There are world class manufacturers in China, but the key is finding them.
Want to buy cost effective Chinese fitness equipment? Worried about fake suppliers and shoddy equipment? Not sure how to identify the best from the rest?
Don’t worry – in this article we provide the ultimate guide to find trusted Chinese commercial fitness equipment suppliers.
Table of Contents
- 1. The Importance of Finding a TRUSTED Manufacturer
- 2. Top 5 Trapes of Chinese Manufacturers
- 3. Why Choose a Manufacturer in China
- 4. Top 7 Misconceptions About Finding A Manufacturer in China
- 5. Where to Find the Ideal Manufacturer
- 6. How to Verify the Manufacturer
- 7. Five Different Types of Fitness Equipment Suppliers
- 8. Top 10 Fitness Equipment Manufacturers in China
- 9. Conclusion
1. The Importance of Finding a TRUSTED Manufacturer
As a gym owner, your equipment is your business. The reputation of your fitness establishment rests upon the quality, functionality and reliability of the strength and cardio training equipment that you provide for your members. The last thing you want is to provide your members with low quality equipment that is unreliable and uncomfortable.
At the same time, you need to find an equipment supplier who is able to provide you with excellent value for money. Your equipment purchase is going to be one of your biggest expenses, so establishing a relationship with a trusted supplier who is able to deliver BOTH quality and economy is a vital aspect of your success model.
2. Top 5 Trapes of Chinese Manufacturers
China is the world’s leading manufacturer of fitness equipment. It contains some superior suppliers of premium quality commercial gym gear, backed up by outstanding service. But there are also many manufacturers who are far less scrupulous. A fraudulent company is one that deviates from its agreement with the purchaser. In this section, we reveal the most common business scams in China and how to avoid them.
Scam #1: Poor Quality
Although ‘Made in China’ is everywhere, quality is increasingly recognized worldwide. However, there are so many fitness equipment manufacturers in China.Inevitably, many of them will provide low-cost products to compete with their peers and attract new customers. But under the low price competition, are customers the ultimate beneficiaries? No. The lower the quotation is, the less it costs on the equipment. Not to mention some accessories, the safety of some large fitness machine cannot be guaranteed at all.
For example, some manufacturers claim that they use a 3mm-thickness pipe, but in fact, the thickness they reported is the thickness after spray coating, not the thickness of the raw material. Such things are endless. Yanre Fitness insists on using 3mm thickness pipe as raw material.
There is an old saying in China that you get what you pay for. So when choosing a fitness supplier, don’t just focus on price, you should pay more attention to quality itself.
If you want to learn more about how to judge quality without being cheated by suppliers, read more: Buying Guide Series
Scam #2: No Originality
Many fitness equipment suppliers in China now have their own design departments. But in the early days, many Chinese equipment suppliers lacked original designs and completely copied international brands. Until now, there are still some copy-and-paste manufacturers. If they completely pasted the design and materials that big brands applied, then congratulations, you bought the international quality at a low price. But this is far from the truth. In order to reduce costs, the products are only similar in appearance. Movement angle and materials are completely specious. Functional movemnets are difficult to meet the standards. So be sure to polish your eyes and try to avoid these inferior copy-and-paste suppliers.
Yanre Fitness only produces 100% self-designed equipment. Here is one of its product design graphs:
Scam #3: Reluctance to Show Documentation
If you are dealing with a reputable Chinese company, they will be eager to show you their business license. Those who are not will put off showing their documentation. More than likely they will tell that they will scan it to you, only for it never to actually arrive. Do not sign a deal with a Chinese company unless and until they have furnished you with a copy of their business license.
Scam #4: Rip-off
Many Chinese companies will insist that the overseas company representative come to China for a signing ceremony. However, when they get there, they discover that there is no Chinese company at all. Inevitably the foreign rep is lured to a small Chinese village to sign the deal. The most common reasons given for the necessity to come over is that it is Chinese custom and / or that the contract must be signed in front of Chinese government officials.
How does the fake Chinese company benefit? Often, they will have arranged accommodation at exorbitant rates and will rake off a percentage of the takings. There have even been cases where the foreign rep has been subtly told that he needs to bribe government officials or notaries for the deal to proceed. They then get a kickback from this payment!
To prevent being scammed, do all of your due diligence on the company you are dealing with before arranging any flights. This includes seeing their business license.
Scam #5: Supplying Product that is Inferior to Samples
Yanre Fitness always provides the same premium quality, no matter it is the sample or the formal order. But there are many Chinese companies who will show foreign buyers top of the line samples only to supply products on order that are far inferior. The only way to avoid this scam is to, once again, do your due diligence on the company. It is very likely that the company has done this before. If they have, it will be recorded online somewhere. If possible, do a site inspection before paying any money. Make sure, too, that quality control clauses are built into the contract.
3. Why Choose a Manufacturer in China
There are certainly challenges to doing business in China. However, there are also some powerful incentives to looking to that country as your fitness equipment supplier. Here are 5 key reasons why you should seriously consider dealing with a Chinese company:
Lower Production Costs
Chinese companies are able to provide top quality fitness equipment at a better price than any other country in the world. They have wages that are lower than either Mexico or Brazil (and far lower than the United States). With labor being such a huge component of business costs, this gives Chinese companies a huge market advantage.
Chinese industry has perfected the mass production of goods, allowing for the production of huge quantities of product in a short period of time. This is another significant factor in the lower price points that they can offer to overseas buyers.
Refined Production Lines
Over the past decade, the production line process in many Chinese companies has been elevated to a premium level of efficiency. The specialization of workers to a specific task, along with widespread innovation in machinery and technology have driven this production process, resulting in higher quality products at more competitive prices.
Various Industry Clusters
There are many industry clusters throughout China. Companies in the same industry will locate themselves in the same area of the country. Many fitness equipment manufacturers are located in southeast coastal regions, such as Shanghai, Guandong, Shangdong and Jiangsu provinces. This makes them easily accessible to ports, reducing shipping costs and time. Cluster areas for a product category also have lower costs of materials and labor.
Over the last couple of decades, China has developed the world’s most efficient product procurement ecosystem. It incorporates vast networks of suppliers, distributors, packagers, shippers, government agencies, sourcing companies and quality control firms that work seamlessly to ensure that the whole process runs very smoothly.
4. Top 7 Misconceptions About Finding A Manufacturer in China
- You are better off dealing with a factory or manufacturer than a trading company – This is not always the case; research across all options.
- You need to find one manufacturer for all your equipment – Not necessarily. When it comes to fitness equipment some companies specialize in strength while others are focused on cardio. Go for the best deals, even if it means dealing with more than one company.
- The best price is the best deal – Price is just one factor. You also need to look carefully at the design, ergonomics and build quality.
- I can find the best manufacturers of Google – The top listed suppliers on Google are usually there because they have paid for the advertising. You need to dig deeper to do your due diligence.
- There is a ‘best manufacturers’ list – you have unique requirements. Rather than looking for a list, search the market to find the ideal fit to fill your gym’s unique requirements.
- The manufacturer will know the compliance requirements – Do not expect a Chinese manufacturer to know the compliance requirements in your country. You need to be on top of it and make clear to them any design modifications that are required.
- To find a Chinese supplier, I need to go to China – While it would be ideal to visit the manufacturing facility, this is not a necessity. However, if you are buying without going on site, you should order a sample product before placing a large order.
5. Where to Find the Ideal Manufacturer
Your first port of call when searching for your ideal Chinese gym equipment manufacturer will be the internet. Search Google for the best manufacturers. Then go to the official website of the company and take a good like around. From there, enter the company name into Google and search through the first 10 pages of results. If there have been any issues previously, they will show up in those pages.
As a secondary search, enter the name of the company into Google followed by “+ scam”. Any problems will have left a trace online!
Trade Shows and Fairs
Taking a trip to China to visit a trade show is an investment in time and money that you will not regret. There is no replacing face-to-face contact and being able to see the equipment live. Once you establish a relationship with a manufacturer at a show, try to visit their factory before you return home.
Prior to turning up at a trade show you should pre-arrange to have a verified interpreter to meet you. Click here for a database of interpreter services.
You should also know that the vast majority of trade show dealers will not accept US dollars in favor of the RMB. You should also arrange a forward freighter in advance.
There are two basic divisions of trade fairs in China:
- Competitive Exhibitors
- Professional Exhibitors
If you go to a competitive exhibitor trade fair, you will see a broad category of products. Professional exhibitor fairs focus on a single product category, such as commercial fitness equipment.
Here are four of the top trade shows in China:
- The Canton Fair (home-use fitness brands)
- Sportshow (comprehensive sports brands)
- China FIBO（commercial fitness brands)
- China IWF (commercial fitness brands)
A sourcing agency is a Chinese based company that will act as your representative on the ground. They will have a vast amount of experience in the industry and will be able to direct you with local knowledge and contacts.
A sourcing agent will be able to match you up with the manufacturer that represents th best price at the highest quality. He can also provide quality control checks before shipping. In addition, the sourcing agent can guide you through the importation process, telling you wht certificates you will need, the ideal shipping method and alert you to any possible patent issues that may arise.
A good sourcing agent will:
- Have good English communication skills
- Respond to your communications promptly
- Have the ability to understand and express your unique equipment requirements
- Possess in-depth product category knowledge
- Have a wealth of professional import / export experience
Chinese B2B Platform
There are a number of Chinese websites which act as platforms for global wholesale trade. They can provide valuable contacts and alert you to fantastic deals. Here are three of the best:
Social Media platforms can provide a valuable means of establishing and maintaining business relationships. Make sure that your presence on Facebook and LinkedIn is substantial and professional. Then actively seek out industry contacts that you can build a relationship with.
6. How to Verify the Manufacturer
Once you have identified a potential company to deal with, you will need to set to work to do your due diligence. Here are 4 things you should do:
Basic Background Information
– Thoroughly read the official website.
Check the policy on returns, damages, and back orders. Be sure that the contact information, including physical address, are listed. You should also be able to locate the landline for the company. If you can only find a mobile number, be wary. It may be an indication that you are dealing with a scammer.
A genuine Chinese phone number will begin with the China code of 86, followed by a two-digit area code and then an eight-digit number.
– Search the database of the Chinese Supreme Court.
You will be able to enter the name of the company and check whether it shows up on any case files. Be aware that the site is in Chinese, so you will need a Chinese speaking assistant.
– Consult a third-party corporate credit inquiry website, such as https://www.qichacha.com/ (It’s a Chinese website).
– Request to see the company business license, complete with its unique company registration number.
– Ask to see references from existing customers.
– Check the actual physical location on Google Maps.
– Check the ownership status of the company.
– Request to see the company business certifications.
– Check the company’s profile on Alibaba, Global Sources, and the Hong Kong Trade Development Council.
– Use Global Sources to check the following data about the company:
- Start date
- Number of staff in each department
- Factory ownership
- Amount of sales
- Brand names
Order Product Samples
Analyze the quality of the:
- Product: Put the piece of equipment in your gym and invite your members to use and review it.
3-Party Video Call
Organize at least one video call between yourself, the manager of the company, and the sales rep that you have been dealing with. Make an assessment of the professionalism of the salesperson. Generate questions from the official website and check that the answers given are consistent with that information.
Ask the manager specific questions about the factory operation, including lead times, quality control and research and development.
Here are some tips for negotiating with your supplier during a 3-party video call:
- Research the manufacturing costs of products for the company
- Have at least 3 other quotes on hand from competing companies
- Request references from long standing customers
- Be prepared to walk away if your non-negotiable terms are not met
- Display confidence and conviction
- Prepare for the meeting through role play where potential objections are raised
- Have a deposit ready to pay immediately
Ideally, you should make a visit to the factory. Assess the following aspects:
- factory size
- factory facilities
- manufacturing process
- management system
- products (materials used, movement angle, appearance etc.)
- the feel of the equipment (try it out!)
- design ideas and concept
If you are unable to make a personal visit, you should let the company know from the outset that you are going to have a factory audit conducted. You can hire a quality control firm located in the city of manufacture for a cost of between USD 300-900. Even you are not going to actually hire a company to do this work you should tell the representative that you will. If they react negatively, you should probably walk away from them!
Here are links to three leading quality inspection companies that will provide factory inspections on your behalf:
7. Five Different Types of Fitness Equipment Suppliers
The manufacturer is the creator of the product. You will always get the lowest price from the manufacturer because there is no middleman. In China, you will find companies that either do or do not have an English sales rep. Those that do not will make use of a domestic trading company to sell to foreigners. Those that do will more than likely have an online store on Alibaba, their own website or engage in online marketing.
A trading company is a firm that connects buyers round the world with sellers in China. The trading company neither owns nor stocks any equipment. The seller will pay a sales commission to the trading company. This will increase the price that you will pay.
There are a large number of trading companies that pretend to be manufacturing companies in order to sound more convincing to potential foreign buyers.
A sourcing agent acts as the buyer’s representative in China. The agent will provide you with a precis of the top manufacturers, make the appropriate connections, provide quality inspection services and make shipping arrangements.
China is the world’s biggest wholesale market. The benefits to the buyer of ordering through a wholesale company are that the minimum order quantity (MOQ) is much lower than dealing directly with a manufacturer and that you can order a range of products from the one source.
Three of the most prominent wholesales companies in China are:
When you sell goods through a drop ship arrangement, you do not stock the products that you sell. Instead, a 3rd party will ship the product directly to the customer. The big problem with dropshipping is that there is no way to guarantee the quality of the product. However, dropshipping can be a good way to test the market.
8. Top 10 Fitness Equipment Manufacturers in China
The following list represents the 10 leading commercial gym fitness equipment in China in 2020. For details on each of these companies go here (link to Definitive Gym Manufacturers Guide).
Related article: Top 10 Gym Equipment Manufactures in China: The Definite Guide
Looking for the right manufacturer for your fitness business is an ongoing process. It requires a serious investment in time and effort. However, those efforts will pay off many times over when you enter into a relationship with a reputable Chinese equipment provider, who becomes your long-term supplier over the life of your business.
Now that you’ve read my definitive guide, it’s time to share your ideas . . .what aspect of importing fitness equipment from China is the most challenging for you?
And what other information would you like to know about finding a gym equipment manufacturer in China?
Leave your comment below. I’d like to hear from you.