Quoted from Aurich:
I assumed they're already getting parts from China honestly. Assembled in the US, but that doesn't mean the parts are built here. I don't have any actual clue, just assumptions.
In a show seminar back in 2011, Gary stated that he made a point to buy most hardware from local US suppliers. He didn't want to tie up money in overseas parts inventory, plus he believed the quality to be sub-par.
(1) I'd imagine that Stern has a very mature local supply chain given Illinois' pinball manufacturing history - quick turnaround, low shipping costs, and instant feedback on parts quality. It's tough to beat that for larger, unique parts like playfields, wireforms, vacuum formed plastics, cabinets. (2) Smaller, commodity-market parts like bolts, bulk wiring are probably bought in lower labour markets like China ...easy to ship, low inventory hold costs + commonly shared between games (no obsolescence). (3) In some cases, Stern has no choice for parts like LEDs that are only China made.
So, the only way to reduce the material costs is to source the larger, unique parts from a close-by low labour market. Mexico?