Since December is already on the tip of everyone’s tongue, I have no qualms wishing you an early Happy Hanukah, Merry Christmas, Joyous Kwanzaa or any other blessings you may wish on these or any other holidays you may or may not celebrate. How is that for showing diversity? That said, buckle your seat belts and hold tight because today I am writing on an important subject that runs counter to diversity. Away we go….
I could do the research, but face validity alone would justify this claim: Millions of good-paying American manufacturing jobs have vanished over the last 30 years only to reappear in China, India, Vietnam, Mexico, Brazil, and a host of other countries closing fast in our rearview mirror. Here’s one possible solution among many: You and I could ask our federal legislators to create and begin heavily promoting—and I mean heavily—the crucial importance of buying American along with a website that could help Americans easily identify and purchase “Made in America” products.
For example, in August, I was in an office products store purchasing supplies for a new business venture and while in the stapler section checked product labels. Every office stapler there was made in China. Later, I searched online for an American-made stapler and learned about Staplex, which touts itself as the “World’s first and largest manufacturer of Electric Staplers since 1949.” From New York City, the company manufactures a complete line of heavy-duty, high-end, American-made electric and manual staplers.
In a Connect Business Magazine telephone interview, a Staplex company representative said, “We export our staplers all over the world and get our share of the (high-end) market. But if we had gone low-end (like all others in the stapler industry) and kept our manufacturing here, we would be out of business now because we wouldn’t have been able to compete on price. We didn’t go low-end (by manufacturing overseas) because in doing so we would have lost our supply chain and quality control and would have been unable to guarantee we could produce our products with the same quality and rapidness the market counts on us for.”
Major office supply retailers haven’t stocked Staplex electric and manual staplers for years because of its higher price and heavier weight—the latter means it can’t safely hang from a store peg, said the representative. He said many high-use businesses over the years have become frustrated with lower quality foreign-made staplers and after doing research bought Staplex.
Would I have purchased a Staplex stapler online had I known about it? In my situation: No. In my work outside Connect Business Magazine, I have a one-person mental health counseling office and don’t need a heavy-duty, high-use $135 stapler. However, many larger businesses would purchase one if made aware.
Which begs the question, Why haven’t our federal legislators already hammered home the importance of buying American and at the same time created a website featuring “Made in America” product with links to appropriate company websites?
I went online recently and discovered at least a dozen websites that list and promote American-made product. Some are for-profit while others seem to have been started by patriotic citizens lacking any sort of imagination. In general, these websites lack curb appeal—and not one I surveyed listed Staplex, the world’s leading electric stapler.
Imagine the economic ripple effect had our federal government spent just $1 billion of its $800 billion stimulus program heavily promoting over television, radio, Internet, newspaper, and magazine the importance of buying American and, while doing so, mentioning a website that sells American-made product. Readers, we Americans could turn our economy around in a matter of months if we all were sold on the absolute importance of buying American-made and adjusted our purchases accordingly. In other words, we right now have the purchasing power to control our own economic destiny.
American-made products can easily be identified. The Federal Trade Commission states, “For a product to be called Made in USA, or claimed to be of domestic origin without qualifications or limits on the claim, the product must be ‘all or virtually all’ made in the U.S….’All or virtually all’ means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of U.S. origin. That is, the product should contain no—or negligible—foreign content.”
Any “Made in America” website also could include companies making qualified claims, such as products with “70% U.S. content” or “Assembled in USA.”
On the federal level, a $1 billion—or some other substantial amount—marketing campaign could spark incremental economic growth to pull us out of recession. Is $1 billion too much to ask to salvage our economy from a tight downward spiral? Not if you consider we just spent far more than that removing Muammar Gaddafi from power.
Thanks for listening, and I hope this spurs you on to further thought. Thanks for reading southern Minnesota’s first and only locally owned business magazine. Next issue, meet our 2012 Business Person of the Year. I am sure you will agree our panel of Minnesota State University College of Business judges has chosen well.