Most heavy-duty dealers and distributors carry both a domestic line and an imported line of drums and rotors, but what’s the difference? In our opinion, the products made overseas, and those made domestically are essentially the same. Our products typically test the same as US-made products and sometimes better. There are, however, some overseas manufacturers that do make products that are inferior to US-made products, and it is important to stay away from those.
Typically, drums and rotors made overseas are bought because they are significantly less expensive than a US-made product. Since labor costs, sometimes material costs, and sometimes freight costs to different parts of the US are lower for overseas manufacturers than for US manufacturers, overseas products typically sell for less. In addition, many consumers believe that a US-made product is better and so some are usually willing to pay a slight premium for it. However, 2022 was an exceptional year, and everything practically reversed. Ocean freight increased by almost $30 per drum, and the prices of drums and rotors from overseas were on par with or greater than those domestically made. However, we still couldn’t keep them on the shelves because our competitors’ lead times were too long, and we had inventory available. We were still usually able to replenish inventory faster than our competitors were able to deliver, and so we had a lot of fairly happy customers. In 2022, the primary benefit of an overseas drum was that many times, there was inventory on hand, and drums and rotors could ship right away instead of the 3–6-month lead times from our US-made competitors. During this time, many consumers who previously resisted an overseas-made product are now more open to an overseas-made product.
Now that ocean freight costs are low again, and material prices have softened, overseas-made drums are more competitive than a US-made brake and wheel-end products again. In addition, we have a good stock of products and have little lead time, whereas our competitors still have a lead time, with some still being months out. In addition, by stocking products in different parts of the US, many times we’re able to reduce delivery times to the customer as well. Since last year also, we believe that many customers who were forced to switch to an overseas-made product because of availability may now permanently switch due to the cost and their realization that country of origin doesn’t really matter — it’s only whose name is on the product. DuraBrake has manufactured drums overseas for the past 20+ years, and we proudly cast or stamp our brand name on all of our products. In addition, we offer an industry-standard warranty, $6 million in liability insurance, and on-site DuraBrake personnel monitoring quality to our engineering standards.