New Albany, Ohio, has become the central hub of a new industrial campus for Bath & Body Works that has allowed the company to become fully “Made in America.”
- Since 2008, Bath & Body Works has been negotiating to build a campus in the U.S. that gives the company greater access to manufacturers and faster turnaround times for new products.
- A $7.95 bottle of hand soap used to require three months of production and 13,000 miles of shipping to the company’s Ohio distribution center, but the new campus has reduced that process down to 21 days.
- The company’s campus now hosts 10 suppliers for the company’s manufacturing, 5,000 employees, and multiple factories and warehouses that have contributed to increased efficiency and revenues, The Wall Street Journal reports.
- Bath & Body Work’s success has also attracted other companies like Amgen and Intel to build plants and production facilities that could bring billions of dollars worth of business to Ohio.
Why It’s Important
Multiple political and economic forces have pushed for greater domestic manufacturing in the past decade, and Bath & Body Work’s success is an excellent example of how a large corporation can succeed in doing so. Domestic manufacturing has also been a major policy push for the last two presidential administrations, with President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden pushing to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. from countries like China to bolster the jobs market.
As we previously reported, the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Chinese military hostilities, and the subsequent supply chain crises that emerged from both incidents have encouraged a trend of “reshoring” in an effort to secure supply chains and promote greater economic self-reliance.
Backing Up a Bit
Bath & Body Work’s efforts have been a long time coming, but its success speaks for itself. It wanted to shorten the time it takes to get products to market and tighten its supply chains, giving the company greater flexibility and access to its core manufacturing materials. Company executives outside of Columbus, Ohio, now live a short distance from manufacturing facilities and have the ability to address issues in person.
It took years of negotiations and compromise to unite the manufacturers into one industrial park. The company had to persuade its suppliers to move production to the U.S., which can be expensive and require sizable capital, expenditure, valuable real estate, and expensive labor. “It’s going to be a two- to three-year heavy lift for a payout in five to 10 years from now,” says supplier Jeff Stouffer.
The long-term bet has paid off in Bath & Body Work’s favor, with the company having the majority of its products produced onsite throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing the company to avoid ongoing supply issues. Factories onsite build foam pumps and mechanisms, fill the bottles, assemble them, label them, and package them for distribution. Supplier Rieke produces every component of the bottles onsite for a similar cost to when it was producing them in multiple separate factories abroad and now produces 300 million bottles per year domestically.