I visited a company recently that has been making a popular consumer product in China for six years. As their business grows and demand for their product increases they are becoming more frustrated with the slow lead times and increasing costs from their Chinese supplier. When I asked the owner of the company how many times he has visited China he replied, "once." With just one visit in the last six years I congratulated him that he had not seen more quality issues over this time ( though as it turns out he does have quality issues as well ). In fact, companies that do not spend time in China see quality and costing issues over and over again. I have worked for companies like this. If you are not over in China checking production at least 3-4 times a year ( spending two weeks at a time at the factory where they make your product) the message you send to the vendor is that anything they produce is acceptable. It is that simple.

Spend time in China, discuss your business at length with your vendor, talk to the workers who are making your product, tell them why they should do a better job for you and, if you have to, drink beer with them at lunch.