A morning trip to the eye doctor means I can't technically see that well right now, which should make this blog post extremely interesting for everyone involved, particularly the poor soul who has to proofread this.
Anyway, so I'm working on a feature for our upcoming issue on products made in the USA, and that old Dave Mason song just kept going through my head: "There ain't no good guys, there ain't no bad guys, it's only you and me and we just disagree."
The relationship between suppliers that domestically manufacture and those who do not has taken an interesting turn over the course of the past few years.
For awhile, the free market economy had spoken. Like trained bloodhounds, distributors searching for the best, lowest price point would get it from suppliers selling imports. And though I haven't been in the industry that long, the impression I get is those suppliers who carried the "Made in the USA" label could absolutely cater to niche markets (unions, vets, maybe a red state or two), but they simply couldn't match prices (even if they were only off by a few measly cents).
Now, however, the audience looking for domestically manufactured items has evolved a bit in the face of safety and quality issues from Chinese-made products (in particular). Buying U.S.-made items was no longer the mark of an excessively nationalistic consumer. It's become a banner wielded by concerned parents, exceedingly environmentally minded individuals and even, dare I say, card-carrying left-wingers, for various reasons.
However, be that as it may, I was surprised to find the following point underlined by a few of my sources (sources who import little to nothing at all, I might add): Just because the trend has turned back toward U.S. goods, that's not to say importers are bad and their wares dangerous. There's always a bad apple in every lot--and, yes, a couple of rotten ones were unearthed recently--but suppliers, even those utilizing offshore manufacturing facilities, are collectively pushing for higher-quality products, better compliance records and more accountability from everyone.
This might mean things cost a little more, no matter where they come from. Is the onus now on distributors to choose the company that, yes, can offer a good price, but also has the value system, procedures and paperwork in place to back up their products? It's looking that way.
It might be naive, but I like to believe there are more people striving to do the right thing in this industry than those sweeping it all under the rug. So far, I've been proven correct.