When Factories Vanish, So Can Innovators

No more flatware made in the U.S. Ditto stainless steel rebars, vending machines, incandescent light bulbs, cellphones, laptop computers, and on and on.

Like George Carlin used to say; “We can’t make a VCR worth a f*ck anymore but we can bomb the shit out of your country.”

Like George Carlin used to say; “We can’t make a VCR worth a f*ck anymore but we can bomb the shit out of your country.”

Probably not for long. There isn’t a US military aircraft aloft that isn’t using Japanese/Taiwanese/Korean manufactured electronics and LCD screens. I really wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that we use Chinese components in them…

Besides, we don’t need flatware. . .

scrotom: Great article. Thanks for sharing.

I’ve noticed this too. I don’t have the courage for entrepreneurship, but I do have ideas about new products. When I start to think through the difficulty of bringing them to market due to the limited manufacturing abilities near me, it’s disheartening.

Luckily, Montreal is still a good place to be. Some casting companies, lots of plastic molding companies, aluminum extruders, wood shops around. I don’t think that Phoenix or Tampa (previous residences) offered the variety of manufacturers available to me here.

Funny, when you go to the website of Sherrill Manufacturing, the company profiled in the article, the first thing they tout is their manufacturing space. :open_mouth:

the first thing they tout is their manufacturing space. > :open_mouth:

They are touting their available manufacturing space because the new owners intent is to provide manufacturing and warehousing facilities to North American manufacturers regardless of the “industry”.

1,090,0o0 square feet on 94 acres.

Give it another decade, and a lot of this stuff will be back. You can see signs of it already in the furniture industry. Prices in China are going up rapidly, and fuel costs aren’t going anywhere but up, so container shipping is getting more expensive. And a lot of the wood that goes into furniture is harvested in the US and Canada, so it gets shipped both ways.

We’re already very close to the crossover point on cost. The only thing slowing it down is the lack of good modern furniture factories over here, and that’s true in a lot of other industries too. A lot of our manufacturing infrastructure is either gone completely or dates back to the 50s. As people invest in capacity here, things are going to change.

Scott: I think so too. It seems that what is stalled is the ability to deploy the capital to rebuild that capacity. As it becomes more profitable, the capital will come back.

One problem with that assumption is that there will be a next low-cost manufacturing region. Eastern Europe is begging to be considered and they might well supply all of EurAsia in another decade or two. South America is begging to be the Americas’ base. I wish manufacturing would return to the US at its once great capacity but we have become lazy in general and we’ve come to expect too much from too little. Our political system and our union approaches have contributed to the loss of our once great Industrial Revolution. Furniture and large appliances have the best chance of majority return but part of that is shipping quotient and in furniture’s case, it’s a matter of raw materials.

I have been betting (hoping?) on the green revolution spurring a series of industries that the US can dominate but so far the Chinese have obtained the lion’s share of both solar equipment manufacturing and wind generation manufacturing. Not good news for the USofA, folks.

It will soon be time for us to work harder and expect longer periods for ROI while starting to think long term instead of basing everything on this quarter’s profit margins.

The NY Times column reminded me of another article a few years ago by the same writer about companies that are still making products in the U.S.

Coincidentally, one of those profiled was Gene Haas (whose CNC machines I love dearly). He was later arrested, sentenced to two years in prison, and ordered to pay $75 million for tax evasion. :laughing:

Gasp!!! No more instant gratification??? No more being able to ride on the coat tails of my Union’s policies? No more SUVs, ATVs and cabin’s on the lake obtained by overextending my mortgage beyond the realistic means of my income?

Man…I was born 20 years too late.