Made in USA: Growing Panes for a High-Tech Window Company

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SageGlass was bought by a French company but its manufacturing remains in the United States. Operations director David Pender talks about the pros and cons of this arrangement.

SageGlass invented dynamic glass—“tint on demand” windows that use special coatings and low voltages of electricity to filter out varying degrees of light. The small company started in 1989 in New York, but eventually moved to Faribault, Minnesota, 50 miles south of Minneapolis, because the area was developing a reputation for its innovation in window manufacturing.

Then in 2012, French building materials manufacturer Saint-Gobain acquired SageGlass. Although the unmet demand for dynamic glass was mainly in Europe, Saint-Gobain chose to keep production in Minnesota, build a new plant there, and convert the old plant to a research and development facility. The new facility can coat panes of glass that are more than twice the size of the old ones.

David Pender, director of operations at SageGlass (who previously spent 11 years in Germany working for Saint Gobain), talked about the challenges and advantages of keeping SageGlass’s manufacturing and R&D in the United States:

Challenge: Europe has the most growth potential, but our manufacturing facility is in the U.S.

Western Europe is a little further along than the U.S. in building codes. What’s considered extremely exotic here … is considered almost normal in Europe. Getting the supply chain right to be able to produce everything from what’s acceptable in the U.S. to what’s expected in Europe poses a certain amount of challenge. We’ve got to be sourcing some things from Europe, to make the products here and then shift them back to Europe. That doesn’t make too much sense at the moment, but we are trying to grow this market worldwide. Europe is growing very, very quickly because the Saint-Gobain name in Europe is a big plus.

Advantage: The highest demand for the product is still in the U.S.

Overall, we’re on a three to four times year-over-year expansion. So this year we’ll produce three to four times what we did in 2016. Which is a phenomenal growth rate, and that’s set to continue as we grow in the Europe, in the U.S. and the Middle East. We just got our first really big job in China. In the future, this facility will get to capacity and just produce in North America, and there will probably be another facility doing something similar in Europe—and who knows how that will do going forward.

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Steel Made at Northwest Indiana Factory Used in Navy vessels

Welding MAM

BURNS HARBOR, Ind. (AP) – The 337-foot USS Illinois submarine was built with steel made at the Arcelor Mittal USA factory in northwest Indiana. Read more of this post

US Imposes 266% Duty on Imports of Steel from China

US Imposes 266% Duty on Imports of Steel from China

Producers in China and six other countries sold cold-rolled steel at unfairly low prices in the U.S. market and will be taxed as much as 266% on the price, the Commerce Department said in a preliminary decision on March 1. Read more of this post

What it Really Means to be Made in the USA

DWM logo

You often hear companies touting their products as Made in America. Recently, DWM magazine looked at the Federal Trade Commission’s “Made in USA” Act which was designed to give the agency “the power to bring law enforcement actions against false or misleading claims that a product is of U.S. origin.” But other programs are in place as well to help consumers make informed decisions and this includes, Made in USA Certified®.

Made in USA Certified® is the only registered “Made in USA Certified” Word Mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, according to the organization.

“When we say it’s ‘Made in USA,’ you can count on it,” says Julie Reiser, president and co-founder.

Any company bearing one of the USA-C™ seals has gone through a rigorous supply chain audit to ensure that the product and processes originate in the United States of America.

The designation is an independent certification system that applies proprietary audit criteria consistently across companies, and criteria are checked through the company’s supply chain. “The seal says the company has committed to American jobs and to the American economy,” says Reiser. “Displaying the seal gives consumers the option to visibly support products and services of the USA.”

The Earthwise Group LLC, a national network of locally owned, independent manufacturers of doors and windows, announced that the organization has recently been recognized as “Made in USA Certified.” The organization is the first and only door and window manufacturer to be Made in USA Certified, according to Earthwise.

Why did they do it? “Number one it’s the right thing to do,” says Mark Davis, executive director, the Earthwise Group. “We have to invest in the American economy, American worker and American jobs. If our economy is going to turn around we have to be more sensitive in investing, and that means ingesting in American products.”

He also says the consumer is more willing today to buy American.

“Due to the economic slowdown we feel that the American consumer is more motivated than ever to buy American products,” he adds. “They are beginning again to take pride in American made products and realize the benefits of that …. They have seen the result of ignoring investing in America.”

So why should other companies look at this program?

“The biggest thing I try to do is educate people that the claim of ‘Made in the USA’ is unregulated. There are so many companies just making that claim,” says Reiser. “The only way the consumer really knows is if the company does a supply chain audit .”

It’s completely different to say it than to prove it, she adds.

“It says a lot about a company’s willingness to remain transparent. For companies it’s a powerful branding tool to distinguish among those who may be making false claims,” says Reiser.

She also adds that purchasing dollars are going to support a U.S. manufacturer and create U.S. jobs “which is at the crux of our problems now.”

“One of the things this does for companies is it distinguishes them against those in their industry who may be making a false claim to gain market share,” she says. “If the company has legitimately gone through the process and awarded the seal that puts them head and shoulders above the competition.”

Source: http://www.dwmmag.com/index.php/what-it-really-means-to-be-made-in-the-usa/

The European Commission found that Beijing illegally subsidizes Chinese steel producers.

china dumping steelBEIJING (Reuters) – The European Union will not be drawn into a trade war with China, the EU’s ambassador to the country said on Wednesday, a day after trade sources said the European Commission found that Beijing illegally subsidizes Chinese steel producers.

The Commission is investigating 37 dumping and subsidy cases, 21 of them involving China, and Tuesday’s preliminary finding asked EU members to back punitive tariffs against Chinese steel firms, a move that angered Beijing.

But EU Ambassador to China Markus Ederer said he was puzzled by and “flatly rejects” reports of atrade war between the two economies which together comprise the world’s largest trade relationship.

“I don’t want this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. First of all, it takes two for a war, and I can declare here that the EU is not available for a trade war with China,” Ederer told a news briefing.

China’s Commerce Ministry spokesman Shen Danyang on Wednesday called the Commission’s investigation into steel subsidies “unreasonable”.

“Such a conclusion based on unreasonable investigations will seriously hurt Chinese companies’ legal rights and interests,” Shen said at a separate news briefing.

European anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties affect less than 1 percent of Chinese exports to Europe, Ederer said.

“China, as well, has investigations, as you know, into European exports to China. We have no issue with that as long as it is under WTO rules,” he said, adding that observers should not “over dramatize” the issue.

The Commission’s ongoing investigations include a study of the alleged dumping of 21 billion euros of solar panels and components by Chinese producers. A preliminary ruling on that case, the Commission’s largest investigation to date, is due in the first half of 2013.

The European Union is China’s biggest trading partner while for the EU, China is second only to the United States.

(Reporting by Michael Martina and Aileen Wang; Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Air pollution in Beijing goes off the index

Associated Press/Alexander F. Yuan – A man flies a kite near electricity pylons on a hazy day in Beijing Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Air pollution levels in China’s notoriously dirty capital were at dangerous levels Saturday, with cloudy skies blocking out visibility and warnings issued for people to remain indoors. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan)

BEIJING (AP) — People refused to venture outdoors and buildings disappeared into Beijing’s murky skyline on Sunday as the air quality in China’s notoriously polluted capital went off the index.

The Beijing Municipal Environmental Monitoring Center said on its website that the density of PM2.5 particulates had surpassed 700 micrograms per cubic meter in many parts of the city. The World Health Organization considers a safe daily level to be 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

PM2.5 are tiny particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size, or about 1/30th the average width of a human hair. They can penetrate deep into the lungs, so measuring them is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than other methods.

The Beijing center recommended that children and the elderly stay indoors, and that others avoid outdoor activities.

The U.S. Embassy also publishes data for PM2.5 on Twitter, and interprets the data according to more stringent standards.

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WTO hands Obama victory in U.S.-China steel case

Reuters/Reuters – A worker checks on coils of steel at a factory in Dalian, Liaoning province

GENEVA/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The World Trade Organization barred China on Thursday from imposing duties on certain U.S. steel exports, siding with U.S. President Barack Obama in a dispute with Beijing over a type of steel made in two election battleground states.

The case involved duties imposed by China on “grain-oriented electrical steel,” which is used in the cores of high-efficiency transformers, electric motors and generators. The steel is made by AK Steel Corp of Ohio and ATI Allegheny Ludlum of Pennsylvania.

Although the specialty steel case is tiny compared with other trade disputes with Beijing, the WTO ruling gave Obama a timely win as he defends himself against accusations by his Republican opponent, Mitt Romney, that he is soft on China.

“Today we are again plainly stating that we will continue to take every step necessary to ensure that China plays by the rules and does not unfairly restrict exports of U.S. products,” Obama administration trade representative Ron Kirk said in a statement.

China’s Ministry of Commerce had no immediate comment on the ruling, which arrived late in the evening in Beijing.

When the Obama administration filed the case, the volume of specialty steel trade with China was in the range of $250 million. That pales in comparison with the auto and auto-parts trade at issue in the most recent case Washington filed against China in September. The volume of auto parts trade alone amounted to about $12 billion in 2011, according to the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

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Five ways ‘Made in the USA’ can cut your company’s manufacturing costs

Tim Boyle/BLOOMBERG – Keeping your manufacturing nearby can trim your minimum orders and hasten your turnaround time.

By: Nicholas Ventura Washington Post

As a young business owner running a clothing line in downtown Los Angeles, I am frequently asked where we source our production. My response, “Right here in Los Angeles,” typically surprises those who ask.

Think about it: In the London Olympics, United States athletes’ uniforms were made in China. Apple’s new iPhone 5, which some have predicted will raise the our GDP by 0.5 percent, is manufactured in China, too. Outsourced manufacturing has become the unfortunate norm.

But in spite of the increased cost to our business, we’re happy to report that all of our production is vertically integrated under one roof. We consider the increased cost of domestic production a smart investment, and although offshore production is cheaper, the benefits of doing everything locally far outweigh the money outsourcing saves.

This can be hard to explain to newlybootstrapped entrepreneurs, who often make the mistake of pinching pennies in areas that require smart investments. Supply chain and inventory are both areas that require these “smart investments” and skimping on either will result in too much or too little product.

The pitfalls of having too much inventory are obvious, but for a new business, too little inventory can be just as disastrous to the company’s future growth.

So is American manufacturing really dead? I don’t think so. Consider the advantages.

1.Without extreme cost-saving minimums, business owners can cut inventory tremendously.

Our company originally brought in product from northwest Mexico, which enabled us to save 20 to 30 percent on production. However, we were forced to do larger production runs to meet their minimum orders. With a large inventory, we were forced to tie up much-needed capital and cash flow into the products we stocked.

Cash flow is crucial for new businesses, but this is a delicate balance that must be finely tuned, because missed sales due to lack of inventory is worse than having too much inventory in the first place. By being made in the USA, we can fulfill these orders and maintain a skinny inventory because turnaround times are quick.

2.The speed of domestic supply chains is leaps and bounds quicker than that of overseas supply chains.

Not only were our overseas factories asking us to meet hefty minimum orders, but their turnaround time was about three weeks slower than that of domestic manufacturers. This hurt because it didn’t allow our product to reach our customers as quickly. For a business to thrive, it needs to fulfill as much demand as possible.

3.Forecasting trends in the marketplace is more forgiving with a quick supply chain.

The larger minimums and the longer turnaround time forced us to buy production runs in large numbers and forecast trends with little confidence in our predictions. It was a bet that cost us a substantial dollar amount — all to save 20 percent. The increased agility provided by domestic production allows you to react on the fly to the market, whereas with overseas production, a bum forecast may leave you sitting on a ton of dead inventory.

4.In the end, you may even end up saving money.

Looking back, we would have made a better investment in developing our supply chains here in America rather than trying to cut costs from the onset. You are more flexible on an initial investment because you can start with lower inventory numbers, and your increased production speed will allow you to fulfill more reorders for your customers. This is a particularly important point, considering your highest margins are made through reorders.

5.Business advantages aside, think of your national pride!

“Made in the USA” is currently one of the hottest trending topics in the country for a reason. Our country needs more jobs, and there is no better way to create jobs in America than to produce here. Production equals jobs — it’s a simple equation that many Americans ignore. A huge impact can be made with a simple push by young entrepreneurs to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. The trend will spark more followers and you will see a rise in jobs and manufacturing in America.

“Made in the USA” is what built my business to what it is today. When starting your new business, ask yourself how you can harness the benefits of domestic production, too. You may be pleasantly surprised — just as those individuals were when they heard where our apparel is really sourced.

Nicholas Ventura is the co-founder of Youth Monument Clothing, Inc. in Los Angeles, California. He is a member of the  Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.

Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Wind

Ed. note: This post was originally published on energy.gov.

American Wind PowerPhoto courtesy of Nordex USA

Our countdown of the top ten things you didn’t know about wind energy:

10. Human civilizations have harnessed wind power for thousands of years. Early forms of windmills used wind to crush grain or pump water. Now, modern wind turbines use the wind to create electricity. Learn how here.

9. A wind turbine has as many as 8,000 different components.

8. Wind turbines are big. A wind turbine blade can be up to 150 feet long, and a turbine tower can be over 250 feet tall, almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.

7. Higher wind speeds mean more electricity, and wind turbines are getting taller to reach higher altitudes where it’s even windier. See the Energy Department’s wind resource mapsto find average wind speeds in your state or hometown.

6. Most of the components of wind turbines installed in the United States are manufactured here. Facilities for building wind turbine parts are located in over 40 states, and the U.S. wind energy industry currently employs 75,000 people.

5. The technical resource potential of the winds above U.S. coastal waters is enough to provide over 4,000 gigawatts of electricity, or approximately four times the generating capacity of the current U.S. electric power system. Although not all of these resources will be developed, this represents a major opportunity to provide power to highly-populated coastal cities. See what the Energy Department is doing to develop offshore wind in the United States.

4. The United States generates more wind energy than any other country except China, and wind accounts for 35 percent of all newly installed U.S. electricity generation capacity over the last four years.

3. The United States’ wind power capacity reached 47,000 megawatts by the end of 2011 and has since grown to 50,000 megawatts. That’s enough electricity to power over 12 million homes annually — as many homes as in the entire state of California — and represents an 18-fold increase in capacity since 2000.

2. Wind energy is affordable. Wind prices for power contracts signed in 2011 are 50 percent lower than those signed in 2009, and levelized wind prices (the price the utility pays to buy power from a wind farm) are as low as 3 cents per kilowatt-hour in some areas of the country.

1. As much as 20 percent of our nation’s electricity could come from wind energy by 2030but continued support for clean energy tax credits is critical to achieving this target. That’s why President Obama is calling for an extension on the Production Tax Credit — to support wind producers in the U.S. and continue to help drive the wind industry’s growth.

Liz Hartman is the Communications Team Lead of Wind and Water Power at the U.S. Energy Department

More Trade Actions – Wind Turbine Towers, Washing Machines

More Trade Actions – Wind Turbine Towers, Washing Machines

Dave Johnson  |  July 31, 2012  |  Campaign for America’s Future

The game is to underprice your product until your competitors go out of business (like Solyndra & other solar companies). Then you own the market. This is about a lot more than just jobs. Our government is finally doing something about leveling the playing field!

This week, in separate actions, our Commerce Department imposed “anti-dumping” tariffs on wind turbine towers and washing machines. The wind turbine towers were coming in from China and Vietnam, the washing machines from Mexico and South Korea.

Why Sell Under Cost?

Dumping is when a product is sold for less than it costs to evenmake the product. The idea is that your competitors will go out of business and the manufacturing ecosystem of suppliers, knowledge and infrastructure moves to you, so you’ll come out ahead in the long run.

It takes enormous investment to open up a manufacturing operation because you need the proper facilities, the right local utilities, the tools and machines, the skilled workforce, the suppliers, the local infrastructure, the channels to markets, and all the rest of the ecosystem that supports manufacturing. When that is lost to another country it is very, very difficult to get it back. Especially in a country with a Congress that refuses to understand the need for a national industrial policy.

This is the game that countries like China have been playing with their national industrial policies designed to capture strategic industries like solar and wind energy. By selling lower than cost for several years you gain market share and shed competitors. The suppliers, knowledge base, and jobs move their way. Eventually they build or strengthen an entire ecosystem and it is just too costly for others to try to compete.

At first it is attractive to take advantage of the lower prices, later the jobs, factories, companies and entire industries are gone along with the jobs and economic power they bring. Or, in other words, look around at what has happened to us.

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