Blog/News

US Manufacturing Come-Back

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

American companies are bringing manufacturing back to the US.

2017 has thus far proved complicated for retailers and US-based wholesalers and manufacturers. Retail shopping has hit a record low and the future of global trade is uncertain at best. President Trump is planning to enact a border adjustment tax as a financial slap on the wrist to companies who continue to outsource their manufacturing. US businesses, however, seem to be adjusting their practices ahead of the legal ramifications.

Businesses and local government officials across the country are watching the current administration closely. With so many proposed changes, several of which are quite drastic, Americans are concerned about if and how the changes will affect them personally and financially. In some cases, this means that companies are boycotting brands owned by the first family due to concerns of conflict of interest. In the case of manufacturing, however, US businesses seem to have no qualms about preemptively bringing their facilities back home.

Interestingly, the move to bring manufacturing jobs back to the US began before the election. In the last few years, businesses like GE and Ford have brought a significant portion of their production facilities back. It was a welcome reprieve for American manufacturing workers who have struggled since the turn of the millennium to find jobs.

Sources claim that companies were too focused on manufacturing costs in their efforts to offshore production in the 1990s and early 2000s. In fact, many report that domestic manufacturing is cheaper regardless of higher wages because businesses didn’t factor in freight costs, duties, and carrying costs of inventory. As it happens, these aspects usually make far more difference than manufacturing wages in total operational costs.

The movement to expand domestic manufacturing is not limited to central states, where American manufacturing was most active in the 20th century. The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and the Garment District Alliance have announced that they will collectively invest a $51.3 million package in the garment manufacturing industry in New York City. Mayor De Blasio has also made plans to expand manufacturing with a new complex, which is currently under construction in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.

The shift in priorities requires realistic and careful thought about how to reestablish a domestic manufacturing industry that provides quality jobs and affordable products. A lot of businesses are focusing their domestic manufacturing efforts on luxury goods and items that require specialized equipment. 3D print manufacturing is a perfect example of manufacturing that requires specialized skills and equipment, and thus could provide innovative products and specialized employment for domestic manufacturing workers.


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Selling on Open Terms

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

When it comes to trade, wholesalers often have a considerable number of potential issues to confront. They need to account for manufacturing and shipping costs, logistical concerns, control the quality of their products, maintain good relationships with their customers, and ensure that they receive payment for every invoice. When selling goods to retailers, one of the more complex negotiations surrounds how and when the customer will pay, or the agreed payment terms.

Depending on the vendor and the customer, they will come to one of a variety of agreements. Generally, when the customer has reasonably good credit and/or a solid relationship with the vendor, they will prefer to use open terms. Open terms on an invoice mean that the customer has a particular time frame in which to pay, beginning on the invoice date. Some common terms are Net 7 (meaning payment is due 7 days from the invoice date), Net 10, Net 30 and so on up to Net 90.

An account with open payment terms is ideal for the customer, since they don’t have to pay until after they receive the order. This means that they can place large inventory orders regardless of cash flow and pay when they receive the order as expected. For vendors, however, selling on open terms can be a double-edged sword.

On the favorable side, selling on open terms can offer a competitive edge to vendors who find themselves struggling to gain new business, since most customers prefer to have an open account with their vendors. In addition, when customers buy on open terms, they tend to place larger orders than they would under COD (cash on delivery) or similar terms. If customers don’t pay on time, they will accrue interest and/or late fees on the past-due invoices, which means more revenue for the vendor when they eventually receive payment.

Less favorably, sales on open terms can be risky when made to customers who aren’t as trustworthy. There is no guarantee that the vendor receive payment on time or even reasonably close to the due date. If too many customers are delinquent in their payments for too long, the effect on the vendor’s revenue can be devastating. This is why many vendors who sell on open terms choose to factor their invoices, to provide a layer of protection for themselves and their open invoices.

If you decide to sell on open terms and are concerned that your customers may not pay on time or at all, factoring is an excellent solution. Non-recourse factoring protects businesses if their customers declare bankruptcy or are otherwise rendered insolvent. In non-recourse factoring agreements, the factor absorbs the risk of all invoices they purchase from you.

Open payment terms can be tricky to negotiate at first, but are an excellent option, provided that the right systems are in place. Vendors must keep track of their cash flow, whether that means carefully timing orders to ensure that payments supplement any deficiencies or, as mentioned, factoring your receivables. Overall, open accounts create a system that allows vendors to expand their client base immensely and keeps customers happy by allowing them ample time to pay.


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ETC Attends Top Trade Shows

This week, the Top Billion Finance team will attend several trade shows across the country. Here’s where you can find us:

International Home and Housewares Show (Chicago) – Established in 1927, the International Home and Housewares Show hosts over 2,100 exhibitors from over 45 countries, as well as over 62,000 attendees from over 125 countries. The show displays a wide variety of home goods, including furniture, lighting, appliances, and accessories.

ASD MarketWeek (Las Vegas) – Marketweek hosts nine trade shows, making it the largest selection in the country. It is held at the Las Vegas Convention Center and hosts more than 45,000 buyers from over 88 countries. The show includes beauty products, apparel, housewares, outdoor equipment, smoking accessories, and much more.

Global Pet Expo (Orlando) – The Global Pet Expo is hosted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA) and the Pet Industry Distributors Association. The expo hosts over a thousand exhibitors and buyers from 76 countries.


If you plan to attend any of these shows, find our representatives for detailed information about our services!

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Made in NY: Brooklyn Campus Announced

Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

Last month, Mayor De Blasio announced that the city will open a new design campus and manufacturing space for apparel, film and television in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. The Council of Fashion Designers of America is also involved in the development. The new space will be the latest addition to the city of New York’s Made in NY campaign.

New York City has a long and vibrant history in the garment manufacturing industry. Local manufacturing in the Garment District began more than 200 years ago, and was a massive source of employment for European immigrants beginning in the late nineteenth century. Production in the district peaked in 1950, when New York City apparel manufacturers employed 323,669 New Yorkers. However, in recent years, garments made in New York City are much harder to come by.

The industry began to shrink when sales of ready-made garments took favor over custom pieces, beginning in the mid-20th century. This combined with outsourced manufacturing jobs and exorbitant rent hikes in the Garment District (rent in the neighborhood has reportedly risen 38 percent since 2013) have meant that a number of businesses have had to find alternate accommodations.

The new, 300,000-square-foot space (equipped to host 25-35 tenants from the fashion industry alone) will be at Bush Terminal. Construction will cost approximately $136 million, according to De Blasio’s announcement. In conjunction with the new complex, the city also plans to expand the nearby Brooklyn Army Terminal Building. The terminal’s additional 500,000 square feet will be available this September.

Elected representatives in Sunset Park have some doubts about the plan. Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, along with City Council member Carlos Menchaca and Congress people Nydia Velasquez and Jerrold Nadler have reached out to the mayor. They ask that he is conscientious of the effects gentrification may have on the Sunset Park area, expressing concerns that long-term residents will be displaced by rent hikes brought on by the project.

De Blasio was able to subdue concerns to a degree with the promise that the campus will eventually create 1,500 permanent jobs. Construction on the buildings will take a few years and, according to sources, will employ more than 800 construction workers.

Local designers and manufacturers are eager to take advantage of the massive new space, which will provide cheaper rent than the Garment District can currently offer as well as state of the art technology. The space is set to open in 2020.


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Top Billion Finance to Attend Natural Products Expo West!

Top Billion Finance is thrilled to announce that we will be attending the Natural Products Expo West in California this week!

The semiannual (bi-coastal) trade show features eco-friendly alternatives to standard products as well as home goods to help you reduce waste in your every day life.

The event will be held at the Anaheim Convention Center this weekend!.

 

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Factoring Checklist: What You Need and Why

David Estrakh and Sadie Keljikian, Top Billion Finance

You’ve done your research, vetted private lenders and banks, and found the funding arrangement you need. You’re ready to enter a factoring agreement. However, before you do, you should know that all factors will require some business and financial documentation before factoring your receivables. Here is a list of the materials you will need and why factors ask you for them.

  1. Factoring Application.

This is step one in your relationship with your factor. The application usually requires basic information, including the name of your business and officers, a description of the business, ownership structure and other general information that helps your factor get to know you professionally. Beyond surface details, the application will often ask you to provide the following: (a) your certificate of incorporation (or the equivalent), (b) federal ID number, (c) owner’s photo ID, or (d) other state or federal documentation. This is to verify your business’s details and protect the factor from fraud and wasting time on companies that are not a good fit.

  1. Customer List.

Although many factors include a section in their factoring application that allows you to write in your list of customers, this is sufficiently important to warrant its own section.  Since non-recourse factors rely on the quality of your receivables to provide advances against your invoices, it is of paramount concern that the debtors on those receivables (i.e. your customers) are credit worthy.  Although recourse factors are usually not as concerned as their non-recourse counterparts with the quality of customers comprising your receivables, all factors will want to have at least some idea of your customer base and their credit worthiness.

Non-recourse factors need to know because they are going to underwrite the credit of credit worthy customers and make a lending decision based on their credit determination.  Recourse factors need to know because they might adjust the amounts they are willing to fund based on your customer’s credit-worthiness and because they need to know how likely it is that the invoices will pay on their own to price their lending.  For example, if a recourse factor knows some accounts pay poorly, they know they will have to rely more heavily on their own client’s credit-worthiness to assure payment in the event of default.

  1. Corporate tax returns and financial statements.

Not all factors require a company’s tax returns and financial statements but it is a common request. As discussed, factoring companies and banks that provide receivables factoring are generally concerned first and foremost with the creditworthiness of the customers.  However, the client’s financial background is requested sometimes in order to verify sales volume and revenue. Also, recourse factors do want to see that your company is healthy enough to repay receivables advance if your customers default.  If your factor asks for corporate financial details, it is best to present a thorough audit performed by an independent third party accounting firm to provide maximum transparency.  Otherwise, at least make sure the information is clear and accurate or it may affect your lending arrangement and put you in default if the factor later discovers inaccuracies or impropriety.

  1. Current aging of accounts receivable.

This is an important part of the equation for several reasons. It provides your factor with a snapshot of your customer list, which is very important to your factor, since customers pay factors directly in most agreements. It also lets your factor know how timely your customers are with their payments and how much bad debt you carry as proportion of your receivables. Since factoring is lending against receivables, your customers’ credit is more important than yours, so it is vital that the customers whose invoices are being factored pay on time.  Since factoring prices depend on expected factoring volume, a good A/R should comport with your own assessment of expected annual sales.  If you ask your factor for a rate given to companies making $10 million or more in sales annually, then your receivables should be substantial enough to support that claim.

  1. Copies of any and all UCC filings on your Company.

This is crucial. Factors generally need to have first position liens on receivables and inventory since they are providing funding against these assets.  In order to secure their collateral, factors take a security interest in the assets classes they fund. A first position lien (or “security interest”) means that the factor has priority over anybody else to collect on or seize those assets. For example, if the factoring client declares bankruptcy, the factor is prioritized in benefitting from liquidation of the goods against which they have financed. For non-recourse factors, if the debtor on the receivables goes bankrupt, the lien allows the factor to claim payment of the receivable debt in bankruptcy court.  Thus, without a first position security interest, the factor has minimal security or protection in the event of default.

  1. Any current licensing agreements.

When you enter a factoring agreement, your factor relies on the value of the goods you sell. Consequently, should the value of your goods be damaged, your factor would be the one to suffer. If your goods are in violation of a copywrite or trademark, this directly impacts the value of your goods because you will not have a legal right to sell them. Even worse, the licensor may have a legal right to the goods or to legal damages.  Therefore, factors ask for any licensing agreements your company currently holds in order to confirm that you are not in violation of any licenses and thus, that your goods will retain their value.


Like anything, factoring requirements vary from one to the next, but the above should serve as a universal checklist for the most commonly requested pieces of documentation. When you sign on with your factor, do not be afraid to ask lots of questions, especially if you are being asked for any unusual or particularly sensitive information. A good factor will always be able to explain why they are requesting certain information or documentation and should be open to providing Non-Disclosure agreements under reasonable circumstances. If you’ve chosen your factor well, they will be very happy to educate and reassure you about the process.

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