Friday, October 6 is Manufacturing Day throughout the United States. U.S. manufacturing takes both some hard hits and some bad raps in today’s economy. It is in definite decline in its overall contribution to our nation’s economy compared to 50 years ago. However, many manufacturing facilities here are doing well and are going through growth pains–the biggest growth pain is finding qualified workers to fill new and vacant positions. I work at a domestic, independent manufacturer, and our business is able to compete with international firms – and avoid layoffs.
What hurts manufacturing growth is that it is hard to find individuals willing/able to start a new manufacturing facility. Craft breweries are doing well. However, most of today’s growth is coming from expansion of already existing firms. I have included below links to several articles published this year on small U.S. manufacturers with different products produced, different problems faced and different locations. Read their stories and come to get an idea of what it is like from their point of view.
In May, Marketplace published a story about clothing manufacturer American Giant, located in South Carolina. What it Takes for One Apparel Company to Make its Clothes in the U.S., covers how this firm, started in 2011, is behind the Made in America movement.
Marketplace also covered East Penn Manufacturing Company in the February article Manufacturing is Alive and Well in Reading, PA. East Penn manufacturers lead acid batteries for automobiles. Also included is info on getting young people trained and focused on manufacturing careers.
Industry Week published an article in May on American Apparel American Apparel Puts Made In USA Advocates to the Test. Gildan Activewear, its parent company, sells the same product made both domestically and overseas, as an option for customers.
Another small clothing manufacturer, Aerostitch, located in Duluth, MN, was highlighted in June by Marketplace in an article entitled Small-Scale Manufacturing is on the Rise in American Cities.
My favorite manufacturing article was published in September in the New York Times. Entitled, Eager to Create Blue Collar Jobs, A Small Business Struggles, it is about a company, Diversified Engineering and Plastics, located in Jackson, MI. It supplies parts to the big automakers, and is headed by 35-year old Anita-Maria Quillen, who, with partners,purchased the failing business from her father. The story highlights some of the realities faced by a small manufacturer in terms of dealing with both customers and employees.
Finally, Industry Week published in March of this year the article The Future of Manufacturing. As the title implies, it is providing foresight as to where manufacturing is likely headed in the decades to come.
Manufacturing is definitely alive. How well it is depends on where and what industries you look. Also not mentioned is that there are many overseas companies that manufacture here in the U.S. It is essential for America to have a diversified economy and not be like some that are focused on only one sector – usually tourism. Continually reviewing tax and regulations on manufacturers will be essential in the years to come.