Is Hot Tub Manufacturing Moving to China and Mexico?

chinese hot tubsThe short answer is, “not likely”. Hot tub manufacturing has predominately been done domestically.  In fact, of the 80 or more hot tub manufacturers currently in business today, over 90% of them manufacturer their hot tubs in the United States or Canada.  However, in the last 10 years there have been some Chinese manufacturers that have entered the United States market but without a great deal of success because the quality control and customer service has not been up to par.  Their inexperience has led to product recalls and failures in the field creating a negative sentiment towards Chinese hot tubs.  In fact, customer service and warranty services are such a large part of hot tub ownership that they cannot be overlooked and hot tubs manufactured overseas pose heavy risks.  Many hot tub dealers who have been enticed by the attractive prices of imported hot tubs have tried their hand and been frustrated by the amount of problems they’ve had.  Most have come back with open arms to domestic manufacturers recognizing that the quality is better not to mention better communication and customer service as the time difference and language barriers can create a lot of despair and frustration when dealing with overseas suppliers.

On the other hand, parts manufacturing has been much more successful overseas. Many of the hot tub’s components come from overseas manufacturers today.  These components include motors, jets, plumbing, electronics, etc.  These parts are put in many domestically produced hot tubs. Furthermore, if and when there are issues with quality then the hot tub manufacturer is able to remedy them quickly in the field by stocking large volumes of parts or having domestic suppliers fill in.  This in turn means very little headache and paint felt by dealers and retailers who sell these products to the general public.

There is one hot tub manufacturer in general that seems to have found the secret sauce to overseas hot tub manufacturing.  Passion Spas of Holland, MI has found a business model where they manufacture hot tubs in China thereby getting the substantial costs savings (mostly labor) and distribute product throughout the United States and Europe from a facility in Michigan that does additional quality checks, stocks parts, and does all of the customer service.  The advantage here is that the smaller mom and pop retailers and dealers have well equipped and attractively priced products on their showroom floors but with similar backend support of a traditional manufacturer (handled by the Passion Spas headquarters and distribution facility in Michigan).

With that samexican hot tubsid, there are a handful of dominant American brands that have successfully moved manufacturing off of United States soil.  Jacuzzi Brands (Jacuzzi Hot Tubs, Sundance Spas, Dimension One Spas, ThermoSpas) and Watkins Wellness (Caldera Spas, Hot Springs Spas) moved much of their manufacturing to Mexico in the last 5-8 years.  Prior to moving to Mexico, both Jacuzzi and Watkins did most of the hot tub manufacturing in Southern California so the move to Mexico wasn’t as challenging as going overseas.  They both built manufacturing plants just across the border near Tijuana which offered less regulations and cheaper labor.  Manufacturing in Tijuana also gave them quick and convenient access to US borders and trucking routes.  Whether or not more manufacturers will follow suit is up in the air.  With the recent trade wars between the United States and Mexico and the United States and China it will be less likely that manufacturers will move off of US soil.

 

 

 

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