In 2010, OrthoLite opened our first, wholly-owned and operated factory, the Dongguan Eco Polymer Company (DGEP). It set our global expansion model in motion, and operates successfully to this day. It is the original proof of concept for our vertically integrated model that we can replicate across the globe.
As of fall 2021, OrthoLite has 10 owned and operated locations across six countries and three continents.
By taking control of, and responsibility for, every step of our manufacturing process, OrthoLite ensures premium quality, unmatched consistency, speed to market, and best practices in sustainability.
For our brand partners, another invaluable benefit of working with a vertically integrated company is supply chain reliability. Despite COVID-fueled supply chain disruptions, we maintain consistency in our supply chain. Having full control and ownership of our raw materials and capacity output means we consistently provide on time delivery for our brand partners.
With strategic focus on investments in risk mitigation across our global organization, we have the ability to navigate around supply chain disruptions or geo-political shifts such as the current pandemic with minimal to no disruption for our brand partners. Our global footprint, increased capacity and redundancy has provided us the ability to meet increasing volumes and growing demand, while lead times and on-time delivery expectations are being met or exceeded.
This is only possible because we own and operate the majority of our factories.
From the origins of our company, it’s been in our nature to seek a better way of doing things. Vertical integration is one example of how evolving our operations enables us to better serve the needs of our brand partners. We can apply innovations and process updates at any time. And because we observe results and learn from our own facilities, we can implement improvements at scale across the globe.
How Vertical Integration Works
In a nutshell, we build, own, and operate our own manufacturing facilities. This allows us near total control over our processes and products, from formulation to distribution. We are the only footwear component manufacturer that has this capability.
We create all of our own formulations in-house from proprietary raw materials. Since each of our foams are custom formulated to the precise specifications of each brand partner, our factory employees develop brand-specific expertise. Our ability to produce formulations, foams and proprietary chemistry in house means our production lines can be more agile when it comes to meeting the needs of our growing number of brand partners around the world.
How Vertical Integration Benefits our Brand Partners
As noted above, vertical integration allows OrthoLite to provide our brand partners with unmatched consistency, quality, and on-time delivery. We’re overseeing every step of the process so in the event a challenge arises, we have the power and capacity to implement real-time solutions.
Our vertical integration also elevates the transparency and integrity of your supply chain.
We can not only account for product quality, but also we can directly account for working conditions, safety protocols, waste and water management, and other factors that determine how we’re providing for our employees and the environment.
For our brand partners, our vertical integration model provides full transparency and integrity in the supply chain, which is reflected in dignified, safe, and comfortable working conditions, and in the continual improvements we make around resource use, management and disposal.
It supports our commitment to innovation by allowing us to focus on more sustainable product development and processes, a journey which is shared with full transparency through the third-party validation of Higg. It’s illustrated when we install solar panels on our factories, and when we implement steps to create a safer, healthier environment for people and the planet.
Risk Mitigation in the Supply Chain
OrthoLite’s operational footprint is global and diverse. We’ve invested in talented, skilled teams and strategic automations to mitigate risk, increase capacity, increase efficiencies and reduce waste. The result is a proven record of meeting or exceeding lead time expectations and on-time deliveries.
Our growing global footprint and investments in new technologies and redundancies across our production facilities ensure consistent, on-time deliveries and reduction in supply chain disruption. Should one region experience disruptive forces, OrthoLite has the ability to move a brand partner’s production to another region.
Increased On-Demand Capacity
We’ve invested in efficiencies that directly affect our capacity utilization. This year alone, we’ll make 550 million insoles for over 350 different brand partners across a wide spectrum of footwear categories. What’s more staggering is that we are currently operating at double of our installed capacity to accomplish that. We can grow with our partners’ needs.
We have the ability to enact smart practices and immediate improvements at our factories. This is guided by our proprietary OrthoLite Manufacturing System (OMS) designed to deliver efficient, safe, and sustainable production
Bottom line: When our brand partners need it, we can readily ramp up production volumes and growth across all regions.
Controlling our own manufacturing from A to Z means we have direct and requisite touch at every step of the process.
We have quality assessment built into our manufacturing system at every stage. If there ever were to be an issue, we would be able to identify and rectify in short order.
Our track record as the category leader and leading OEM insole supplier for the footwear industry has been proven in normal conditions and in challenging times, like COVID. Our global footprint accelerates speed-to-market by reducing time and transportation costs. It all comes together with a high success rate for on-time delivery.
Our strength in achieving on-time deliveries for our brand partners and T1 partners comes from a combination of speed, efficiency, production planning, factory redundancies, and the fact that we manage our own raw materials and production schedules. It also comes from our exceptional customer service teams who are a key and critical component of our success servicing brands, factories, and vendors around the world every day to keep goods moving and delivered on time.
Elevates supply chain transparency and integrity
As part of our partners’ supply chain, the OrthoLite arm is fully transparent and respectful of both human rights and environmental standards.
This isn’t merely a “selling point.” It’s part of our ethos. Our production means nothing without our people—a worldwide team of over 3,000 employees who we call family.
With a vertical integration model, we have the ability to directly invest in the health and safety of this team. As a global brand with an expanding footprint, we succeed on their strength. And it’s more than that. As humans who care about one another, fostering a protective and dignified work environment is paramount. This has proven to be especially important over the last 18 months.
Because we own our factories, we have the power to:
- Improve energy efficiency through implementation of solar panels and energy management best practices,
- Invest in new technologies and innovations to create efficiencies, to minimize waste and to reduce our carbon footprint,
- Optimize work space environments to make interior temperatures more comfortable for our employees, and
- Ensure that all regulations and safe working conditions are enforced and supported.
- Go beyond regulations to design work environments that honor the whole person.
In all that we do, we are relentlessly committed to delivering better, more thoughtful, and more sustainable solutions for our partners and for the people who use our products. While many operational and philosophical choices factor in, vertical integration is the backbone that enables us to be a nimble and responsive partner while achieving that goal.
And again: It’s more than that. We see a better future for footwear, and we’re honored to lead the way.