Q&A with Jordan Erskine, President of Dynamic Blending Specialists, Inc.
CEOCFO: Mr. Erskine, would you tell us about Dynamic Blending Specialists?
Mr. Erskine: Dynamic Blending Specialists is a turnkey contract manufacturer for skincare, hair care, oral care and other cosmetic products.
CEOCFO: What are some of the special requirements, regulations, challenges in manufacturing of skincare and cosmetics?
Mr. Erskine: We produce our products in an FDA regulated facility. Most cosmetics have looser regulations than that of drug products. However, we have built a quality system that goes above and beyond the required regulations for cosmetic products. A big challenge with a turnkey manufacturer is ensuring all the pieces of the project line up to produce a quality product on time for our clients. Another challenge is minimum order quantities when working with smaller businesses. Dynamic Blending has setup our processes to help businesses of all sizes including startups.
CEOCFO: Who is turning to you?
Mr. Erskine: We deal with a lot of small businesses and start-ups. A big benefit to using Dynamic Blending is we work well with small businesses and are able to adjust our minimum order quantities very low to make it affordable for them to get their products manufactured so we work with startups, small businesses and even larger companies.
CEOCFO: Is there a common thread in people who turn to Dynamic Blending?
Mr. Erskine: One big common thread is the natural skincare market and the natural cosmetic market. The majority of our business is clients that we talk to on a daily basis that are requiring some kind of natural or organic product. That is what we try to specialize in, providing solutions that are natural or organic. We try to stay ahead of the curve from other manufacturers that maybe are focusing more on standard products.
CEOCFO: Does a company come to you with all the specifications or do you sometimes have to work with them to figure out the best way to get things done?
Mr. Erksine: Most of the time we have to work with them and help them set up their formula specification and help find packaging and that is where our turnkey solutions really come into play. We provide a start to finish service. We have clients who come to us that have no idea what they are doing and we can help them develop the formula they want, we can help them find packaging, we can help them get their labels and artwork printed for their branding and fill and manufacture and ship them their finished product ready to sell. Most of the time our clients do not understand the industry or process and we help them through that process step by step.
CEOCFO: How can you help a client and put them in the right direction?
Mr. Erskine: We had a client once who reached out to us after they were feeling frustrated talking to other contract manufacturers and since they were a startup other contract manufacturers did not want to entertain the idea of working with them. When they reached out to us and we were able to help and provide full disclosure of information for how the process works, what our minimum order quantities are and literally helping people every step of the way is what we do best and that goes a long way for startup companies and small businesses that do not understand how to take a product from concept and get it all the way to market.
CEOCFO: What about the packaging solutions and suggestions and how has that changed over time?
Mr. Erksine: I think packaging has changed in the sense that more companies are realizing that they have to stand out from their competitors and we are seeing more and more companies want custom packaged solutions. This means they want packaging suppliers to custom make a bottle or jar for them that is not on the market currently and they have to manufacture a brand-new design of packaging so that it will stand out from their competitors.
CEOCFO: Do you need to keep a large supply of raw materials. What do you need to do to be ready for your customers?
Mr. Erskine: It really depends on the project. If it is a natural project we try to order per job because of the natural ingredients we do not want to run into any quality issues of having some of these natural extracts and ingredients sitting in a warehouse for a year before it is used. There are some ingredients that have longer shelf life and are standard in most cosmetic skincare products that we are able to stock and pull from as we need for each job.
CEOCFO: Are there many places to get the raw materials and the ingredients and does they change much over time?
Mr. Erskine: We have a vast network of trusted chemical suppliers that we use that are billion dollar suppliers who supply the whole world so there is never an issue of running out of material unless it is a specialized ingredient with long lead times. Some of the ingredients that we get might be a special anti-aging solution that is only made in Spain, so we have to plan accordingly on the manufacturing and production end for that.
CEOCFO: What is the key to running a successful manufacturing business?
Mr. Erskine: I think the key is being flexible. Our flexibility and eagerness to work with companies of all sizes has set us apart in the contract manufacturing world. We get a lot of clients that switch manufactures to us because they are not happy with their current manufacturer and they want to switch to us because they see we are responsive and flexible and we try to work out any problems that they may be running into.
CEOCFO: Do you do smaller quantities because you see larger quantities from the customer in the future or have you figured out a way to make even small quantities be cost effective from your end?
Mr. Erskine: It is a little bit of both but we are hoping on the fact that helping these people get a foot in the door and if they grow then we do to. We are trying to give everybody a fair chance that a lot of our clients have good ideas and good products but they might not have the connections of a company like Loreal. When they grow and expand on their business end, that means we do too.
CEOCFO: Do you vet the products so that you feel they are safe?
Mr. Erskine: We follow all FDA regulations. There are different tiers of FDA regulations and we fall more into the cosmetics side which is not as highly regulated as a drug or a pharmaceutical product. With our years of experience we know exactly what we are doing so if somebody brings us a product that was a little questionable or had ingredients that we know the FDA frowns upon or something like that, then we convey that message to our clients and say look we cannot this product or we need to change this and this ingredient, so it depends project to project but we have a very good idea of what the FDA will not allow even in cosmetics and what they will allow.
CEOCFO: Are you able to ramp-up as needed or do you need to increase your manufacturing space or are you set for a long time.
Mr. Erskine: We are expanding in a few months to another 4000 square ft. of manufacturing space so we are definitely not at capacity. We have that ability to ramp-up from a 1000 unit orders all the way up to 500 thousand unit orders fairly easily.
CEOCFO: Is it easy to find people to work at your facility?
Mr. Erskine: At our geographic location here in Utah there are quite a few manufacturers of dietary supplements and other types of FDA regulated manufacturing facilities so it is fairly easy to find somebody that has experience and understands the FDA regulations and GMP manufacturing.
CEOCFO: Would you tell us about being recognized by the industry organization ICMAD?
Mr. Erskine: We won Innovative Company of the Year by ICMAD for our willingness and flexibility to work with small businesses and not turn them away like other larger contract manufacturers do. Given our experience and how we have our business model set up we won it in July of this year. One of the judges even came up to us after the award ceremony and told us why we won it. They were very complimentary of how we are changing the dynamic of the contract manufacturing world just by helping out small businesses and startup companies get their foot in the door to this massive industry.
CEOCFO: Did you understand early that it made sense to work in this manner – to be able to be that flexible with quantity or did you recognize over time that was a good way to grow the business?
Mr. Erskine: It was over time. I have sixteen years of contract manufacturing experience working for other large contract manufacturers and working for them and seeing the business helping small businesses and startups dwindle to nothing and only focusing on the larger companies, really got me as well as some of my business partners really thinking that we can do this better and not have to turn away the small startup companies.
CEOCFO: You mentioned moving into more space. What are your plans for the next year or so?
Mr. Erskine: We are focusing on the natural and organic skincare market. We are probably sixty days away from becoming an organic certified facility through USDA and NSF. NSF is a large regulatory body as well. We then will continue to focus on growing our business and expanding our capabilities on what products we can manufacture and what we cannot manufacture.
CEOCFO: How do you reach out for potential new customers?
Mr. Erskine: A great deal of our business now comes from lead generation from our website and our advertising that we do. Being in Utah, there are quite a few skincare, oral care, dietary supplement companies as well as multilevel marketing companies like Doterra® and New Skin® all at our backdoor, so it is pretty easy for them to find a need to use us as either extra capacity or their exclusive manufacturer.
CEOCFO: Why choose Dynamic Blending?
Mr. Erskine: I think you will not find another manufacturer out there that will spend the time and be as flexible as you need them to be that will ultimately help your business succeed from small unit orders to just that open line of communication and transparency that we have with our clients so they feel like they can trust the manufacturer that they are using and that they can stop by and call whenever they want to for questions and to bounce ideas. We try to be somewhat consultants with them as well.
Dynamic Blending Specialists, Inc.
Interview conducted by:
Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor, CEOCFO Magazine
August 14, 2017
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