Yes, the United States Still Makes Things

By May 27, 2010Economy, Trade

A round of applause for Patrick McKenna, vice president of Nevada Heat Treating, Inc., guest posting at the Speaking of Precision blog, “Nothing Is Made In The U.S. Anymore-FALSE!” Drawing on the NAM’s “Facts about Modern Manufacturing” he cites facts and figures about U.S. manufacturing, concluding:

Is the U.S. manufacturing sector still facing challenges? Yes

Has China gained market share of the global manufacturing sector? Yes

Does U.S. manufacturing face increased pressure from legislation? Yes

The U.S. manufacturing industry has challenges like every other business sector, but to the people who say that manufacturing has disappeared, I would offer the following quote…

“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.”– Mark Twain

NAM President John Engler touched on the theme in a May 4 speech in Palm Beach to Managing Automation’s Progressive Manufacturing Summit. Excerpt:

Too many of our most influential public figures lack a solid grasp of U.S. industry.

Last week, two great American cultural icons on CNN: Larry King interviewing Donald Trump.

The two wound up talking about the U.S. manufacturing economy, and Trump had some very harsh things to say about China. The Donald said China is “eating our lunch.”

Larry King asked him what he meant. Trump responded, and I quote, “Well, they make all our products. We’re not manufacturing anything.”

We’re not manufacturing anything…

Everybody’s marching these days. The Tea Party protesters are marching against big government and federal debt. Labor unions are marching against Wall Street. Immigrant groups are marching against Arizona’s new law.

So I propose that we all get up and march three miles north and see if Donald Trump is in residence at his Lago a Mar Country Club – maybe he’s on the golf course – so we can tell him, “Donald…you’re fired.”

Because you’re wrong about American manufacturing.

Right here in this room we have men and women whose companies prove that the United States still makes thing, and that our manufacturers are innovative, productive leaders in global manufacturing.

That leadership is exemplified by the honorees on the PM 100 list. I’m proud to say many are represented on the NAM’s board of directors.

Just a few examples…and I did have to limit them.

Belden Brick in Ohio manufactures permeable pavers …bricks that control runoff by allowing the water to be soaked into the ground. This is a company with its own natural gas wells to help it control its energy costs. Now that’s energy security!

Cummins Power Generation recently launched a new product line of low-range generator sets with great performance and a small environmental footprint.

And, Cummins last week reported strong growth in profits, because of growing exports of its products to emerging markets like… China.

Emerson Electric has a great new advertising campaign that plays off the slogan, “Never been done before.”

One product it promotes is “Emerson’s digital scroll compressor technology …” that helps ensure the reliable, refrigerated transport of some or all of the 37 billion pounds of bananas Dole ships annually,

And ArvinMeritor — here’s a company that was hit hard by the downturn of the U.S. auto industry.

Yet last month, Chip McClure was able to announce the company’s successful rebound. How did ArvinMeritor do it?

By eliminating waste, focusing on profitable product lines, and always investing in engineering and R&D.

I’ll quote the remarks Chip made in Detroit:

“You can’t trade off the future by under-cutting innovation,” Chip said. “We have a keen focus on improving fuel efficiency, safety, durability and offering products and technologies that provide our customers with the lowest cost of ownership.”

I have no doubt that Chip’s philosophy of innovation and investment is part of the DNA of every company being honored today.  These companies, and so many others, are truly “seizing the future.”

The truth is, the United States remains by far and away the world’s largest manufacturing economy, producing between $1.6 trillion and $1.7 trillion of value-added products s every year. Until the recession hit in 2008, we were setting records annually of manufacturing output.

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