Why ‘Made in the US’ works for Moonshine MFG

Transworld Business and Kailee Bradstreet sat down with Moonshine MFG for an installment of their Case Study series. This is a great read for anyone who wants to know what makes Moonshine stand out from the competition.

Check out the fully story HERE on Transworld Business or continue reading below.

CASE STUDY: WHY ‘MADE IN THE US’ WORKS FOR MOONSHINE MFG.

Many of the products we consume today as a society, whether within or outside of the industry, are made overseas. That’s no secret. But the question around manufacturing has been a recurring one for many as consumers start to become wise to best practices, and make purchasing decisions based solely on what type of company they are supporting and what that company stands for.

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Moonshine Mfg., based in North Bonneville, Washington, is touting that as one of its main areas of differentiation. The longboard skate brand was born on the factory floor, during the process of producing technical kiteboarding and wakeboarding products in a Washington-based and privately owned factory. The staff, a group of passionate skateboarders, believed it was possible to use the materials, machinery, and manufacturing process to build a revolutionary longboard skate deck.

“In 2010 we decided to start our own factory in Skamania County, Washington, in order to protect our intellectual property and innovative ideas,” explains Sales and Marketing Director for North & South America Greg Kish. “We were producing a technically advanced product using state of the art snowboard/ski manufacturing techniques. As we learned more, invested in additional machinery, and listened to our customers, it became clear that Made in the USA was working.”

On their own time, the group of skaters designed and developed a final working prototype, which was then given to some top riders for testing. The feedback was extremely positive, and in the spring of 2014, Moonshine Mfg got its start. Since then, the brand has been working to increase its investment in the design team and expand its overall production capacity at its factory to support this vision. Besides allowing them to have a hands on, immediate product testing approach, owning their own production facility also drives innovation and gives them the control to create more efficient and sustainable manufacturing practices, says Kish.

Although Moonshine is a new brand with a new technology, it has been able to draw on its parent company, which for the past 15 years has owned and operated global brands in other categories. This has ultimately helped the brand develop solid distribution in over 60 countries, and equipped them with the capital and leadership team necessary to grow.

“Start-up skateboard brands have reputations that typically run high on passion and low on capital,” says Kish. “Passion is very important, but most companies lack the cash and institutional knowledge needed in business to become economically viable.”

Kish and his team believe that this support, combined with its solid factory ownership and innovative board technology, have allowed them to begin carving out a new space in a high-end skate category and breath life into a seemingly flat marketplace. We caught up with Kish recently to talk about keeping manufacturing local and where he sees the market heading.

How and from where do you source your materials? What do you mean when you say you use only RAW materials? 

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One of our company goals is to make products that are sustainable and eco-friendly. Owning and operating our own factory gives us complete control over the entire manufacturing process. Our production line is set up in an efficient way that reduces the total amount of material needed to make a board. We get to choose from who and where we buy our materials. For example our wood is locally and sustainably grown in Eastern Oregon. Our resins system is low VOC water based organic urethane and our process enables us to eliminate toxic PVC top/bottom sheets. We recycle, and use eco-friendly inks for all of our graphics. Producing a product is never perfectly green and saying otherwise would be “greenwashing.” What we can say is that we are very conscious of our carbon contribution and we are constantly striving to have less impact.

What sets Moonshine apart from other longboard brands?

It is definitely product advancement in longboard skate technology that sets us apart. The first thing you notice is our decks follow the construction standard established in the ski/snowboard industry. We are using vertically laminated wood cores instead of stacked/pressed maple ply. Our decks also feature a full composite waterproof construction and our rails are inlayed with an impact resistant urethane rail for increased durability.

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All in, there are 9 technical features that differentiate our product in the market: Compression Molded Tri Axle Glass, Vertically Laminated Wood Core, Impact Resistant Urethane Rail, CNC Compression Molded Wheel Wells, Vibration Dampening Urethane Truck Mounts, CNC Level Truck Mounts, 100% Waterproof, Laser Cut Grip Tape, Sustainably Made in the USA.

Once a product becomes a ‘commodity’ and slides to the Big Box distribution channel, the conversation typically switches to price and the specialty retailer suffers.

We strive to create products (specifically for the specialty retailer) that have differentiation in the market and give loyal customers a reason to buy a new longboard.

What are your top initiatives for growing the brand moving into this year?

We know we’re going to grow — that is already happening. So what’s important is growing stronger. We see the top initiative for this year is to focus on building stronger relationships with our customers, dealers, and distributors.

We are focused on creating consumer demand for our products so there is awareness on the showroom floor and more of a pull from the market instead of a push from the retailer.

We also plan on adding riders to our team that are passionate about the sport, our products, and understand the overall vision of the brand. We are looking for people who want to contribute and be a part of what we are trying to accomplish.

Under your parent company, The Distillery, do you plan to create any other skate specific product categories, or focus on developing any other brands in the near future?

We have a culture of innovation. The Distillery is an incredible in-house resource that allows us to invent. We entered the skate industry because our people and our manufacturing processes in the Distillery lead us here. It’s not like we said, Hey let’s get into the longboard skate market, and then hired a team to figure it out. We entered the market with a totally counter intuitive approach. However, we feel this is a very strong approach because our product and culture automatically drive what the brand will look like in the future.

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