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What Is American Made & Why It Matters

Historically there has been a lot of hype around this topic, but there is a heightened awareness in recent years, which has drawn more attention to this subject now more than ever. This is mostly due to on-shoring by major manufacturers, the US Government with SelectUSA and STEM programs, and all of the issues we face with counterfeiting and sub-par products.

Almost every day I come across an article or look at a label that says, “Made in USA” or “American made.” Products I see with the Made in USA label range anywhere from batteries, hand tools, and hardware, to outdoor furniture and household appliances, to groceries and dog food — not to mention the Made in USA mandate for many government-driven programs. This is similar to every time I communicate with my wife and kids, because whenever there is a lot of talk there are also a lot misunderstandings, misstatements, and misconceptions.

What exactly is American made ?
If we want to get technical, American made can mean many things. Is it South American made? North American made? Is it made in Mexico? What is it?

What exactly is made in USA?
According to a document from the Federal Trade Commission, a product is made in the USA if it is “all or virtually all” made in the USA. What does “all or virtually all” mean? That phrase “means that all significant parts and processing that go into the product must be of US origin. That is, the product should contain no — or negligible — foreign content.” My interpretation is that, most importantly, you be honest. If it is made in the USA with domestic and imported components, say so. If it is manufactured in the USA and packaged in Mexico, say so. If it is designed and assembled in the USA but manufactured in China, say so.

Now on to the heart of the subject, why does it matter? Why should I care? I just want the best price … It matters more than we accept.

Why it matters

1. The manufacturing powerhouse After WWII, the US was almost 50% of the global economy, bringing manufacturing to its peak. During America's manufacturing peak we produced 80% of the world's automobiles. Almost all of the products we used were manufactured in the US. We manufactured steel, textiles, furniture, planes, appliances and shoes, to name a few. Well, since 2001 more than 56,000 factories have left the US. Now, I am not suggesting every single product we use needs to be manufactured here in the US, but we need to be and remain the world's manufacturing powerhouse.

2. Manufacturing employs people — At its height, US manufacturing employed more than 19 million people. Over the last couple of decades, along with losing our factories, we have lost our jobs. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), manufacturing in the US currently employs just over 12 million people. Although losing more than 7 million jobs is alarming, what is more alarming is that, unlike the service sector, for every manufacturing job there are approximately 1.6 jobs created.

For example, in the recently released film, The American Made Movie, we see the Louisville Slugger, an American made product supporting a great American tradition. In order to create one baseball bat there are: loggers to cut trees, truck drivers to deliver them to the mill, mill workers to create billets, truck drivers to deliver them to the factory to manufacture the bats, marketers to market them and retailers to sell them. Manufacturing employs people.

3. Manufacturing keeps the US competitive — According to the NAM review of National Science Foundation reports, manufacturers in the US perform two-thirds of all private sector R&D in the nation, driving more innovation than any other sector. Our engineers, techs, and science professionals keep us abreast of technologies, advancements, and developments.

What are your thoughts? Does it matter to you? Does it matter enough to consider change? Keep an eye out for my next article on why it should matter to you.

21 comments on “What Is American Made & Why It Matters

  1. t.alex
    August 12, 2014

    My job came across of many parts “made in USA” but COO is harder to define that just what being labeled. For ex, one chair has several parts but each part were actually made from different country such as China, Mexcico, etc…However it was put together in USA therefore it was defined as made in USA. I agree with the writer that America should try to encourage manufactures come back to the US. Tesla made a big move by opening a factory making their own batteries.

  2. Daniel
    August 13, 2014

    “If we want to get technical, American made can mean many things. Is it South American made? North American made? Is it made in Mexico? What is it?”

    John, thanks for this interesting blog. So made is US means all components has to me literally made with in US. No importing and assembling will get cover under the purview of Made in US.

  3. Daniel
    August 13, 2014

    “However it was put together in USA therefore it was defined as made in USA. I agree with the writer that America should try to encourage manufactures come back to the US. Tesla made a big move by opening a factory making their own batteries.”

    Alex, under John's definition such assembling wont comes under the purview of “Made in USA” tag

  4. prabhakar_deosthali
    August 13, 2014

    In an open world economy scenario, it is unfair for any country to expect that its nationals use only the products made in that country.

     

    While there is national pride to use products made in one's own country, the business economics has driven many a businessmen to look for cheaper alternatives for components, services and many times the complete products which are available elsewhere in the world.

    So the only way a brand like “Made in USA” can survive , if it offers quality products at globally competitive prices.

     

  5. SunitaT
    August 13, 2014

    A product can be “Made in USA” but what about the tag that says “Made in USA”? It can be manufactured anywhere and then incorporated in USA on the product. The point is that trading is complicated, and this samll tag generates enough interest in the end user. Most people who have suffered the waves ofblack market electronics in South East Asia wouldn't like to buy something that was “Made in China” or “Made in India”.

  6. SunitaT
    August 13, 2014

    @t.alex: Yes. That is true. Trading laws are complicated and they should be, to maintain market equivalency throughout the world. If a company hires a third party developer to make somthing that is to be used in a smartphone, the third party developer wouldn't include its name on the part, if it's not that big of a company. How would you feel if you could see Gorilla Glass trademarked Samsung on every iPhone? So, third party developers dont include their name on the parts they put in devices, but they make the same other parts with their tag if a device gets some faults and it is sent for repairing.

  7. JohnACE
    August 13, 2014

    Yes, this can be a complicated subject. I am not an attorney but @t.alex I believe an accurate claim for the chair would be, “assembled in the USA of foreign parts”. That is just my opinion without knowledge of any further details.

    For clarification you can visit our website at http://OnlyOneACE.com. In the footer you will find a link to the FTC's “Made in USA Standard”.

    @prabhakar_deosthali: I completely agree with you. It is unrealistic to expect people to only use products made in their relative countries. It not just about price, sometimes the materials necessary to produce certain products are not even available.

    There is price, quality and delivery. It is extremely rare to realize the best of all three. Our efforts are so customers have a space where they can explore and know the “made in USA” option is available.

     

     

  8. Ariella
    August 13, 2014

    @JohnAce yes, I've seen labels that say “assembled in the USA of foreign parts.” 

  9. ahdand
    August 14, 2014

    @Ariela: Well these days everything get done in china. I do not see anything wrong in it but there should be some procedures strictly implemented on it because of the pirated equipment. 

  10. Daniel
    August 14, 2014

    “I completely agree with you. It is unrealistic to expect people to only use products made in their relative countries. It not just about price, sometimes the materials necessary to produce certain products are not even available.”

    John, what will happen if all countries put such restrictions (made in same country including spare etc). Then companies have to either limit their operations to limited countries or start their own facility in all countries. It's a pathetic situation and I feel such conditions have to be limited to defence or national security products. Then what's the need and scope of globalization.

  11. SP
    August 18, 2014

    Sorry to say that USA must have started doing this many years ago. First they allwed everything Made in China and now when things are getting out of hand they are trying to bring manufacturing back to AMerica. You go to any American store where bulk population goes, its almost impossible to find anything made in USA. Every country must encourage locally buit products otherwise in long run they are bound to bear the repurcussions in economy. Someone mentioned to me few years back that China has more AMerican dollars than America :-).

  12. Daniel
    August 19, 2014

    “You go to any American store where bulk population goes, its almost impossible to find anything made in USA. Every country must encourage locally buit products otherwise in long run they are bound to bear the repurcussions in economy. Someone mentioned to me few years back that China has more AMerican dollars than America :-).”

    SP, that's Chinas capability, you have to look in to such issues from other angles like how they grow as a industrial hub and how they attract companies.

  13. Daniel
    August 19, 2014

    “Well these days everything get done in china. I do not see anything wrong in it but there should be some procedures strictly implemented on it because of the pirated equipment. “

    Nimantha, that's user concerns. If you want you can but otherwise leave it.

  14. Adeniji Kayode
    August 19, 2014

    I agree with you on that. The tag “Made in USA” should among many things mean quality. Somehow, that is the world expectation.

  15. Adeniji Kayode
    August 19, 2014

    I feel that is an honest tag, most of the time, items are made somewhere and assembled somewhere else. While this may not necessarily affect the quality of the item, most consumers would prefer “made in ………….”

  16. Adeniji Kayode
    August 19, 2014

    You are right on that, but almost all items that carries” made in China” seems to be cheap and less in quality and sometimes an imitation, that is why items made in China get assembled somewhere else.

  17. Daniel
    August 20, 2014

    “You are right on that, but almost all items that carries” made in China” seems to be cheap and less in quality and sometimes an imitation, that is why items made in China get assembled somewhere else.”

    Adeniji, quality depends up on price. Is it possible to get a high quality device at a low cost; impossible?

  18. Daniel
    August 20, 2014

    “I feel that is an honest tag, most of the time, items are made somewhere and assembled somewhere else. While this may not necessarily affect the quality of the item, most consumers would prefer “made in ………….””

    Adeniji, in my view, am not bother about all these facts. I bother about whether it satisfies the price; I mean quality matches with prices. I cannot expect IPhone standard or quality from a $100 worth Chinese Smartphone.

  19. Adeniji Kayode
    August 22, 2014

    @ Jacob, You are right, the china products offer more features for less price but with less quality too but then do you think majority of the people care.

  20. Daniel
    August 25, 2014

    “You are right, the china products offer more features for less price but with less quality too but then do you think majority of the people care.'

    Adeniji, it depends up on which segment of customers they are targeting. Daily wages or weaker section peoples look only for affordability, mid segment peoples look for functionality and at the same time executives level people's looks for quality and brand.

  21. mobileHman
    May 12, 2016

    FYI – Although it is best known for it use in Samsung smartphones, Gorilla Glass is a Corning product.

    www dot corninggorillaglass dot com/en/videos/85

     

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