Taking a Closer Look at U.S. Manufacturing
>Re: "Just In Time -- Heroes and Villains," Sep. 2008
I agree that too many companies have jumped for the quick savings in their outsourcing efforts and have not taken a close enough look at all of the variables in such a decision. I am encouraged that I am beginning to see more reports of companies with American facilities that are able to compete. Plus, the foreign automobile companies keep building plants here.
Richard E. Crandall
professor, CIS Department
Appalachian State University
On the Comeback Trail
>Re: "Welcome Back U.S. Manufacturing," Aug. 2008
It's certainly about time. We have been reading about the doom and gloom for too many years now regarding the depletion of domestic manufacturing.
We are a 100% domestic textile and trim manufacturer located in Brooklyn, NY. We have been pro-U.S. manufacturing since our founder Thomas Gagliano started the firm 50 years ago. And although we have seen a drop-off in business for much of the 2000s, we have certainly noticed that a good amount of manufacturing has returned from abroad in the needle and sewn products industry.
It's a pleasant surprise to hear old customers' voices on the telephone once again. Business has been steady and much appreciated by our local workforce here.
I'm sure that the cost of energy and fuel has played a role in some of that business returning to the states, but I also believe the issue of inferior quality of foreign-made products, especially Chinese-made products, has also played into it.
It took a while for manufacturers that initially went overseas to realize that their products were only going to be knocked off in China and their part in the equation erased.
The backbone of this wonderful country was built on domestic manufacturing and made this country what it is today. This country wasn't built on the likes of Starbucks and Subway deli shops.
National Textile Industries/National Bias Binding Corp.
>Re: "Talent Incubators," Aug. 2008
It is wonderful to see that companies like Cargill Meat Solutions and Cascade Engineering are providing programs and education for Hispanic and unskilled workers that have enabled so many of them to assume skilled jobs, including management positions. It is especially interesting when considering your figures that highlight the aging manufacturing workforce.
Companies like these, that seek to capitalize on the rapidly growing Hispanic and existing unskilled workforce, should consider more than just providing them with language and management tools. With the proper systems in place, companies can identify where skill gaps will form when older workers retire. New members of the skilled labor force can be matched up in mentor and training relationships with existing workers to provide a seamless transition of skill from an outgoing employee to a newer one.
By training management to be multilingual, manufacturers can actively recruit from the large pool of Hispanic workers and train them to fill the voids that will be created as the proportionately larger, older set of workers reaches retirement age. Using the right system, enterprising manufacturers will be able to take advantage of the tools that will mitigate the projected drop in manufacturing employees, and ensure generations of continued success.
director, process industry and product marketing