There has been a lot of talk about “reshoring” in the wake of COVID-19.  Reshoring can take many forms.  It usually refers to a company moving manufacturing facilities or services back to the United States.  Other times, it means that a manufacturer will try to change its supply base and “move” it back to North America.

For some, the reshoring discussion often begins and ends with China.  One of my favorite blogs is the China Law Blog that is authored by Dan Harris and the lawyers at Harris Bricken.  They recently published a two part series on mitigating the supply chain risk when deciding whether to stay in or exit China, which was written by consultant David Alexander.

The point that David makes, which aligns with my experience, is that “[t]here is no substitute for in-person operations verification, negotiating costs, and preparation for production.”  In other words, if you have never visited your supplier in China (or frankly, anywhere), be careful.

More broadly, I encourage any manufacturer to take to heart the points made by Harris Bricken in a recent post about how to address supply chain problems that arise.  While it is fundamental that having the right contract in place is critical, the reality is that litigation with your suppliers is counterproductive in many ways and often can be avoided by proactive measures during the course of the relationship.

 

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Photo of Jeffrey White Jeffrey White

I am a partner at Robinson+Cole who handles corporate compliance and litigation matters for both domestic and international manufacturers and distributors that make and ship products around the world. My clients have ranged from publicly traded Fortune 500 companies to privately held and/or…

I am a partner at Robinson+Cole who handles corporate compliance and litigation matters for both domestic and international manufacturers and distributors that make and ship products around the world. My clients have ranged from publicly traded Fortune 500 companies to privately held and/or family owned manufacturers. For those looking for my detailed law firm bio, click here.

I am often asked why I have focused a large part of my law practice on counseling manufacturers and distributors. As with most things in life, the answer to that question is tied back to experiences I had well before I became a lawyer. My grandfather spent over 30 years working at a steel mill (Detroit Steel Company), including several years in its maintenance department. One of my grandfather’s prime job duties was to make sure that the equipment being used was safe. In his later years, he would apply those lessons learned in every project we did together as he passed on to me his great respect and pride for the manufacturing industry.

Because of these experiences, I not only feel comfortable advising executives in a boardroom, but also can easily transition to the factory floor. My experience has involved a range of industries, including aerospace and defense, chemicals, energy, pharmaceuticals and life sciences, nutritional and dietary supplements, and retail and consumer products. While I have extensive experience in litigation (including product liability and class actions), I am extremely proactive about trying to keep my clients out of the courtroom if at all possible. Specifically, I have counseled manufacturers and distributors on issues such as product labeling and warranties, product recalls, workplace safety/OSHA, anti-trust, and vendor relations, among other things. I always look for the business-friendly solution to a problem that may face a manufacturer or distributor and I hope this blog will help advance those efforts.