Letters To The Editor For September 2008

Readers sound off on U.S. manufacturing, innovation, trade and customer service.

Rosie the Riveter Revisited

>Re: "Welcome Back U.S. Manufacturing," August 2008.

I have just read Jonathan Katz's article. I agree with every word that you wrote.

You criticized the dismantlement of American production and the transfer of it to Communist China where multinational executives acquire "quality issues," and where they face "the lack of well-trained machinists and technicians in other regions." You pointed out the most recent key issue: "cheap, overseas labor" versus "it makes sense to source back in the United States where the cost of offshoring outweighs the higher cost of labor."

The graphic on the cover of the August 2008 issue depicting the Statue of Liberty waving a wrench in her upraised right arm belongs alongside Norman Rockwells "Rosie the Riveter" cover to the Saturday Evening Post of May 29, 1943.

If ever there is a Pulitzer Prize awarded for outstanding courage by a business publication writer, in my opinion, you deserve to receive it.

Walter A. Nodelman
West Hartford, Conn.

American Dream, R.I.P.

>Re: "How to Plug Americas Innovation Gap," August 2008

Articles like this blow smoke at the real problem. If we are not producing new technological products in the United States there is no incentive to invent here. Many major companies have moved R&D close to their offshore production.

The government will only bring innovation here if it fixes our broken trade policy. A policy that rewards offshore production and offshore research has killed the American dream.

Burl Finkelstein
executive VP and general counsel
Kason Industries Inc.
Newnan, Ga.

Focus on the Customer First

>Re: "Continuous Improvement: Whats Continuous Improvement Worth?" August 2008

I believe that the focus of Ralph Keller's column is right on target. All decisions in the company should first be focused on the real impact upon the customer.

I am puzzled by the comment which indicates a negative P&L impact as a result of inventory reduction. If the reduction is simply the write down/off of excess and obsolete, I would agree. However, if the reduction is the result of a change in process or procedure by which the business actually requires less inventory to support the manufacture of its product (e.g., introduction of two-bin pull system vs. the common forecast and safety stock procedure), then I would suggest that for the period, the impact upon the P&L is actually favorable (reduced purchases to achieve a given volume of production).

That said, however, your article should be required reading for all. Improvements in the business which cannot be tracked to a benefit to the customer are mostly specious and very often counter to the actual growth and improvement of the business.

Millard Humphreys
consultant
Allison Park, Pa.

Managing By Facts

>Re: "Viewpoint: Free Trade Foes Take Aim at Wrong Target"

The American people need to hear these facts and understand them before we make a rhetoric-based decision that hurts our economy. I am a retired manager from an electric utility where we had a motto, "We manage by facts." This is the factual side of all the rhetoric we are hearing, especially in an election year.

Larry Jones
senior consultant
Turning Point Group LLC
Mooresboro, N.C.

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