Report from America: ISPA – Orlando, Florida

By November 10, 2006Report from America

Report from AmericaWe’re safely back from the sunny climes of Orlando, Florida, where the International Sleep Products Association rolled out the red carpet of hospitality, suffering through the blogger-in-chief’s remarks without anyone nodding off. A first.

We were preceded by Dr. James F. Smith, an economist and professor at University of North Carolina’s Flagler School of Business. He was great and insightful, rattling off some pretty bullish facts about the economy, nothing that the economy doesn’t get much better than it is at this moment. His handout was entitled, “The Near-Term Global Outlook is Terrific,” noting, “as usual, the media misreport economic conditions.” On the topic of “offshoring” (he noted that “outsourcing” really describes the typical contracting out of, e.g., HR and administrative functions), he said that the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that in 2004, approximately 42,000 jobs — out of about 150,000,000 — were “offshored.” According to the Organization for International Investment (OFII), over 5 million people in the US are directly employed by companies headquartered outside the US. Overall, a very bullish assessment of the economy by Dr. Smith. He really hammered away on productivity, where we lead the world. It is a measurement often overlooked by the media, but is critically important to our competitiveness and our wealth creation and standard of living.

We followed with our spiel and these slides, laying out the picture for manufacturing — who we are, our challenges and the road ahead.

In any event, as a big end user of the product, it was great to be among the sleep products manufacturers. Dick Doyle runs a first-rate organization and is blessed with some great leadership like past chair David Orders of Park Place Corp. and current chair Kerry Tramel of Lady Americana. We did a panel on trade issues in the afternoon with Dick and Richard Diamonstein of Comfort Solutions. There were some tales in that room of some pretty flagrant intellectual property and trademark violations by China, and a sense that there’s a need for some stepped-up enforcement by the US in this important area. We told them about the NAM counterfeiting toolkit, and steered them in that direction.

So thanks again to the folks who make all the stuff we use every day, to rest our weary bodies at day’s end, for some hospitality and some interesting give and take. And no, there’s no truth to the canard that your mattress doubles its weight every ten years, but a Wall Street Journal got the ball rolling on that one, and it’s been hard to stop.

In any event, when you hit your mattress tonight, don’t forget to thank America’s manufacturers.