What Happened To Manufacturing In The USA

Whatever happened to manufacturing in the USA? Is it dead, is it dying, is it thriving, is it relevant? These are all good questions, and, depending on where you live and what your background is, the answer can vary a lot.

In the Midwest, for example, the general population is more accustomed to having large factories nearby with the opportunity for entry level factory jobs as well as skilled injection mold making, engineering and sales jobs available. This is not the case in other parts of the country, such as in rural New England, where manufacturing barely exists.

The small town I use to live in, Galesville, Wisconsin, population 1,182, had some 5 companies that all had either injection mold makers or tool-and-die makers working. In Vermont there are not even 5 such companies in the entire state! Why is that? I really don’t know, but it has a lot to do with the type of people who settle in an area and the politics of the economy.

The entire area around Galesville had mold making and tool-and-die shops. Nearby is Winona, Minn., with another 15 high quality companies making anything from chains to buckets, to stamping dies to injection molds. Possibly it has to do with the fact that the upper midwest was settled by Germans, Scandinavians, Poles and various other northern Europeans. These immigrants brought their skills and work ethic with them, plus an intense desire to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Is outsourcing to blame

Surely the flood of work that went to China has had a huge impact on the lack of manufacturing in the country. If you could see a color coded map of the world and see a stream of color going from various countries to China I think it would be quite shocking.

Now, with the fact that a lot of companies are reshoring their work from cheap suppliers, such as China or Thailand, a great deal of work is returning to the country. This is for a variety of reasons, two of which are low quality and proprietary security.

Security issues

Imagine for a moment that you think everybody in the world is basically the same when it comes to values such as honesty. You could agree, shake hands and then believe that the other party would do as they promised. Not so fast there. It is just not the case.

This was hard for me to understand initially, but two Egyptian friends of mine set me straight. You see, other places regard the truth not so much as an absolute, but dependent on how much it promotes or protects their family and clan. So, you might think they agree on something, and for all appearances they do, but in reality, it all depends on how it works to their advantage.

I also read the same thing in the interesting book by Rober Baer, “Sleeping with the devil”. In this book he explains that Americans make the mistake of thinking that everybody in the world wants basically the same thing: a job, food to eat, security for their family, a little vacation and clean water.

In reality, not everyone thinks this way. Obviously, if you have suicide bombers willing to blow themselves up for a cause, they have different priorities and ethics. It all depends on how you look at things and how you are brought up. If your parents train you to think of the West as evil and the cause of all your hardship and misery, of course you outlook will be jaded.

Unlearning takes a long time and is an arduous process requiring a high level of personal honesty. It is one thing to want something, quite another to actually make the effort to achieve it.