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How do I find manufacturers in China? BANK ON DAVE replies

I want to import goods from China - how do I find manufacturers?  Dave Fishwick responds

I want to start a business that most likely requires the products, which will be plastic, to be made in China or somewhere else in the Far East.

How do I find and verify manufacturers?

Dave Fishwick, This Is Money’s business physician responds: When dealing with a company in a foreign country, start by being very careful and doing as much research as possible.

Learn about their culture and even try to learn a bit of their language if possible. This will benefit you immensely and make a huge difference when closing deals!

I want to import goods from China - how do I find manufacturers?  Dave Fishwick responds

I want to import goods from China – how do I find manufacturers? Dave Fishwick responds

As you may know, one of my many companies sells buses, and I have many customers who come from Spain to buy my mini buses for their hotels and resorts.

I also import coach seats to build my coaches from Spain and Italy.

One day a Spanish couple came by who owned a chain of hotels and wanted to buy me a selection of buses and mini-coaches.

They spoke perfect English until we got to the price; at that time they negotiated between themselves a price in spanish and then offered me a price in english.

This has happened several times in the past with foreign clients.

I thought it would be extremely beneficial if I could understand their language so I could know exactly what they thought of my pricing and their true thoughts on the product and cost.

I decided to take action and took Spanish lessons twice a week for over two years. Now I can speak, read and write in Spanish which has been a huge plus.

To find suppliers in China and elsewhere, you can go online to a platform like Alibaba, which can put you in touch with thousands of suppliers. Some of them will be willing to provide relatively low minimum order quantities.

Still, I wouldn’t recommend it for complex or bespoke products or if you buy in larger quantities and on a regular basis.

I recommend that you go and see potential suppliers yourself at trade shows and perhaps also visit the factory you intend to buy from.

If this doesn’t sound like something you want or have the time to do, you can hire a quality control and inspection company to liaise with the supplier and inspect the products before shipping. .

They sometimes have English-speaking staff – often British expats – who can overcome distance and language barriers on your behalf.

However, English is spoken in major cities in China and certainly by sales representatives at trade shows.

But, as I mentioned earlier, a little understanding of the language and culture of the country you intend to send large sums of money to could be a huge advantage.

Don’t go for the cheapest quote to supply the product if you are unsure of the supplier’s ability to deliver the quality you expect. You may find that the most affordable quotes come from smaller companies.

However, I have personally found that it is best to have a steady supply of high quality products from large, well-established suppliers who have built a good reputation for supplying similar products.

I mainly focused on China here because it is by far the largest supplier of manufactured goods.

The next largest manufacturer of plastic products is Germany, followed by the United States. You will find it much easier to source manufactured goods in China than elsewhere in Asia.

China is currently experiencing domestic problems and the sourcing of products from this country is becoming more and more controversial for various reasons. But, at present, it is still the manufacturing country par excellence.

Some big companies are starting to focus on other countries to manufacture their products, but it won’t happen overnight, and big companies have plenty of resources to do so. The rest of us would be better off waiting for other nations to become more established suppliers.

It is not just the cost of the product that you also need to consider. The cost of shipping from small manufacturing countries will likely be higher, which will increase the unit cost of the products.

An alternative you should explore is to have the products made here in the UK.

There are many companies that can produce plastic products here, and you may find that the cost difference is not as big as you think, once you consider the shipping cost.

The advantages of making them here, depending specifically on what you’re looking to source, would be quick prototyping and manufacturing time.

You could also have smaller product runs and of course you would have the added product value of being able to market your products as made in Britain.

Find a good competitor selling similar products and take a journalistic approach to their business. Talk to past vendors, suppliers, distributors and customers. You will quickly learn what is essential.

Treat new business as an investigative process and you’ll be fine.

Good luck! (Buena Suerte!)

Ask Dave Fishwick a question about business or career advice

Millionaire and self-made entrepreneur Dave Fishwick is our newest columnist answering your business and career questions.

Dave has a hugely successful minibus and vehicle business based in Lancashire and rose to fame with his BAFTA-winning TV series, Bank of Dave, which saw him battle the big banks.

He’s ready to answer your questions, whether you own a business, are thinking of starting one, or have general career questions.

In his spare time, he enjoys giving talks to inspire people to do their best.

A Netflix movie about Bank of Dave is now on Netflix and he’s been a friend of This is Money for a decade. He now wishes to impart some of his wisdom and advice to our readers.

If you would like to ask Dave a question, please email him at

Dave will do his best to respond to your post in his column, but he won’t be able to reply to everyone or correspond privately with readers. Nothing in his answers constitutes regulated financial advice. Published questions are sometimes edited for brevity or other reasons.

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on it, we may earn a small commission. This helps us fund This Is Money and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any business relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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