. “The hotel designer is not constrained by what is in the catalog. Send us your specs and we’ll provide a quote based on quantity, size, material, fitter, etc.” said Humphrey. “The larger the order, the greater the discount.”

In terms of saving time, Jack of All Shades’ turnaround time for a new and custom lampshade is about four weeks. The company ships from its factory in Alabama. According to Humphrey, the company wins over designers with its custom sizes and colors; American-made products that support the American worker; expedient turnaround time; and solid customer service.

“It’s much cheaper than a crate coming from China, and communicating with the factory in China is almost always impossible. You’ll be speaking with a middleman that is going to take their cut of the transaction,” said Humphrey. “There’s no middleman here because you talk directly to the factory and there’s no high shipping costs because it’s coming from Alabama.”