Memorial Day weekend is the biggest of the year for the sport of lacrosse with the NCAA championships.
Roseville’s Epoch Lacrosse will be at the championships, being played this year in Philadelphia, to debut its Dragonfly Integra lacrosse shaft. The new product is the culmination of the company’s efforts to “reshore” manufacturing of its carbon fiber lacrosse sticks — that is, bring it back to the United States.
Last fall, the company moved into 10,000 square feet of new space that is now fully furnished with custom-made equipment, molds and tools so Epoch can take products from design to production.
“Our goal is to have 65 percent of our revenue derived from products made here in the U.S. by 2017,” said James Miceli, principal of Epoch Lacrosse.
The company has launched a new manufacturing division, C6 Composites LLC, to design, develop, engineer and manufacture products in-house.
The division has created seven new jobs. Two new employees started last week on the Epoch side. Epoch/C6 now has 18 full-time employees. Miceli points to three paid intern positions as well.
“We are prepared to scale,” Miceli said. He envisions C6’s employment doubling or even tripling as the company smooths out production processes and adds manufacturing shifts.
With the new capacity, Epoch can go from prototype to finished product in hours and days, instead of the weeks it takes to get prototypes from Asian manufacturing centers.
“We can really tighten up our design windows,” said Jason Daniel, a product engineer at C6 Composites. “That was the most exciting part — that and being able to iterate.” That ability to make and test multiple designs gives Daniel instant feedback.
Epoch and C6 also partnered with local suppliers and manufacturers to make the company’s custom presses, machines and molds. “We’ve got suppliers who believe in what we are doing,” Daniel said.
Companies that invest in reshoring are looking to gain advantages in delivery, quality and price, said Bob Kill, president and CEO of Enterprise Minnesota, a certified consulting organization that helps and promotes manufacturing companies in Minnesota.
“The recession that now seems so far away got a lot of companies to think more thoughtfully about who should be a low-cost provider and who shouldn’t be,” he said.
Enterprise Minnesota’s eighth annual survey of Minnesota manufacturing executives, released earlier this month, shows that “one in three firms have gained new business due to ‘home sourcing,’ an overall increase of 12 points over last year.”
The reshoring at Epoch has already paid off for would-be Epoch customers. In Philadelphia, the new line of Integra shafts will be listed at $100 for attack/midfield shafts and $160 for the longer 60-inch inch poles for defensemen. That’s about $40 cheaper than Epoch’s Gen 6 shaft released last fall.
“We are a product-driven company,” Miceli says. “It’s all about making the product the best it can be.”