Manufacturing chiefs are increasingly eager, however, to expand U.S. production for a variety of reasons, ranging from the relative improvement in domestic labor costs compared with places like China, to the fact that only highly skilled American workers can handle some manufacturing tasks now; to the relatively weak dollar; to the reward that many brands still get from American consumers when goods are stamped “Made in the USA.”
“Being able to brand something ‘Made in the USA’ is an important thing that consumers really do pay attention to, and it’s a big part of the consideration set of a lot of CEOs for moving back to America or making it here in the first place,” Dick Sheehy, director of advanced planning and site selection for CH2M Hill, told CEO Manufacturing Briefing. “Even middle-class consumers in China now are preferring ‘made-in-the-USA’ and are willing to pay the higher costs.”
An impact also is being made by local companies that have succeeded, such as WeatherTech, a Chicago-area maker of digitally measured, premium-priced automotive floor mats. Founder and owner David MacNeil ponied up $4 million for the $400-million-plus company to tout its domestic-manufacturing message in a Super Bowl TV ad last February.
Another big enabler of the made-in-America “movement” is Shinola, a Detroit-based company that makes watches and other fashion accessories. Last year, the company came up with a “Makers Monday” campaign for consumers to buy American on the first day after Thanksgiving. It also encourages consumers to share their spending pledge—and, later, their American-made purchase—on their social networks.