TPP in Real Life: TPP Helps California-Based Company Connect the Dots for Manufacturers

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Manufacturers throughout the United States rely on a host of services companies to help assemble, package and deliver their products domestically and around the world.

One such company is ALOM, the global contract assembly, packaging and supply chain leader headquartered in the Silicon Valley city of Fremont, California. ALOM operates out of three U.S. locations that cover the North American market, and the company also provides services from 17 locations globally.

ALOM Headquarters in Fremont, California. Photo Courtesy: ALOM

ALOM Headquarters in Fremont, California. Photo Courtesy: ALOM

ALOM procures, produces, configures and ships products for technology-rich companies in the automotive, medical, telecommunications, technology, energy/utility and other regulated industries. ALOM’s customers include Fortune 100 companies, and it is part of a $750 billion ecosystem. On the supplier side, the ecosystem includes numerous small suppliers, including many veteran- and women-owned businesses, such as Container Consulting Service Inc., which provides customized packaging containers, and Superior Staffing, which provides contract labor.

While ALOM’s customers successfully manufacture and sell products within the United States, many also export to markets around the world. ALOM and its customers benefit from trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers, set strong rules that prohibit government restrictions on the movement of data and the localization of information technology infrastructure, and make it easier to ship products due to more transparent and streamlined customs rules.

ALOM’s Global Footprint. Image Courtesy: ALOM

ALOM’s Global Footprint. Image Courtesy: ALOM

ALOM President and CEO Hannah Kain says that “TPP will aid ALOM in expanding our business into more TPP countries – beyond our growing businesses in places like Australia, Canada and Mexico – in turn enabling ALOM to support more jobs here in the United States.”

Ms. Kain adds that, “without quick access to high-quality, competitively-priced components, and the ability of our customers to access markets overseas, ALOM would have a hard time competing.” Ratification of trade agreements like the TPP will be critical as companies like ALOM seek to grow and expand their manufacturing-supporting businesses in the years ahead.

Collaborating for Supply Chain Sustainability

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This guest blog post is authored by Stewart Leeth, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, Smithfield Foods, Inc.

Food production must increase significantly to feed our world’s growing population. To ensure nutritional security, protein production must also greatly increase, which will stretch natural resources, and, if not managed correctly, could cause environmental concerns. At Smithfield Foods, we have taken a leading role to develop sustainable operating practices to reduce our natural resource demand. These practices have been developed through our robust sustainability program, which is ingrained at every level of our vertically integrated business. Our sustainability program is organized by five pillars: Animal Care, Environment, Food Safety & Quality, Helping Communities, and People. Each pillar is connected by the overarching concept of value creation for all our stakeholders.


Our sustainability program delivers on our promise to produce good food the right way while providing an organized platform to focus on key sustainability areas. Since our program’s creation more than a decade ago, we have set new goals each year that build upon previous achievements and continue to drive progress across each of our sustainability pillars. As a company with innovation ingrained in our DNA, the success of these sustainability projects are often furthered by original thinking and unprecedented techniques, such as creating a new market for grain sorghum and finding industry-leading solutions to manure management.

Speaking of innovation, two years ago, Walmart tasked all suppliers with grain operations to discover new methods for reducing fertilizer runoff that can lead to air and water quality degradation. Building on Smithfield’s commitment to the environment, we eagerly accepted the challenge and joined the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to create a more sustainable grain supply chain. Through this unlikely collaboration, we developed a program to work hand-in-hand with grain farmers and foster on-farm conservation practices. We now offer grain farmers free agronomy advice and educational resources while motivating them to adopt fertilizer optimization practices. Although we are still in the early years of this program, we foresee a bright future. Many of our grain farmers have already drastically reduced fertilizer losses while saving money and improving crop yields.  This strategy is also a huge potential cost-savings for our company, as we can grow more grain locally and reduce transportation costs.

As we reached our one-year anniversary with EDF, we earned a “best in class” recognition at Walmart’s 2014 Sustainability Expo. Last year, more than 100,000 acres of land in the
Southeast U.S. benefited from our fertilizer optimization practices, and we expect more than 450,000 acres of American smithfieldgro-program-progress-to-goalfarmlands will benefit as the program continues to expand. As a result of this program, we are on track to meet our 2018 goal to source at least 75 percent of grain from farms that use efficient fertilizer and soil health practices.

Our sustainability program continues to improve Smithfield’s overall performance and financial stability. This creates substantial value for our stakeholders and drives efficiency throughout our supply chain. Since 2004, our environmental programs alone have saved our operations more than $580 million. Together, with other industry members and manufacturers, unlikely collaborations and innovative programs will help answer food production and environmental questions for the next generation.

For more information about our sustainability program, visit To learn more about our collaboration with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), visit

TPP in Real Life: TPP Levels Playing Field for Leading U.S. Restroom Accessory Manufacturer

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If you’ve ever washed your hands or changed your child’s diaper in a public restroom, it’s likely you’ve encountered goods crafted in America by Bobrick Washroom Equipment Inc. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California since its founding in 1906, Bobrick is the world’s leading manufacturer of restroom accessories for commercial building owners, and the company markets its products under the Bobrick, Gamco and Koala Kare brands. It manufactures products in California, Colorado, New York, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Bobrick Headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Photo Courtesy: Bobrick

Bobrick Headquarters in Los Angeles, California. Photo Courtesy: Bobrick

While selling extensively throughout the United States, Bobrick has been able to grow by expanding its global focus. Bobrick exports restroom accessories to more than 100 countries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America, including all Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) countries, and has operations in the United Kingdom, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and Australia.

According to Alan Gettelman, Bobrick’s Vice President – External Affairs, “free trade agreements have lowered many of the tariff and non-tariff barriers that Bobrick has faced overseas, allowing us to improve access to these markets and increase our competitiveness. The elimination of all manufacturing tariffs under the TPP would level the playing field for our company’s exports to these countries, allowing us to boost sales of products crafted throughout the United States.”

Bobrick SureFlo Automatic Soap Dispenser. Photo Courtesy: Bobrick

Bobrick SureFlo Automatic Soap Dispenser. Photo Courtesy: Bobrick

To illustrate the importance of the TPP for Bobrick, consider the company’s SureFlo Automatic soap dispensers, which are manufactured at its Los Angeles, California facility. Imports of soap dispensers currently face duties of 24 percent in Vietnam, 5 percent in Malaysia and 5 percent in New Zealand.

As another example, Bobrick’s grab bars are manufactured in Clifton Park, New York, and face import duties of 20 percent in Vietnam, 5 percent in Malaysia and 5 percent in New Zealand.

And consider Bobrick’s Koala Kare brand baby changing stations and child seating products, which are manufactured in Denver, Colorado, and face import duties of 25 percent in Vietnam and 5 percent in New Zealand.

Finally, take Bobrick’s restroom mirrors, which are manufactured in Jackson, Tennessee and Durant, Oklahoma, and currently face duties of 34 percent in Vietnam, 30 percent in Malaysia and 5 percent in New Zealand.

Bobrick Koala Kare Baby Changing Station. Photo Courtesy: Bobrick

Bobrick Koala Kare Baby Changing Station. Photo Courtesy: Bobrick

All of these tariffs, and thousands of others, will be eliminated on U.S. manufactured goods exports when the TPP is fully implemented. Bobrick will be able to see substantial savings immediately on many of its exports to these markets, and most of the duties facing its exports will be eliminated within four years of TPP’s entry into force.

The TPP will also eliminate other discriminatory barriers faced by Bobrick and other manufacturers in the TPP countries, and will improve Bobrick’s ability to export through more transparent and streamlined customs rules. All in all, the TPP will help level the playing field for Bobrick and other manufacturers across the United States, helping U.S. manufacturing increase sales and support jobs right here at home.

Read more “TPP in Real Life” stories by clicking here.

Federal Court Rules EPA Must Consider Job Losses From Its Regs

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This afternoon, Judge John Preston Bailey of the U.S. District Court for the Northern  District of West Virginia ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unlawfully ignored its duty under Section 321 of the Clean Air Act to evaluate potential and actual job loss from its regulations. The agency has rolled out tens of billions of dollars worth of new air regulations on electric utilities, energy producers, manufacturers, vehicles and other sources, and readily admit it had not done a single one of these mandatory job loss evaluations before finalizing any of those regulations.

The purpose of requirements like Section 321 is to get better regulations, the kind that achieve their environmental goals while preserving a strong economy. And while the EPA made this promise virtually every time it issued a new regulation, the facts show that it never even bothered to do a Section 321 analysis any of those times. The court gave EPA two weeks to do a 321 job loss analysis for the coal industry, which has faced a regulatory burden heavier than perhaps any other sector over the past decade.

Manufacturers are pleased to see that EPA will now have to properly evaluate the impact of its regulations on jobs. ‎We’re disappointed that this order comes years after the regulations at issue went final — and at a time when the companies regulated have already started complying. We hope EPA will comply with the law and routinely do job loss studies for each of its major new regulations before they are proposed, to ensure a better regulatory process.


Manufacturing Production Rebounded Slightly in September, but Flat Year-Over-Year

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The Federal Reserve said that manufacturing production rebounded slightly in September, up 0.2 percent, after declining by 0.5 percent in August. The pickup in activity was expected, but even with a gain for the month, it should be noted that activity in the sector continues to be weaker than desired. Along those lines, manufacturing production was flat on a year-over-year basis, with essentially stagnant growth over the course of the past seven months. Manufacturers have struggled in their ability to increase demand, including exports, with ongoing economic and political uncertainties also dampening growth. Moreover, manufacturing capacity utilization inched up from 74.8 percent to 74.9 percent, but that remained well below the 75.5 percent utilization rate seen one year ago. Read More

TPP in Real Life: Smiths Group’s U.S. Exports Save and Protect Lives around the World

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If you have put your bags through a security screening device at airports and federal buildings or have known anyone who has needed out-patient oncology treatment then you, like hundreds of millions of other Americans, have likely benefited from the technology manufactured by Smiths Group here in the United States, without ever realizing it.

Smiths Group employs more than 8,000 people in the United States at facilities in 40 states and across five divisions – John Crane, Smiths Medical, Smiths Detection, Smiths Interconnect and Flex-Tek The company develops and applies leading-edge technology to create innovative products and solutions that range from healthcare, energy and petrochemicals to threat and contraband detection, telecommunications and equipment manufacturing. Though it’s headquartered in the United Kingdom, about a third of Smiths Group’s workforce, half of its capital base and half of its revenue are located in the United States.

Smiths Medical Headquarters in Plymouth, MN. Photo Courtesy: Smiths Group

Smiths Medical Headquarters in Plymouth, MN. Photo Courtesy: Smiths Group

While sales in the United States are important to Smiths Group, as reflected by its big investments throughout the United States, so too are sales overseas. As the company seeks to expand its U.S. production, it also is working to export around the world medical technologies that save lives, screening technologies to help governments protect their citizens and products and services that ensure communities have the energy needed to power their societies. That is why trade agreements that will eliminate foreign trade barriers and improve standards, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), are so important to Smith Group’s U.S. operations and its employees.

For example, the United States currently exports $5 billion worth of medical devices to TPP markets each year. Currently, the United States faces tariffs as high as 30 percent on certain medical devices in Malaysia. Under the TPP, the tariffs on 99.9% of U.S. exports of medical devices will be eliminated immediately, making Smiths Medical’s life-saving technologies more readily available to patients in need.

Smiths Medical’s CADD®-Solis VIP Ambulatory Infusion system. Photo Courtesy: Smiths Group

Smiths Medical’s CADD®-Solis VIP Ambulatory Infusion system. Photo Courtesy: Smiths Group

Another one of Smiths Group’s business divisions, John Crane, designs, manufactures and services a variety of products, including mechanical seals, couplings, bearings and filtration systems for industrial rotating equipment. This equipment is critical to the safety, efficiency, reliability and environmental footprint of rotating machinery.

A significant portion of John Crane revenue comes from the export of product to TPP countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam. Once the TPP is implemented, the duty savings for John Crane’s exports of these goods to TPP countries will be reinvested to improve and expand its U.S. operations.

John Crane Mechanical Seal used in Centrifugal Compressor Applications. Photo Courtesy: Smiths Group

John Crane Mechanical Seal used in Centrifugal Compressor Applications. Photo Courtesy: Smiths Group

According to Chris Swonger, SVP Global Government Relations, “TPP is a unique opportunity for companies like Smiths Group to increase sales of goods and services in overseas markets through the elimination of unnecessary tariffs. As a result of these duty savings, Smiths Group will be able to expand research and development in new technologies, supporting new jobs and manufacturing in the United States.”

The next time you put your bags through a security device or stop by the doctor’s office, take a look to see if you benefit as well from a Smiths Group product manufactured here in the United States.

Click here to read more TPP in Real Life stories.

Supreme Court Preview: The Top 10 Manufacturing Cases

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The Supreme Court’s new term began this month with only eight Justices, with prospects slim for adding a ninth in time to participate in any of the cases being argued over the next seven months. It is thus harder to get a majority of five to agree on a result, and therefore more likely that rulings already made by the lower courts will stand.

Nevertheless, oral arguments will proceed and manufacturers are concerned about ten upcoming decisions that will affect their competitiveness and ability to create jobs.

High on our priority list is Microsoft v. Baker, a class action involving the Xbox 360 console. The Court will decide whether an appeals court was correct in allowing an immediate appeal of a decision that refused to allow a group of plaintiffs to file a class action when they had already voluntarily dismissed their claims. It’s a tortured procedural issue, but will determine whether class action plaintiffs can appeal decisions that deny class certification – that is, decisions that require each plaintiff to sue individually for the damages they allege. The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action filed briefs in this case.

Another important case challenges whether the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board properly authorized thousands of complaints against companies for labor law violations. The outcome could affect decisions made by senior government officials at six other government agencies as well. See our previous blog post here for details.

Other significant cases on the docket are:

  • Samsung Electronics Co. v. Apple Inc. Apple claimed that Samsung infringed upon the patented design of Apple’s iPhone. The legal issue involves calculating damages for infringement – whether “total profit” from the infringement is calculated from sales of all the phones, or rather whether it should be some fraction of that based on the extent to which the design was used on the infringing phones.
  • Star Athletica, LLC v. Varsity Brands, Inc. The Court will explain the appropriate test to determine when the design of a useful article is protected by copyright law. Designs may be copyrighted, but “useful articles” may not.
  • SCA Hygiene Prod. v. First Quality Baby Prod. Patent owners may lose their rights if they don’t sue fast enough for infringement. The Court will clarify the doctrine of “laches” under the patent laws.
  • Venezuela v. Helmerich & Payne Int’l. A company sued Venezuela for expropriating eleven oil drilling rigs and related property, and the question is whether that government can be sued under provisions of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.
  • Life Technologies Corp. v. Promega Corp. At issue is whether supplying a single component of a patented multi-component invention violates a law prohibiting companies from supplying “all or a substantial portion of the components of a patented invention” and from inducing the combination of components overseas in a way that would infringe a patent. The Court will decide how broadly this statute should be interpreted to punish manufacturers of parts that are incorporated into others that infringe patents.
  • Visa, Inc. v. Osborn. Industry trade associations must be careful to avoid agreements in restraint of trade under the antitrust laws, and this case involves whether members of an association are deemed to have entered into an agreement merely because they agree to adhere to an association’s governance rules. The issue arose from an agreement among credit card companies and banks over fees when using automated teller machines. It could result in even stricter limits on association activities.
  • Expressions Hair Design v. Schneiderman. The government regularly compels manufacturers to say things about their products or services that are controversial, without sufficient legal justification. This case involves a law that allows different pricing for cash and credit-card transactions, but prohibits retailers from calling a credit-card differential a “surcharge.” The Court will decide whether this law violates the First Amendment because it restricts what merchants can tell their customers.
  • Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. Haeger. If a manufacturer hires trial counsel to defend a product liability case, and that counsel fails to turn over relevant documents during discovery, what sanction may a court impose on the company? In this case, the Court will decide whether the damages must be limited to the harm directly caused by the misconduct, or can be much higher, without affording the parties the protections of criminal due process.

In addition to some of these cases, the Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action has been active in others awaiting a decision whether the Court will hear the appeals. We will provide an update on those cases in another blog post shortly.

Manufacturing Sustainability Inside and Out

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This guest blog post is authored by Rob Zimmerman, Director of Marketing, Projects, Specifications & Sustainability for Kohler Company. 

Since 2008, Kohler has worked to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and waste to landfill with a goal of reaching “Net Zero” (with offsets) by 2035. This has become a springboard for innovation throughout the company.

We use Life Cycle Inventory (LCI), a product modeling tool, to evaluate a product’s lifetime environmental impact. LCIs look at supplier operations, Kohler operations, consumer use and end-of-life.

kohler-highline-1-0Because up to 80 percent of a product’s lifetime environmental impact is locked in during early stage development, we incorporate Design for Environment (DfE) principles in each phase of new product development.

These principles help us take a step back and evaluate the environmental impact of a product from raw material extraction through manufacturing, packaging, use and to its ultimate end via recycling, repurposing or disposal. Our recently released Highline 1.0 is the result of 10 years of performance evaluations, design tweaks and discovery. Kohler engineers discovered a way to more precisely target the flow of water into the bowl so that only one gallon of water is needed per flush. Relatively small design adjustments to the tank, bowl and trapway have reduced water use by 38 percent compared to a traditional 1.6 gallon per flush toilet.

We’ve also found opportunities to improve manufacturing sustainability in unexpected places.

In an LCI evaluation at our Reynosa, Mexico, facility, we discovered a way to reduce GHG emissions. In Reynosa, it’s common for daytime temperatures to reach 100 degrees Fahrenheit during the four-month warm season. When the facility’s electric cooling units were due for replacement, associates explored more sustainable options and learned the area has the world’s largest reservoir of natural gas.

The team seized the opportunity to replace electric air conditioners with natural gas cooling units. As a result, the Reynosa facility increased energy efficiency and is saving millions of pounds in GHG emissions annually, while also making the facility more comfortable for employees.

In another example, Kohler cast iron engineers saved 6,200 tons of pouring-molten-ironiron from being melted each year. In production of one of our most popular bath tubs, molten iron is poured through “sprues” into the mold. Excess iron remains in the sprues, cools and solidifies. This excess iron is punched out to release the finished bathtub from the line. Our equipment required large sprues and, therefore, a large amount of extra iron, to function properly. The unused iron was eventually reused, but substantial energy was used in re-melting it.

Cast iron engineers upgraded to new equipment that could function with sprues 20 pounds smaller than the original. This saves 80 pounds of iron per bathtub. Overall, the upgrade reduced iron melting requirements by over 13 percent, energy use for the transfer of molten iron by 20 percent, and losses due to cracked bathtubs by nearly 50 percent.

These are just a few examples of how we’re making manufacturing changes that reduce our company’s environmental impact from product design to the end of the product’s useful life.

TPP in Real Life: Subaru’s Indiana Business Booms in an Interconnected Global Economy

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Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. (SIA) first broke ground in Lafayette, Indiana more than 29 years ago and is the home of Subaru’s North American production. Models built at SIA’s Lafayette, Ind., plant include the Subaru Legacy and Outback. Later this year, production of the Impreza will be moved to the Lafayette facility from Japan, where SIA’s parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (FHI), is headquartered. Even more exciting, an as-yet-unnamed three-row crossover vehicle will be added at SIA in 2018.

Subaru of Indiana Automotive Facility in Lafayette, Indiana. Photo Courtesy: SIA

Subaru of Indiana automotive facility in Lafayette, Ind. Photo Courtesy: SIA

SIA has seen rapid growth in its Indiana vehicle manufacturing in recent years, with production expected to exceed 340,000 vehicles in 2016, an increase of nearly 40,000 vehicles compared to the prior year. To meet and accelerate this rapid growth, SIA has invested more than $1.3 billion over the past four years to prepare for Impreza production and expand its Lafayette facility, including expanding capacity in its engine and body shops and building a second paint shop.

Subaru Impreza Manufactured in Lafayette, Indiana Starting in November. Photo Courtesy: SIA

Subaru Impreza will be manufactured in Lafayette, Ind., starting in November. Photo Courtesy: SIA

SIA’s Lafayette facility employs more than 5,400 associates, and the company has added more than 1,300 associates in the past year to support the production of new models and growth. These job increases in turn support the broader Lafayette and Indiana economy. New jobs created by SIA have a multiplier of 11.4, meaning that for every job created by SIA, more than 11 other jobs are created in other Indiana businesses, according to 2010 estimates by the Center for Automotive Research.

As an automaker operating in the global economy, free and fair trade is essential to SIA’s operations. In the past, SIA has exported vehicles to more than 52 countries in a single year. During the past five years, nearly 62,000 vehicles built at SIA have been exported to other countries, including more than 53,000 vehicles shipped to Canada. Due to the high demand for the Legacy and Outback in the United States, SIA currently only exports to two other countriesMexico and Colombiaplus Puerto Rico. However, with expansion and new models, SIA exports are expected to grow.

According to SIA Senior Executive Vice President Tom Easterday, “SIA strongly supports efforts to establish free and fair trade between the United States and its most significant trading partners, including through agreements such as the TPP. As our track record demonstrates, SIA’s exportation of vehicles to global markets clearly supports the creation of manufacturing jobs in Indiana, and we’re excited about the further job growth SIA and our suppliers have experienced due to the upcoming start of production of the new Impreza here in the United States.”

Read more from the “TPP in Real Life” series here.


Supreme Court Preview: Hundreds of NLRB Complaints Are at Risk

By | Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action, Shopfloor Legal, Shopfloor Main | No Comments

An unusual statutory restraint on the appointment process for the general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is at the heart of a significant case about to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States. The provision is part of the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998. The court will decide whether Lafe Solomon, a long-serving NLRB official and former acting general counsel of the board for several years, could actually serve as acting general counsel in the face of statutory language prohibiting such service if he was nominated to be general counsel but had not served long enough as first assistant general counsel.

It’s a technical provision with a “notwithstanding” clause that has caused all the confusion. That clause only refers to one subsection of the law, but the rest of the statutory language refers to the entire section. A federal appeals court ruled that Solomon was prohibited from serving as acting general counsel after his nomination and that the unfair labor practice complaint that was issued on his authority was invalid.

The NLRB issues more than 1,200 complaints each year, so thousands of decisions were made by the general counsel or those to whom he delegated decision-making authority from January 5, 2011, to November 4, 2013. This challenge could allow many of those cases to be revisited.

But the case will have an impact on many other federal agencies, arguably going back to 1998. In April, the administration warned the Supreme Court that “Decisions of many former acting officers, including senior officers in the HHS Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, DOJ, DOT, Department of Defense, the Export-Import Bank and General Services Administration could be open to question under the court of appeals’ reasoning. Moreover, the decision below casts a cloud over the service of about half a dozen current acting high-level officers, including in the DOT, HHS, EPA and OPM.”

The Manufacturers’ Center for Legal Action is on the front lines challenging a variety of NLRB actions that skew policy and law against manufacturers in the United States. We look forward to oral arguments at the court on November 7 and a decision thereafter.