Client Spotlight: FarFromBoring
December 19, 2020
In this third client spotlight (read the first two here), we introduce the Boca Raton-based company FarFromBoring (FFB), which provides unique and captivating promotional products for clients across the country.
While FFB provides innumerable products, in 2018 it launched an eco-friendly straw campaign that went on to sell 167 million paper straws around the country in the first six months. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, FFB’s business was impacted by the slowdown in the hospitality business (restaurants and bars). However, they reacted nimbly and quickly pivoted to provide PPE and a propriety blend hand sanitizer.
When FFB originally launched its environmentally friendly straw in October 2018, the market was still dominated by plastic straws and paper straws were yet to be in high demand. Chinese suppliers offered low costs but a small volume. Due to FFB’s smart marketing and savvy business acumen, their original straw orders quickly quadrupled in size. In just two months, FFB ordered 100 million straws and had to place orders with five different factories to meet their delivery needs.
Buying from Chinese suppliers enabled FFB to secure the low first costs they needed to compete with plastic straws, but securing such a large volume of straws in a relatively young industry was a significant supply chain management challenge.
To begin, they had to identify qualified suppliers: companies that had both the necessary know-how and the potential scalability to address FFB’s needs. Identifying numerous suppliers to produce FFB’s paper straws was beneficial in many ways. First, it caused suppliers to compete with each other on pricing and manufacturing capabilities. This competition, along with an increase in demand, led to a fast improvement in suppliers’ production capacity. Many paper straw suppliers started off being only able to produce two million straws a month but quickly expanded their capabilities 10-fold.
Second, they had to be particularly rigorous about quality assurance since their orders were placed with different manufacturers. To ensure quality consistency, FFB commissioned its China team to conduct a technical study on how to make the best quality straws on the market. This study provided FFB with detailed and proprietary specifications on the optimal manufacturing methodology of the kind of high-quality paper straws they required. The specifications include many details, such as the origins and quality of the glue and paper and the assembly method to ensure FFB’s straws are best in class in the market.
While FFB caught the paper straw wave at just the right time and realized great success from this endeavor, their business was greatly affected when COVID-19 resulted in the closing of restaurants across the country—including some that were FFB’s largest clients.
This was totally unexpected of course, but FFB quickly pivoted its business model to make the best out of a bad situation. FFB began researching how to make the highest quality, proprietary blend of hand sanitizer on the market, adhering to the strictest FDA regulations. In June 2020, FFB launched its own brand of hand sanitizer, a project that has become another great success.
FFB has experienced numerous challenges over the past two years, from being “ahead of the times” in the paper straw business to confronting the sudden drop in paper straw orders during the height of COVID. But, through perseverance and by finding and rapidly bringing to market a new product that was in demand, the dedicated team at FFB has continued to make lemonade out of lemons.
Their systematic approach to product development has enabled them to become a stable supplier of two completely different products and to bounce back quickly as the country’s restaurants and bars re-opened.
In conclusion, FFB has demonstrated its entrepreneurial flair by taking a lot of brave, smart steps, including:
– Developing a brand new product category—paper straws—to become the supplier of choice before the trend had taken hold.
– Providing the highest quality paper straws on the market by investing substantial time, effort, and resources into product development and specifications.
– Pivoting and quickly adapting their business model to supply hand sanitizer when COVID disrupted their market.
– Returning to supplying paper straws to help the country re-open in an ecologically friendly way.
FFB is living proof that imaginative hard work pays off. As a company, they now have numerous commercial advantages that provide them the foundation to grow and scale long term, including:
1) A China team on the ground to help manage and optimize its China supply chain.
2) Multiple, FDA certified, qualified suppliers, and back-up suppliers providing numerous benefits.
3) Rigorous QA processes in place, including pre-shipment Inspections (PSI) on every order and comprehensive quality control measures.
4) Flexible delivery both by air and sea shipping.
Amidst a global pandemic, some people might have found themselves at home, feeling bored. But FFB has lived up to its name and demonstrated the value of being creative, innovative, and agile—by being anything but boring!
By Laura Dow