Outlook on Buying American

DSC_6717Reshoring and the state of US manufacturing have been hot national topics lately. The cost to offshore manufacturing is rising to a level that has a number of companies considering plans to relocate their facilities back to the U.S.  This has American consumers excited; in fact, there is an entire movement to promote and assist with reshoring. Additionally, politicians continue to push to rebuild US manufacturing. Growing the industry is considered a way to create more American jobs and strengthen the economy as a whole.

Meanwhile, a community of consumers has long been deliberate about buying American-made products. Between the changes in the manufacturing industry and the companies who have always proudly made their products in the U.S., the list of American-made brands grows. For Americans who wish to only buy domestic goods, how excited can we get about reshoring, and who can we buy from now?

China

Changes to China’s labor conditions and wages have sparked optimism for the reshoring movement. The wage gap is closing, and combined with spikes in fuel and transportation costs, offshoring isn’t as financially advantageous as before. As discussed in a previous article, however, the closing wage gap isn’t enough to drive prices so far up that we can expect droves of manufacturing facilities to relocate to the US.

That doesn’t mean that Americans shouldn’t be excited about a shift in retailers’ priorities. China also continues to struggle with its reputation for poor working conditions, unsafe facilities, and cheaply constructed products. While China has made great strides in its quality, safety, and working conditions, the rest of the world continues to hold a general distrust for China-made products. Experts are finding that consumer perception now has more to do with political concerns than factory conditions. So as China improves its manufacturing, the cost to manufacture there goes up while the reputation of their products remains poor. Coupled with an aggressively patriotic consumer base in the U.S., retailers may see more and more reason to reshore, after all.

American Products

Thus far, buying American hasn’t always been easy or simple. Tina Polito writes the blog China Ate My Jeans, which discusses the challenges of buying American as well as the U.S.-made products she finds and recommends. She, along with a lot of other Americans, prioritizes buying American for the beneficial ripple effect it has on our economy and job force. Buying 100% domestic is impossible without giving up modern amenities, so her goal is to limit her import purchases to less than half of her total household purchases. According to Polito, electronics are the most challenging items to find American-made.

Other challenges in purchase exclusivity include finding companies who only manufacture some of their product catalog in the U.S. 247wallst.com posted an article titled, “Ten Surprising Products Still Made in America” (http://247wallst.com/special-report/2012/07/03/ten-surprising-products-still-made-in-america/2/.) Companies that also manufacture offshore make most of the products; it is up to the consumer to determine whether the products make the cut. Here is a summary:

  • %75 of the microprocessor chips from Intel are produced in the U.S. Their state-of-the-art semiconductor production plant was scheduled to open this year in Arizona, employing thousands of Americans.
  • Pyrex kitchen containers and bakeware, now a division of World Kitchen, continues to distribute and manufacture their products in the United States. They employ 2,500 people in the U.S.
  • While the Oreck Magnesium vacuum cleaners are manufactured in China, the Duluth, MN-based company manufactures the Oreck XL vacuums in the states.
  • Post-it notes have been manufactured in the U.S. since 1985; scotch tape is also manufactured at the same 3M plant.
  • As of 2011, 98% of Weber’s workforce is located in the U.S. One of their later models is manufactured outside the United States, while the rest is manufactured in Illinois. Some of their components are globally-sourced.
  •  While Whirlpool Corp. is not popular with consumers buying American-made, their subset Kitchen Aid manufactures their highly popular mixers in Ohio.
  • Since Duraflame became independently owned and operated, it has employed 250 people across its U.S. corporate office and two manufacturing plants.

News of new retailers moving their manufacturing plants to the U.S. will continue to headline, making it easy for consumers to identify from whom they can buy American-made products. In the meantime, a number of blogs and sites are dedicated to identifying the existing products that are Made in the USA.

 

 

Load Movers Inc. is a Minnesota-based company that builds quality power tugs that reduce injury and increase productivity in manual material handling. We support the manufacturing industry and applaud growth and upgrades that benefit businesses, people, and the economy. For information about our products, search this site, email info@loadmoverinc.com, or call 952-767-1720.