As a sunscreen brand, summer is a crucial selling season for Bask Suncare. When a supply chain delay nearly cost the company its ability to sell its hero product, founder and CEO Mike Huffstetler turned to Airhouse.
In preparation for the summer, Bask Suncare founder and CEO Michael Huffstetler placed an order for the plastic bottles that hold his company’s award-winning sunscreen in September. He wanted to be sure he’d have his inventory ready to go months in advance of peak selling season.
But those bottles were to be manufactured in China, and around the time he placed the order, China was going back into COVID-19 lockdown—hard. Between the lockdowns, shipping delays, trouble getting into port, and similar struggles across the supply chain, the bottles—which are FDA-approved to hold Bask’s formula and must be made of a unique plastic—were going to be late.
Manufacturing of the lotion itself couldn’t begin until the bottles were in hand, further compounding the consequences of a delayed shipment. What was originally communicated to be a two-week delay in the bottles’ arrival became four, then six, then eight, and Mike quickly realized he needed a Plan B if he wanted his inventory by the spring.
After calling about 40 manufacturers, Mike was coming up empty. Most manufacturers are in China, and even those that he found in the United States were outsourcing the actual work to China.
“This took up all of my time for several months to try to do all this,” Mike said. Eventually, he reached out to the team at Airhouse: did they, by chance, know of a manufacturer he hadn’t spoken to yet?
“It’s a step way beyond white-glove customer service. In essence, you’re buying into not just the service level capabilities, but also years and years'—I mean decades'—worth of high-level ecommerce experience that you can then lean on.”
As a 4PL, Airhouse’s focus is on fulfillment: getting products from warehouse to customer. But the company’s mission is to modernize fulfillment in order to help high-growth DTC companies scale, so when Mike asked for advice, the team pulled a few strings.
Airhouse used its network of fulfillment professionals to introduce Mike to a manufacturer called Albéa, which has locations all over the world, including in Mexico. After he got in touch with Albéa, the manufacturer was able to fulfill Bask’s order within 30 days. Even better, because the bottles were coming from North America, they never needed to get on a boat or a plane.
“It’s a step way beyond white-glove customer service,” Mike said of Airhouse. “In essence, you’re buying into not just the service level capabilities, but also years and years'—I mean decades'—worth of high-level ecommerce experience that you can then lean on.”
A member of Airhouse’s Customer Advisory Board, Mike is no stranger to the benefits of joining Airhouse’s network of savvy entrepreneurs. When exploring wholesale opportunities for Bask, Mike connected with another Airhouse user and learned which retailers were good partners—and which weren’t.
“You don’t get that with most SaaS companies—as a customer, to really have a voice,” Mike said. “I can send a suggestion and I know that not only does that make it into the product roadmap, but that Airhouse is actively seeking input to build a set of tools that works for their customers—not just for them.”
Mike said he plans to use Albéa as his main manufacturer moving forward, though he kept his original order with the Chinese manufacturer, which should arrive in the midst of the dog days of summer.
To have missed peak season would have been “seriously crippling,” Mike said. “Airhouse quite literally enabled us to sell our hero product for the summer.”
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