By Tim Collie
Adam Reiser has been a fan of American manufacturing since he first tried to park a Honda in a friend’s driveway as a high school student during the 1970s.
The friend’s mother told him to keep the Japanese-made auto out of her yard – a local Ford plant had just shut down, laying off thousands of workers.
“I didn’t know what to make of it, but she explained it all to me, and that’s when the idea of ‘Made in USA’ started with me,’’ says Reiser, CEO of Delray Beach-based Made in USA Certified.
The quality assurance company is expanding space and ramping up hiring from its Atlantic Avenue headquarters – a sign downtown Delray Beach is still bustling in tough financial times, say Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) officials, who promote business growth in the district.
By December, Reiser says, Made in USA Certified will employ at least 40 people compared to its current staff of 15.
The jobs will range in salary from $40,000 to above $100,000 for everything from marketing experts to auditors and information technology specialists, says Reiser.
Simply put, the company specializes in certifying that its clients’ goods were largely manufactured in the United States. The standard is based on established U.S. Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
“Our minimum standard is all or substantially all – except if you’re a digestible product or a baby product, it’s 100 percent,” Reiser says, citing a litany of recent scandals involving dangerous imported goods.
Among the firm’s major clients are Hanky Panky, based in New York’s garment district, and Fiandaca, based in Palm Beach and New York, according to Ellen Ehrenkranz, the company’s vice president of finance. In addition to promoting their ‘made in USA’ status, the company is establishing an e-commerce site for other companies to promote and sell their goods.
Reiser and Ehrenkranz are also keeping an eye out for the next big thing: the mom-and-pop businesses always springing up around the country that could have a game-changing product to sell.
“Our deal is about partnering,” explains Ehrenkranz. “If we’re touting a blue jean company whose jeans are made in the USA, then people will start buying those products because it’s important to them. I think attitudes are changing now. People are realizing we’re rapidly losing the manufacturing base in this country.”
A retired U.S. Navy nuclear electronics technician, Reiser formed Made in USA Certified four years ago with his wife. The father of six boys attending local schools, Reiser looked around and saw how foreign competition had decimated the once-thriving computer industry in southern Palm Beach County.
“We have really no real middle working class,” says Reiser, 47. “Delray is a typical example – you have people who live on the beach and then a small number after that. There’s no real middle class.
“IBM is a good example. They designed the PC here in Boca Raton. We used to have a thriving manufacturing base built all around them right here in South Florida. There were disk drive manufacturers, the monitor guys, the boards for the video cards, optical devices. We had the software guys. They were all here. Now they’re gone.”
Ehrenkranz wants to see that local base returning, and believes that the company’s headquarters can be an important downtown booster.
“We’re a growing company, we’re a clean company and we’re headquartered right here in the center of Delray,’’ she says. “I moved here because it was the closest thing I could find to a small New England town in Florida. It has that feel, and we want to be a part of that.”
Tim Collie is a freelance writer for the Delray Beach CRA. He can be reached at // < ![CDATA[
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