Identifying the Small Apparel Manufacturer: A Typology of Manufacturing Strategies

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Virginia Tech

The purpose of this study was to develop a typology of small apparel manufacturers (SAMs), firms classified between SIC 2310 to 2389 and less than 50 employees. The objectives were to (a) determine if distinct manufacturing strategies existed among SAMs, (b) develop a profile of these groups using environmental factors known to affect the apparel industry and small businesses (i.e., customer service, operations, barriers, assistance, customer size, customer location, competitor size, competitor location), (c) develop a profile of SAMs based on demographics (i.e., SIC, end-use for products, manufacturing process, type of firm, fashion position, employee size, manufacturing strategy, marketing strategy, annual gross revenue), and (d) determine the existence of a relationship between SAMs use of market strategies and manufacturing strategies. Data were collected from 146 SAMs, which represented 15 states with the highest number of SAMs. Factor analysis was used to identify manufacturing strategy factors (i.e., flexibility, environmental consciousness, product attributes, lot sizes), which were used to cluster respondents; and environmental factors (i.e., customer service, education/industry awareness, flexibility, timing, unit costs, production resources, technology/automation, consistency in sales, investment capital, import reductions). Four clusters of manufacturing strategies emerged and were profiled according to environmental factors and demographic variables (i.e., products, product classification, manufacturing processes, type of firm, type of fashion, manufacturing strategies, marketing strategies, firm's employee size, annual gross revenues). Significant differences occurred among the four manufacturing strategy groups and environmental factors. Significant differences occurred among the four manufacturing strategy groups and demographic variables. No relationship existed between manufacturing strategy groups and their marketing strategy.

factor analysis, typology, cluster analysis, manufacturer, manufacturing strategies, apparel manufacturer, small business