AD Systems Finds Rare Plastics Expertise on – and an Even Better Business Deal


AD Systems, headquartered in Everett, Washington, provides high-quality sliding doors and interior storefront assemblies to customers in the United States and abroad. Begun in 2009, the firm caters to the healthcare sector as well as other commercial and industrial customers. AD Systems started with just two employees; the staff now numbers 30. Sales are increasing, too, with over 10,000 doors now sold annually.

The firm relies on a variety of vendors to produce components in materials ranging from wood to aluminum to plastics. Typically, the firm looks to local shops to manufacture components, but it had increasing difficulty finding vendors capable of handling plastics projects ranging from simple cutting to molding and overmolding work. When the requirement arose to produce an injection-molded piece – a seal –that was over 55-inches in length, Ryan Martin, an engineer who handles R&D for AD Systems, needed to find a supplier with this hard-to-find capability – at an affordable price.

Ryan shares, “The die for a casting of this size requires a specialized machine. We thought the die alone would cost $20,000 to $30,000. In fact, suppliers in China quoted us $30,000, $70,000 and $90,000, not including the price per part. We needed to find another option.”


Ryan’s manager suggested that he look into as a possible source for this specialized expertise. He had used this online marketplace successfully in the past with positive results.

Ryan explored the marketplace and decided to upload his request for quotation (RFQ) for the die mold for the seal, along with the drawings and specifications.


Ryan was pleased to find a supplier in Illinois that was competitive in price and interested in producing the mold for the injection-molded piece. In fact, the supplier was able to create the mold at a lower total landed cost than had been quoted by the Chinese suppliers. AD Systems was more than pleased with this proposition – and the savings it afforded.

Ryan began using regularly after this positive experience. He estimates he has uploaded over 20 RFQs to date and awarded 18 parts to subscriber suppliers. He further indicates that using has saved AD Systems about $100,000 in the process. But, for AD Systems, says Ryan, “While price is important, we are more concerned with the quality of the components and making our overall product better by enhancing the quality of each constituent part. We have made great strides in that regard with manufacturers identified via”

Toward that end, Ryan puts a good bit of time into vetting possible suppliers saying, “I go onto MFG and I click the ‘view website’ icon to view the company’s website. I see how long they have been around, and I check the supplier’s rating on I read the buyer reviews and learn what customers are saying about the firm. Then, I do more research using Google. When I find a business that meets my criteria, I start an email conversation with them saying, ‘We are interested. Can you give me more information? What are your lead times?’ I try to get down to the nitty-gritty before I award the part.”

So far, his technique has worked 99 percent of the time with the exception of one Chinese supplier. Ryan recalls, “I did the research and they looked good. But, when it came time to make the piece, the sample was incorrect. We went back and forth many times until he made the sample correctly. Each time he wanted more and more money. By the time we were done, he wanted triple the initial bid. We cut our losses and went to a second supplier.”

Asked whether fit within his future strategy, Ryan said, “100%! is an invaluable tool that saves time and money. At the same time, it allows us to increase the quality of our products. You can’t ask for more than that from any resource.”


" is an invaluable tool that saves time and money. At the same time, it allows us to increase the quality of our products."

Ryan Martin
AD Systems


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