If you can't beat them, compete with them.
That's an interesting philosophy practiced by hose maker Titan Industries to survive in a high-volume, price-sensitive market, a strategy that should interest peer companies.
Rather than throw in the towel against cheaper imports or farm out production to China, India or another low-cost region, Titan developed a price-competitive line, made in America.
How do you do that when foreign producers enjoy a huge cost differential, especially in labor? Well, the name Titan chose for the value line of hose sums it up-Spartan.
Titan's reputation as a high-end producer of hose won't change, and the California-based company will continue to make such goods. But the Spartan line is a different product, including nitrile oilfield and petroleum tank truck hose, an EPDM water suction hose, and an SBR hose for material handling.
Titan reviewed and altered its compounds to reduce cost, typically adding more filler. The hose quality remains high-the company knows the value of its reputation-but it may not last as long or have as much flexibility as the typical Titan hose. Since these particular products often have a short lifespan, anyway, that's not a big problem.
A real advantage, besides a lower price, is that the hose is stocked by Titan. A distributor doesn't have to spend a steep amount to get a container-load from abroad, nor wait for it to arrive.
The Spartan line has been on the market for a couple of months, and so far so good for Titan. A fear that customers might just turn to the cheaper hose at the expense of Titan's standard products hasn't materialized. Instead, the line is attracting purchasers who otherwise would have gone for the foreign-made hose.
Who's to say if Titan's approach will work in the long run? It is certain, though, that this company refuses to just roll over and let imports seize a market. That in itself is a lesson for other smaller rubber processors-anything worth having is worth fighting for.