IT’S HARD NOT to detect a sense of pride in the tone of business owners who manufacture domestically. The whole thing can be likened to a proud father announcing the birth of his firstborn son.
At this year’s PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, this writer marveled at the countless booths that donned the “Made in the USA” designation. From household items constructed of plastic derived from U.S.-grown corn to U.S.-manufactured T-shirts decorated with crystals, the selections were endless. Then, it suddenly made sense—despite all the hype of overseas manufacturing purported to being the wave of the future, American manufacturing continues to thrive in an industry where its presence is often considered the exception, and not the rule.
According to Mel Ellis, president of Milwaukie, Oregon-based HumphreyLine, the company opted not to go overseas, in large part, “because our product categories did not require us to,” he said. HumphreyLine manufactures a full line of plastic items, including flyers, stadium cups, pails, yo-yos and bottles, in addition to a line of personal-care items. Ellis pointed out there is little labor in the molding of plastic items, with the only labor required “in the finishing steps.” Furthermore, HumphreyLine has no interest in acquiring personal-care amenities from anywhere “other than American sources,” Ellis noted, due to the strict standards set forth by the FDA, to which overseas products are not held. He said knowing what comprises each product, which allows manufacturers to comply with regulations—such as Prop 65 (see page 34)—is a primary benefit of domestic manufacturing. And being able to control the production schedule “to accommodate sudden changes in demand” is another nod toward American manufacturing, Ellis added.
THE PRICE IS RIGHT
Yet, it’s not just a sense of pride and the assurance of a safe manufacturing process (both of which are hallmarks in themselves) that make American manufacturing a viable choice; it also has a lot to do with product pricing and quality, according to Douglas Beckwith, director of sales and marketing at Creative Modeling & Design, North Attleboro, Mass. “Soon, the advantages that Chinese manufacturers currently enjoy with regard to their operating expenses and overhead costs will ... disappear, making ‘Made in USA’ once again not just a point of pride, but a better quality and cost-comparable alternative.”