What is in this article?:
- US Manufacturing Needs a Brand Makeover
- The Changing Face of U.S. Manufacturing
While Americans are proud of the quality of our products, many have a far different perception of manufacturing jobs. They see manufacturing as “dead,” lacking opportunities or challenges, and even as dirty or “undesirable” work. They’re blind to the reality that today’s manufacturing jobs blend design with technology and robotics, and many pay extremely well.
Eileen Markowitz is the president of Thomas Industrial Network
When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone believed that United States manufacturers made the greatest products in the world. From our home appliances to our cars, we all chose Made in America products for their quality and their value. No other country put as much pride, innovation, and workmanship into their design, and looking elsewhere wasn’t even an option.
U.S. manufacturing was a flagship of our economy, and nothing could knock it from its pedestal -- or so we thought.
Of course, the sentiment has changed since then as the economy has grown more global, and countries like China compete on price. But the pendulum is swinging back -- or should I say forward -- as Made in America quality once again becomes a status symbol for consumers and a competitive advantage for manufacturers here at home.
My company recently conducted its annual Industry Market Barometer® survey of U.S. manufacturers on the growth and outlook of the industrial sector as well as strategies companies are employing to get there. The findings confirm this transformation.
In the end, we heard from more than 1,600 manufacturers, and nearly eight out of 10 of them indicated that they expect growth this year.
By standing behind their Made in America quality, these manufacturers are even taking back business from the Chinese. They’re borrowing a page from the playbook of The Rodon Group of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, an injection molder of small plastic parts. A few years ago, when they sensed Chinese competitors gaining ground, Rodon launched an online “Cheaper than China” campaign to focus on their American manufacturing values. Within two years, their sales jumped more than 30%.
These companies never lost sight of the glory of American manufacturing, and now the world is coming to share their point of view.
Our research shows that U.S. manufacturers are entering new markets, expanding into new regions, and increasing their exports. With their gears fully in motion, American companies are looking to hire more workers to meet new market demand.
And that’s where this engine of economic growth suddenly starts to sputter.
Our research supports what we are all seeing every day: Despite an unemployment rate of close to 8%, manufacturing jobs are going unfilled. Nearly half of our respondents want to bring in line workers, skilled trade workers, and engineers. But the people who are qualified for these jobs are either untrained, or uninterested.
This is a symptom of a larger problem. Despite the resurging interest in U.S. products, American manufacturing is in need of a brand makeover.