Hotels bet guests will favor furnishings made in USA

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Montague Furniture

By:Barbara Delollis USA Today

When you walk into a hotel in the U.S. today, you’ll see many items – chairs, draperies, lamps – that were made in China, Vietnam, Malaysia or elsewhere overseas.

But that’s gradually changing, hotel designers and furniture makers tell Hotel Check-In.

There’s a small but growing trend among hotels to buy more items from local, regional or U.S. vendors.

Hotel owners, developers and designers are increasingly deciding it’s worth it, even if they pay a little extra for a U.S. product.

Why? There’s time and risk involved with ordering items from overseas, plus showcasing locally made goods can give the hotel a patriotic or community-minded spin.

Examples:

  • The Hyatt Regency Minneapolis recently finished a $25 million revamp that used “Made in America” as its central theme. More than three-quarters of the items purchased for the renovation came from the USA, says designer Michael Suomi of New York-based Stonehill & Taylor. The guest bathroom counter tops, for instance, feature granite quarried locally and purchased from a century-old Minnesota company.
  • The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, in Greensboro, Ga., is in the midst of redecorating to give guests a lighter, more modern look with many U.S.-made products, says Megan Ybarra of the Dallas-based interior design firm Duncan Miller Ullman. The hotel found wall coverings from Kentucky, guestroom carpet from Georgia, and a Texas metalwork firm was hired to custom-make the metal branches that form the base of guestroom ottomans, she says.
  • The InterContinental Chicago’s 477-room renovation emphasizes locally-sourced materials and furniture, says Dan Egan, the hotel’s sales and marketing director. Guest rooms contain drapery from Union, Ill., headboards from Jasper, Ind., wall covering from York, Penn., and room signage in hallways from McCook, Ill.
  • Montague, a 20-year-old guestroom furniture maker, last April invested in its first-ever factory – and it’s located in North Carolina, says Misty Delbridge, who runs the company’s U.S. division. It made sense, because hotel owners are increasingly seeking products made here and the factory was in danger of closing down, she says. A Hilton hotel in Texas, for instance, is having the company prepare two model rooms for a renovation – one outfitted with furnishings made in Vietnam and the other with furnishings made in the U.S., she says. Montague still has about 70% of its products produced in China and Malaysia.

No. 1 priority: Put heads in beds

Another factor driving the growth in U.S.-sourced products is hotels’ rush to renovate in as small a window as possible so that rooms can stay filled with paying customers, says Delbridge. It’s especially true in New York City, where some hotels can be sold out or almost sold out most nights of the year.

“If the cost (to purchase U.S.-made furniture) is 10% higher and the hotel can gain revenue back in six to eight weeks, they’re all about it because then they could have a ‘Made in America’ story and gain revenue,” Delbridge says. “These companies wouldn’t do it just for the story. There’s got to be an advantage in it for them.”

Hotel renovations are faster paced than building new hotels from scratch, notes Ybarra, who worked on the Ritz-Carlton Lodge project. It typically takes about 18 months to renovate a hotel, which since the recession has been the most common activity among hoteliers, vs. about three years to build a new one, she says.

“Our clients are willing to pay an extra dollar or two to not have the hassle of waiting,” Ybarra says. There’s also the risk of complications, she says, citing long waits at U.S. Customs and a time when pirates took over containers filled with items for a Turks and Caicos hotel.

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Why Siemens is expanding U.S. manufacturing

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PHOTO: Former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (R) walks with Siemens Energy Director of Operations Mark A. Pringle (L) during a visit to Siemens Energy’s plant in Charlotte, North Carolina, January 25, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Keane

By Helmuth Ludwig Reuters

In his State of the Union address Tuesday, President Barack Obama talked about the importance of upgrading America’s aging infrastructure. He told the story of how our company, Siemens, recently created hundreds of manufacturing jobs in North Carolina. He quoted our U.S. CEO as saying that if America upgrades its infrastructure, we’ll bring even more jobs.

But there’s another important reason we chose North Carolina, along with more than 100 other manufacturing sites in this country. By manufacturing in the U.S., we get proximity to our largest market; highly skilled workers and crucial software engineers in the Research Triangle, educated at some of the world’s best universities; ready access to ports for export, and cutting-edge innovation that we can link directly to our manufacturing sites. All in a business-friendly atmosphere.

America is poised to lead the next manufacturing renaissance. Sophisticated software is the critical component — and that’s what America produces better than anyone. But smart public policy is also needed. So is a sharp focus on what will make U.S. factories more productive, efficient and sustainable.

When industry insiders talk about America’s improving manufacturing outlook, they usually cite four components of production that have shaped global manufacturing for the past decade. But these elements are now being radically rethought ‑ in a way that plays to U.S. strengths.

First, the idea that the world is “flat” has been supplanted by the idea that speed matters. Innovation speed is now understood to be a competitive advantage. So keeping design and manufacturing half a world apart – manufacturing in China, for example, when your design team is in California – makes less and less sense.

Second, the assumption that lower wages always correlate with lower total cost has proved to be false. Manufacturers increasingly recognize that months-long transportation chains can contribute to substantial direct and indirect costs.

Third, the belief that U.S. energy costs would be a long-term disadvantage has been deflated by unconventional fossil fuel reserves. The “shale gale” is driving U.S. natural gas prices to less than a quarter of those in much of Europe and Asia.

Fourth, the faith that outsourced “low-value” manufacturing jobs would be replaced by higher-value service jobs has been adjusted to the reality that manufacturing underpins the economy. It is crucial to create and sustain steady high-wage employment.

But the major reason why U.S. manufacturing is so well positioned for a renaissance is software that can bring the real and virtual worlds together in a way that erases all boundaries between the two. It connects everyone involved in product design and execution to the same network, sharing the same sets of data, to improve collaboration and decision-making.

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Cantaloupes linked to deadly multistate Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak

— Two deaths and multiple cases of illness across 20 states have been linked to cantaloupes contaminated with salmonella, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
State and federal health officials are advising consumers to discard all cantaloupes from southwestern Indiana, as tests have found evidence of the same strain of salmonella bacteria associated with a multi-state outbreak that health officials say is still ongoing.

The outbreak, which began in July, has been linked to two deaths and sickened at least 50 people in Kentucky. According to the Food and Drug Administration’s website, a total of 141 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from 20 states: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

The agency cautions consumers not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe, or cut through the outer surface, as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the fruit.

Consumers with questions about food safety are encouraged to call 1-888-SAFEFOOD or consult the fda.gov website.

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) provides these recommendations for preventing Salmonellosis

– Wash hands with warm soapy water for 20 seconds before and after handling food and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, and handling pets.

– Wash utensils, cutting boards, dishes, and countertops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.

– Consider using paper towels to clean kitchen surfaces. If you use cloth towels, wash them often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that people in a normal state of health who ingest Salmonella-tainted food may experience diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which typically begin within 12 to 72 hours. This may be accompanied by vomiting, chills, headache and muscle pains. These symptoms may last about four to seven days, and then go away without specific treatment, but left unchecked, Salmonella infection may spread to the bloodstream and beyond and may cause death if the person is not treated promptly with antibiotics.

Children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune symptoms should practice extreme caution, as salmonellosis may lead to severe illness or even death.

Earlier this week, the Food and Drug Administration found Listeria monocytogenes on a honeydew melon and at a packing facility in Faison, North Carolina, but no illnesses have been reported.

In 2011, the number of deaths linked to a listeria outbreak in cantaloupe rose to 29, topping a 1985 mark for the most deaths among adults and children. Experts say the third-deadliest U.S. food outbreak was preventable.

Read more: http://www.wptv.com/dpp/money/consumer/cantaloupes-linked-to-deadly-multistate-salmonella-typhimurium-outbreak#ixzz247HWdmdS

Cheaper Produce at the Farmers Market? It’s True

source:By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com

Farmers markets tend to be thought of as the province of the well-to-do, peddling things like $12 heads of organic lettuce and edible chrysanthemum leaves. But with more than 7,000 farmers markets across the country, according to the USDA, surely their appeal must extend beyond cost-blind locavores. Indeed, the few studies of farmers market prices we’ve found show that consumers on a budget can actually save on locally grown fruits and vegetables this time of year.

Can you save money by shopping at the farmer's market?

Can you save money by shopping at the farmer’s market?

A 2011 survey by consulting firm SCALE Inc.found that farmers market prices were equal to or cheaper than supermarket prices about three-quarters of the time. The primary exceptions were free-range meat and eggs, which cost an average of 10% more than free-range products at grocery stores and 47% more than conventionally raised products. The items in the study included apples, bell peppers, zucchini, potatoes, butternut squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, chicken, eggs, ground beef, and other everyday foods.

SCALE surveyed prices last summer at two dozen farmers markets in Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia. The study compared each farmers market to two nearby grocery stores and found that shopping at the farmers market yielded an average savings of 12% when comparing like items (i.e., organic apples to organic apples). However, when the study’s author simply sought out the cheapest available item (paying no attention to whether poultry was free-range or conventionally raised, for example), slightly more than half the time he found it at the supermarket. This suggests that consumers who don’t make a point to buy organic produce and grass-fed meat may not see the same savings at the farmers market as shoppers who do.

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Made in America: Trend Against Outsourcing Brings Jobs Back From China

Manufacturing is now underway at Lincolnton Furniture in North Carolina

Sat Jan 14, 2012 9:59 AM EST

By Sopan Deb
Rock Center

The United States may be on the verge of bringing back manufacturing jobs from China.

Harold Sirkin, along with Michael Zinser and Douglas Hohner (all experts from the Boston Consulting Group – a leading business advising firm), says that outsourcing manufacturing to China is not as cheap as it used to be and that the United States is poised to bring back jobs from China. The three consultants first reached this conclusion in a recently published study titled “Made in America, Again: Why Manufacturing Will Return to the U.S.”

Many companies, especially in the auto and furniture industries, moved plants overseas once China opened its doors to free trade and foreign investment in the last few decades. Labor was cheaper for American companies – less than $1 per hour according to the BCG report. Today, labor costs in China have risen dramatically, and shipping and fuel costs have skyrocketed. As China’s economy has expanded, and China has built new factories all across the country, the demand for workers has risen. As a result, wages are up as new companies compete to hire the best workers.

“The tilt is now getting lower,” Sirkin says. “We think somewhere around 2015 it’ll look flat and may start to tilt in the U.S. favor at that point in time.”

By 2015,  it will only be about 10 percent cheaper to manufacture in China.

“We have to recognize one thing,” Sirkin told NBC’s Harry Smith in an interview to air Monday on Rock Center with Brian Williams. “The average Chinese worker is about a quarter as productive as the average U.S. worker.”

“It’ll be a major impact. Our projections are, when you take the manufacturing jobs and then the service jobs that get created alongside those, that we will add two to three million jobs to the U.S. workforce.”

The U.S. is already seeing examples of this – starting  in Lincolnton, North Carolina.

Rock Center has been following Bruce Cochrane of Lincolnton Furniture as he brings his family business back to the U.S. and re-opens the family furniture plant. Cochrane was invited to the White House last week for a forum on job creation with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

“Now, you don’t have be a big manufacturer to insource jobs,” Obama said.  “Bruce Cochrane’s family had manufactured furniture in North Carolina for five generations.  But in 1996, as jobs began shifting to Asia, the family sold their business, and Bruce spent time in China and Vietnam as a consultant for American furniture makers.  But while he was there, he noticed something he didn’t expect: their consumers actually wanted to buy things made in America. So he came home and started a new company, Lincolnton Furniture, which operates out of the old family factories. He’s even re-hired many of the former workers from his family business. “

According to BCG, another manufacturer, Sleek Audio, moved production of its headphones from Chinese suppliers to a plant in Florida. Ford Motor Company is bringing back 2,000 jobs from China after striking an agreement with the United Auto Workers. Sirkin says it’s good news for the economy even though wages will be lower in those jobs than they were previously.

Sirkin believes fears that United States manufacturing is in decline are overstated and notes that the U.S. is still a manufacturing giant. In 2010, China provided 19.8 percent of global manufacturing value added. The U.S. accounted for a marginally less 19.4 percent, which, according to Boston Consulting, was “a share that has declined only slightly over the past three decades.”

Editor’s Note: Harry Smith’s full report, ‘Made in America,’ airs Monday, January 16 at 10pm/9c on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams.

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