Great post from Renaud entitled “The different kinds of sourcing agents“. Although PassageMaker is really a contract assembly company, we end up doing a lot of sourcing as well. We are a “Type 2″ China sourcing agent according to Renaud’s categories.
I agree with Renaud’s advice in general, though I am a bit more negative of the Type 1, the trading company. Too often we see trading companies that are really glorified Type 3’s. They are making money on both sides of the deal and vanish in a flash the minute the going gets rough.
Avoid Type 3’s like the plague. Mike Bellamy tells a great story of going to a trade show years ago and playing the big dumb American (something he does surprisingly well). He stood in the lobby of the trade show and held a complex automotive casting over his head (Mike is 6′ 4”, so he towers over a crowd of Chinese people) and shouted, “who can help me source this part?”. Suffice it to say he was mobbed.
He took the time after the show to go through all the business cards he was given (50+) and perform due diligence on all of them. Two (2) were manufacturers of automotive castings. Three (3) were taxi cab drivers who claimed to be manufacturers. Thus I have referred to Type 3’s as “Cab Drivers” ever since.
Obviously I think Type 2’s are the way to go. PassageMaker used to be a trading company and we developed our model because we saw there had to be a better way.
If you really, really insist that you want a Type 1, there is only one I’ve ever encountered that I would recommend to anyone, Silk Road International. David Dayton knows his stuff and writes a great blog to boot.
But you really, really, REALLY need to work with PassageMaker!