Sunday, November 12, 2006

Bringing Manufacturing Back To America by Walt Barrett

In 1995 I retired, and six months later I was bored out of my mind! So I started the process of deciding what I could do for a new business because everyone knows that you don't hire a sixty-two year old that is virtually ready for the slagheap according to the new American business Standards. I couldn't buy a decent job! It's really fun to be interviewed by a twenty-eight year old "Human Resource Person" who treats you like you are already laid out for viewing! Then you get the inevitable code words, "Your really overqualified for the job." In business speak that means "your really too old to work here with our young geniuses that know everything about everything, but can't get to work on time!" This is one of the main reasons why people in my category start their own businesses. We get tired of the insulting interviews, and just being a number in a big corporation that really doesn’t treat you like a “human resource” at all. So having said all that to define my personal reasons, and get it off my chest, let's get down to the nuts and bolts of what I see in the not so distant future.
You are probably thinking "why is this guy talking about bringing manufacturing back to America when he makes his living from China and India?" Well, as Elvis said to his many leading ladies in every single one of his movies "Please let me explain!" After contacting many USA manufacturers and distributors of the type of products that I wanted to sell, I found it impossible to purchase these products at a reasonable or competitive wholesale price basis. In many cases we were totally locked out of the market due to agreements between the manufacturers, and the retailers. That is the short version of why I went into importing. I simply had no choice.
Now, why do we have to bring manufacturing back to the good old USA? The simple answer is because we need the jobs, and most importantly, the security! (If world war three started tomorrow we would be totally screwed!) In the long run, the job situation could resolve itself, but that would be a very painful process, and could take many years. It would not solve our grave security problems.
We know that many US companies fled our country because of unions, and our "inconsiderate" government wouldn't let them pollute our rivers and atmosphere here, and “regulated them to death.” Their solution was to flee to China,(virtually unregulated pollution wise) and help China grow their giant economy to the point where they practically own the twenty-first century. We were told that our new global economy was a "good thing" and that we "had to do it" if we were to remain a "World Power." So we sacrificed untold thousands of small and medium sized business and God only knows how many jobs. So go tell the unemployed that the new economy is "good for us." The real truth is that it's only good for big business, and the guys who receive the campaign contributions from big business! The rest of us little guys have been forced to go along with the big guys, and pick up the crumbs because we cant afford the campaign contributions (legal bribes), and do the best we can to support our families. In the long run, the only thing that free trade will do is to lower the standard of living for the working, and middle classes in the USA. Free trade is just business speak for non-regulation and child labor.
There are only two ways to break the cycle. One way is to wait until there are so many unemployed that there isn't enough money left in the economy to purchase even the cheapest of foreign goods. Many economists would tell you that will never happen. Well maybe they weren’t alive like I was in the nineteen thirties. It wasn't fun! There was never enough food and we nearly froze to death in the winter. I find it interesting, and very sad that here in New England we have many people living under those same circumstances again. It seems we never learn. If you want to know the future just look back. We just keep making the same mistakes over and over. If we only had the money, and the talented people we wasted on “excursions” to other countries. Is it really our job to “save the world?”
Well now it is time to start looking at solutions to the problem. I don't think we can depend on the government to solve the problem. I think it is up to us private individuals to bring the jobs back to America because I don’t think we can regulate them back.
There are several other reasons to manufacture your new products here. First of all you can maintain much better control of your quality, and you better do that if you want to survive. Secondly, if you send a new product to China you can bet that within a year there will be a hundred other companies in China building it, and underselling you, and you wont be able to stop them! Employees desert their employers there every day and take millions of dollars in ideas and new business with them. Everyone in China wants to start his or her own business, one way or the other, and there are practically no business ethics at all among their entire business community. We once had a company there take a multimillion-dollar order and cut us right out of it. I have never been lied to by so many people so often, it's worse than the USA at election time!
Ok, enough bellyaching, this is my solution. We have started manufacturing some products in the USA on our own. We could not have started this project without the money that we made from the import business. Now it’s time to put some of it back into our own economy. Yes, it is going to cost us more for our labor, but I have found that there is an offsetting factor, which is the cost of shipping from China and India, and also the fees charged by the customs agents to do the related paperwork. Then there is the trucking from the ports to the final destination. If you take all of these factors into consideration, the prospects of success are excellent. Of course, you also have to have a high quality, reasonably price product that is going to be in demand by a lot of consumers.
Our first products are solar water pumping systems and straight vegetable oil fuel processors for diesel engine dual fuel conversion. Interestingly enough, we are exporting these products. It seems that most other countries are more interested in alternate energy than our country is at the present time.
We are going to continue to seek out new and interesting products that we can manufacture in the USA. An interesting sidelight is that we still have to buy certain components in China and India because they are simply not available here, and we can’t afford to set up to build them yet, but we will in the future.
In closing I would like to say that we feel that it is our duty to make as many of our products as possible here in the USA. I personally don’t think we should depend on the government to do anything about cheap imports because too many giant corporations (The current real owners of our government) won’t let them. It’s up to us as usual! I would like to comment that although we have a great many problems in our country that I have not found a better place in which to live yet. As a United States Air Force veteran of the Korean War I consider myself a very patriotic person. I’m just getting tired of the bullshit!

* As an added note, I would like to comment that the recent "blood Bath" in the November elections just bears out what I have to say. The American people are tired of the con jobs, and self serving crap the politicians are handing out!

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