This Column Was 100% Made in America

A Hyundai ad that ran during Super Bowl coverage showed workers from the company's plant in Montgomery, Ala.

A Hyundai ad that ran during Super Bowl coverage showed workers from the company's plant in Montgomery, Ala.

By   Published: February 15, 2012

BLUE-COLLAR workers in fields like manufacturing — particularly when they make products on American soil — are again becoming a favorite subject for white-collar workers on Madison Avenue.

The trend was born of the economic worries that followed the financial crisis in 2008. Recently, it is gaining steam — appropriate, since the ads often use blasts of steam to signal something is being built — with proposals in Washington to offer incentives to encourage the location or relocation of factories in the United States.

“We continue to see very heavy emotional response to anything that would leverage against the bad economy,” said Robert Passikoff, president at Brand Keys, a brand and customer-loyalty consulting company in New York. Read more of this post

Can Manufacturing Jobs Come Back? What We Should Learn From Apple and Foxconn

business
The Huffington Post

David Paul – President, Fiscal Strategies Group  –  Posted: 02/13/2012 8:30 am

Apple aficionados suffered a blow a couple of weeks ago. All of those beautiful products, it turns out, are the product of an industrial complex that is nothing if not one step removed from slave labor.

But of course there is nothing new here. Walmart has long prospered as a company that found ways to drive down the cost of stuff that Americans want. And China has long been the place where companies to go to drive down cost.

For several decades, dating back to the post World War II years, relatively unfettered access to the American consumer has been the means for pulling Asian workers out of deep poverty. Japan emerged as an industrial colossus under the tutelage of Edward Deming. The Asian tigers came next. Vietnam and Sri Lanka have nibbled around the edges, while China embraced the export-led economic development model under Deng Xiaoping.

While Apple users have been beating their breasts over the revelations of labor conditions and suicides that sullied their glass screens, the truth is that Foxconn is just the most recent incarnation of outsourced manufacturing plants — textiles and Nike shoes come to mind — where working conditions are below American standards. Read more of this post

Dumping China for American Job Shops

More U.S. small businesses are steering their orders to American factories, such as Tennessee-based Bristol Custom Solutions, as costs go up in China.

More U.S. small businesses are steering their orders to American factories, such as Tennessee-based Bristol Custom Solutions, as costs go up in China.

By Parija Kavilanz @CNNMoney  February 13, 2012: 11:51 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — U.S. small businesses that initially rushed to Chinese factories to get their products made are now dumping them for American manufacturers.

And the shift is gaining traction, said industry experts who match U.S. small companies with domestic firms.

Mitch Free, the founder and CEO of Atlanta-based MFG.com, said his company has seen a 15% uptick in inquiries since 2009 from U.S. firms looking for American factories to replace their Chinese suppliers.

MFG.com is one of the largest online directories used by businesses to find domestic manufacturers.

One reason behind the trend is that “Chinese manufacturing has become expensive,” Free explained.

Another is that the U.S. economy is still uncertain. Most small businesses are forced to order large quantities to justify costs when dealing with companies overseas, he said. And that’s a risky move if American consumers are not splurging yet.

Manufacturers closer to home allow small businesses to order smaller batches, which means less of their money is tied up if their inventory is unsold, he said.

Revive Made in USA? Easier said than done

WindStream Technologies opened a new manufacturing facility in North Vernon, Ind., last September to produce small wind turbines for home use.

WindStream Technologies opened a new manufacturing facility in North Vernon, Ind., last September to produce small wind turbines for home use.

WindStream Technologies knows well the value of manufacturing in the United States.

In December 2010, the startup selected a Chinese factory to make 35 prototypes of its wind turbines, because they wanted them “quickly and cheaply,” said David Dingman, Windstream’s lead mechanical engineer.

It was a disaster. “The prototypes that the Chinese manufacturer sent back to us were junk,” said Dingman. “There were parts that were put upside down. Other parts were poor quality. Some even fell off.”

WindStream decided not to have the final products made in China.

The company was able to snag U.S. manufacturers with the help of MFG.com.

And last month, it started mass producing its small wind turbines for home use at its new 45,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in North Vernon, Ind. The company employs 30 workers and is hoping to ramp up to 100, if it lands a deal to sell the turbines at a mass retailer, said Dingman.

WindStream now has its turbine covers made in Chicago, while some metal parts are produced in Ohio.

Some of the turbines parts are still made in China, simply because the raw materials to make them don’t exist in the United States, said Dingham. But “the Midwest proved to be terrific for us,” he said.

Indeed. WindStream produces its turbines at a 10% lower cost per unit compared to what the company would have paid in China, thanks to its American suppliers that provide competitive prices and the elimination of overseas shipping and travel costs.

Del Mar, Calif., entrepreneur and inventor Julie Zizka actually liked the way her tote bags looked after a Chinese manufacturer produced 5,000 of them for her in 2008.

But she still was not a fan of having her manufacturing done overseas. She had concerns about production delays and fretted about how the extensive amount of transportation used was hurting the environment. What’s more, she noticed that her customers were preferring products that were made in the United States.

By 2011, she was looking for a U.S. manufacturer to produce her “Tote Buddy,” a colorful tote for storing reusable plastic bags.

She came across one after searching online and seeing ads for Bristol Custom Solutions, which heavily advertises on MacRAE’s Blue Book.

MacRAE’s has seen a pickup in inquiries — just like Zizka’s — from companies wanting to replace Chinese suppliers with American ones, said Lori Meloche, MacRAE’s vice president of marketing.

The directory — first published in the United States in 1893 as a “blue-colored book” — has since evolved into a website with more than 1.2 million North American industrial manufacturers, which averages 1.5 million users monthly.

What small firms want from Obama’s manufacturing plan

Zizka connected with Bristol, a 26-year-old, Tennessee-based manufacturer, best-known for making secure locking bags used by banks and the federal government to transport cash and other valuables.

“People have been contacting us all the time lately, telling us they don’t want to produce their products in China,” said Brandon Cantrell, Bristol’s general manager.

When Zizka sent Bristol a sample of the tote, the company redesigned it and brought down some of her costs, said Cantrell.

Today, Bristol is making 1,000 new Tote Buddy bags for sale this spring. For Zizka, the unit price for one of her Tote Buddy bags made in Cantrell’s factory is still 170% higher than for one made in the Chinese factory, said Cantrell.

But that doesn’t bother Zizka.

“My customers want my bag made in the U.S.,” she said, “I’m willing to absorb that cost if I can control the quality, get them to my customers faster and help the environment as well.”

GE to Hire 5,000 U.S. Veterans, Investing in Plants

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – General Electric Co plans to hire 5,000 U.S. military veterans over the next five years and to invest $580 million to expand its aviation footprint in the United States this year.

The largest U.S. conglomerate unveiled the moves ahead of a four-day meeting it is convening in Washington starting on Monday to focus on boosting the U.S. economy, which has been slow to recover from a brutal 2007-2009 recession.

“We should have the confidence to act and to restore American competitiveness,” Chief Executive Jeff Immelt, a top adviser on jobs and the economy to President Barack Obama, said in a statement.

The U.S. unemployment rate — seen as the main barrier to a move vibrant recovery — fell to a near three-year low of 8.3 percent in January, helped in part by the manufacturing sector adding about 50,000 workers. Even with that improvement, 23.8 million Americans remain out of work or underemployed, which is keeping the economy a key issue heading into November’s presidential elections.

The world’s largest maker of jet engines plans this year to open three new U.S. aviation plants, in Ellisville, Mississippi; Auburn, Alabama, and Dayton, Ohio. After cutting headcount significantly during the recession — as did its major peers including United Technologies Corp and Caterpillar Inc — GE has added about 9,000 U.S. workers since 2009, and has already announced plans to hire another 4,500 people.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company, whose operations range from making loans to mid-sized businesses to manufacturing railroad locomotives, plans to discuss these moves at the Washington meeting. Boeing Co CEO James McNerney and Dow Chemical Co CEO Andrew Liveris are also scheduled to speak.

(Reporting By Scott Malone; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

Paramount Sleep licenses bedding brands to Cannon Sleep Products

Paramount Sleep

Paramount Sleep

Tuesday, February 07, 2012 
By: Furniture World Magazine 
Paramount Sleep announced that Fresno, Calif., bedding manufacturer Cannon Sleep Products has licensed its bedding brands.

Cannon is licensed to manufacture and distribute the products in California, Oregon, Nevada and Arizona. Cannon also has signed a license with Paramount to manufacture and sell A.H. Beard, an Australian luxury line that Paramount holds exclusive rights to in the United States.

“In Cannon, we partnered with a family and a company with many shared values—integrity, hard work and a shared growth vision for the future,” said Jamie Diamonstein, president of Paramount Sleep.

Like Paramount, Cannon Sleep Products is a third-generation, family-owned mattress producer. Founded in 1959, the company manufactures high-quality mattresses, box springs, futon mattresses, and futon covers.

“For more than 50 years my family has proudly manufactured the highest quality bedding,” said Cannon Vice President Rion Morgenstern. “The more we work with the Diamonstein family and see the perseverance and innovation that has become the hallmark of Paramount Sleep, the more excited we become about our new alliance.”

Cannon will produce Paramount mattress lines including Nature’s Spa, Heavy Duty (HD), Back Performance, Sleep For Success, and Boutique Hotel, as well as A.H. Beard. Last April, Paramount entered into a strategic alliance with Omaha Bedding to manufacture, service and support the full line of Paramount’s mattresses.

About Paramount Sleep: Paramount Sleep is truly a company of bedding people, dedicated to carrying on its legacy of integrity, innovation and American made craftsmanship for more than 80 years. It is the only national mattress company to be Made in USA Certified®. The company’s mattress lines include: A.H. Beard, Back Performance, Boutique Hotel, GoodNiteKids, Heavy Duty, Nature’s Spa, Quilt O PEDIC, and Sleep for Success.

About Cannon Sleep Products: Cannon Sleep Products is the number one independent mattress manufacturer in northern California. Founded in 1959, it is a third-generation, family-owned company with a vision to be the leading bedding producer on the west coast. Cannon operates out of a 150,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art, purpose-built facility currently shipping nearly 200,000 units each year across the west coast.

Furniture World Magazine


‘Made in China’ Is Starting to Get Too Expensive


By Brian Stoffel for the The Motley Fool  

American workers are far, far more productive than their Chinese counterparts.

Seem like an overly bold statement to make? Consider a recent study published by the Boston Consulting Group entitled Made in America, Again. The study makes just that assertion. And what happens when you combine lower productivity with the rising wages that Chinese laborers now demand? We might be looking at the perfect recipe for the rebirth of American manufacturing. Read more of this post

Made in USA: 30 Day Journey

"We're willing to DIE for our country, but are we willing to BUY for it?"

"We're willing to DIE for our country, but are we willing to BUY for it?"

Josh Miller of ‘Made in USA: 30 Day Journey‘ is asking us one simple question.

“We’re willing to DIE for our country, but are we willing to BUY for it?”

Josh and his film crew will set out on a journey in which he will live off USA made products for 30 days. During his travels, he will speak and interview business-owners, homeowners, politicians, economists and American consumers to find out, among other things, what ‘Made in America’ means to them.  We will help Josh and his crew verify the made in USA claim with the help and support of Made in USA Certified.

Their goal is to raise $5,000 for the film during this campaign.  A $10 donation will get your name in the rolling credits of the film under “Minutemen”.  How cool will that be!

We believe Josh and his crew are a part of the Made In America Movement.  This film will help gain more exposure for this Movement.  This is why we are asking for your support.

Diane Sawyer & David Muir of World News with Diane Sawyer made everyone across the nation aware of this Movement last year with their ‘Made in America’ segments on ABC News, asking you all if you are “IN”.  Now we are asking you, are you in?

Let’s help Josh Miller on his journey.  Go to the link below. Donate your $10 (or more!) and let them know you are a proud supporter of the Made in America Movement.  Your support and donations really do matter!

Made in USA: 30 day Journey donation page I’M IN!

In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad

An explosion last May at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu, China, killed four people and injured 18. It built iPads.

An explosion last May at a Foxconn factory in Chengdu, China, killed four people and injured 18. It built iPads. (Color China Photo, via Associated Press)

By NYT   and   Published: January 25, 2012

The explosion ripped through Building A5 on a Friday evening last May, an eruption of fire and noise that twisted metal pipes as if they were discarded straws.

When workers in the cafeteria ran outside, they saw black smoke pouring from shattered windows. It came from the area where employees polished thousands of iPad cases a day.

Two people were killed immediately, and over a dozen others hurt. As the injured were rushed into ambulances, one in particular stood out. His features had been smeared by the blast, scrubbed by heat and violence until a mat of red and black had replaced his mouth and nose.

“Are you Lai Xiaodong’s father?” a caller asked when the phone rang at Mr. Lai’s childhood home. Six months earlier, the 22-year-old had moved to Chengdu, in southwest China, to become one of the millions of human cogs powering the largest, fastest and most sophisticated manufacturing system on earth. That system has made it possible for Apple and hundreds of other companies to build devices almost as quickly as they can be dreamed up.

“He’s in trouble,” the caller told Mr. Lai’s father. “Get to the hospital as soon as possible.” Read more of this post

In The Era of Big Boxes, a Day For The Little Guy

Rob Schwind shovels the sidewalk in front of the Chagrin Hardware in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.

Rob Schwind shovels the sidewalk in front of the Chagrin Hardware in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta)

Associated Press  By AMY SANCETTA  – Wed, Jan 25, 2012 7:33 AM EST

CHAGRIN FALLS, Ohio (AP) — It began quietly, as an email to 40 friends.

But when a steady stream of customers began coming through the door before the family-owned Chagrin Hardware had even opened for the day on Saturday, it was clear that it had turned into much more than that.

The idea started with Jim Black, a resident of Chagrin Falls, a close-knit village in Cleveland’s eastern suburbs that is part artist colony and part bedroom community. Black posted the email to a group of his friends. “Let’s show our support for one of our local businesses,” he wrote. “I challenge everyone to spend AT LEAST $20 at the hardware on the 21st.”

Although his email referred to the idea of a “Cash Mob” or the notion to “Occupy CF Hardware,” he really had no political agenda. And it wasn’t meant as a protest against the big-box stores that have created an ever-tightening circle around the community.

It was just a way to thank Chagrin Hardware’s owners for a beloved shop that has been a fixture in the village since 1857.

“These are good people who needed our support,” Black said. “It’s just that simple.”

The store, overlooking meandering Riverside Park and the Chagrin River in the middle of town, has been run by the Shutts family for the last 72 years. It passed from uncle to father to older brothers Rob and Kenny and the three youngest, Steve, Susie and Jack, who run the store today.

Black’s note was forwarded and forwarded and forwarded again. Calls started coming in from folks out of state who wanted to make a purchase over the phone.

And when the day came, so did the shoppers — one by one, with dogs on leashes and children in tow, hour after hour until the hardware was teeming with customers.

“This is small-town America,” said resident Martine Scheuermann, a bag of pet-safe ice melt in her arms and her Springer Spaniels tapping their toes on the worn wooden floor at her feet. “This is a special family business in a town where everybody knows you.”

The store has seen its share of tough times. Road construction on Main Street at the store’s front door some years back crippled business for a time. More recently, the weakened economy and the big boxes have stolen away customers.

On this day, though, those storylines were forgotten.

By 10 a.m. the place was jammed. By 1:30 p.m., the credit card machine was overloaded and had to be reset. “This is so cool,” said Steve Shutts, a mix of joy, wonder and happy exhaustion spread across his face. “I’ve seen people today I haven’t seen in years.”

The line at the checkout stretched in two directions as people with snow shovels and light bulbs and fireplace grates and vintage movie posters and horse shoe caulk — yes, horse shoe caulk — waited to pay.

Chad Schron, 38, came with his 8-year-old son Robert. “We didn’t have anything we had to get, but we found things we had to get,” he said. As he spoke, Robert clutched an Ohio State desk lamp and two flying monkey toys to his chest.

“When I was a kid, my Mom would send me down here with a note to let me buy BB’s,” Schron recalled. “Lots of kids did that back then. The notes still are in a drawer over there,” he said as he pointed past the register to a wall of wooden drawers containing everything from old springs to screws. In the drawer still labeled “BBs” were stacks of crumpled notes dating to the ’50s, from mothers just like Schron’s

When the final customer had finally left well after closing time with her fuzzy dice and floodlights, Schwind and Steve Shutts tallied the day’s receipts. Shutts shook his head at the wild and unexpected ride.

He wouldn’t say how much the store made that day, but was clearly pleased with the outcome.

“Thanks to Jimmy Black,” he said. “Thanks to everyone. Thanks to Chagrin Falls.

“What a place to live.”

Come On, China, Buy Our Stuff!

A Gap Inc. store in Shanghai, China.

A Gap Inc. store in Shanghai, China.

By NYT ADAM DAVIDSON    Published: January 25, 2012

The first time I visited China, in 2005, an American businessman living there told me that the country was so huge and was changing so fast that everything you heard about it was true, and so was the opposite. That still seems to be the case. China is the fastest-growing consumer market in the world, and American companies have made billions there. At the same time, Chinese consumers aren’t spending nearly as much as American companies had hoped. China has simultaneously become the greatest boon and the biggest disappointment.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In 2000, the United States forged its current economic relationship with China by permanently granting it most-favored-nation trade status and, eventually, helping the country enter the World Trade Organization. The unspoken deal, though, went something like this: China could make a lot of cheap goods, which would benefit U.S. consumers, even if it cost the country countless low-end manufacturing jobs. And rather than, say, fight for an extra bit of market share in Chicago, American multinationals could offset any losses because of competition by entering a country with more than a billion people — including the fastest-growing middle class in history — just about to buy their first refrigerators, TVs and cars. It was as if the United States added a magical 51st state, one that was bigger and grew faster than all the others. We would all be better off.

More than a decade later, many are waiting for the payoff. Certainly, lots of American companies have made money, but many actual workers have paid a real price. What went wrong? In part, American businesses assumed that a wealthier China would look like, well, America, says Paul French, a longtime Shanghai-based analyst with Access Asia-Mintel. He notes that Chinese consumers have spent far less than expected, and the money they do spend is less likely to be spent on American goods. Read more of this post

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