Today’s consumer is incredibly educated about what products she wants in her home. By the time she gets to the retail store she’s already visited flooring websites, blogs and message boards; she’s been to manufacturer websites, your store’s website, visited competitor sites, talked to her friends and compared products.
As a result, there’s no question that she has definite opinions about the products she likes and her criteria for choosing them.
Among those criteria are design and color, price, durability, performance, maintenance requirements, environmental considerations, the manufacturer’s reputation, and how and where it’s made. And of all those criteria, where it’s made is arguably the most critical factor because it drives job growth, contributes to economic stability and improves the overall health of our local communities.
So just why is Made in the USA important?
For consumers, it’s becoming increasingly important to know where the products they’re purchasing come from. In the past few decades, as long as it looked good and the price was right then it was generally acceptable.
Today, however, consumers are beginning to realize the true and far-reaching value of buying a product that has been Made in the USA: It satisfies environmental initiatives, offers better quality control, provides speed to market, allows for the creation of on-target designs and, perhaps most importantly, supports local economies and creates jobs.
After decades of offshore manufacturing, many companies both large and small are coming back to their roots and bringing business back to our shores. Since the 1970s, domestic manufacturing has been on the decline—in response to consumer demand for lower prices.
Companies discovered they could manufacture goods overseas, particularly in China, and ship it to the U.S. more cheaply than if they made it here originally. But wages in China—and other countries—are rising, and transporting goods from the Far East and other parts of the world is getting more costly—not to mention the environmental impacts of so much energy needed for transport.
And the gap will continue to close. According to the Boston Consulting Group, by 2015 “the cost to manufacture in China and deliver to the United States versus the cost to manufacture in the United States will be less than 10%.”
Cost considerations aside, products made in the U.S. offer benefits that directly affect us, and our family, friends and neighbors. People recognize the implications of buying domestically made goods: “They understand,” says Adam Reiser, cofounder of Made in USA Certified as told to Industry Edgenewsletter. “They know their brother, uncle or sister is out of a job. Every little thing that they’re looking at now, they’re making a strategic purchase.”
Critical for companies who have deep roots, like Mannington Mills—a 4th generation family owned flooring manufacturer based in Salem, N.J.—is supporting the local communities where its facilities are located. And where that starts is with jobs. Good jobs. Good manufacturing jobs. Like many American-based flooring manufacturers, Mannington offers the opportunity for not just a job, but a career, which in turn supports their families, their local school districts, their local businesses and, overall, their communities.
So whether you call it onshoring or reshoring, expanding job opportunities in the United States is the right thing to do.
Mannington is part of a growing number of companies that are not just keeping jobs here in the U.S., they are bringing more into the country. Since many manufacturing operations are located in small, often rural, towns, an influx of good paying jobs at those facilities has a huge impact on the local community.
Consider some of the more far-reaching affects of job creation: Workers and their families can purchase housing, and afford housing improvements; they hire local real estate agents, along with plumbers, electricians and laborers from other industries; they spend money in local stores buying food, supplies, and clothing; they have some disposable income for dining and entertainment at local establishments—or sometimes even the ability to have a good time out of town; they send their kids to local schools, and sign them up for little league or dance lessons.
The impact of jobs trickles downstream to have a positive effect on the entire community.
In the flooring industry, jobs lost to China over the past few years are slowly starting to come back to the U.S. For example, Mannington Mills recently began an expansion of its Madison, Ga., LVT manufacturing plant, with plans to double the size of that facility’s footprint. This venture will also significantly increase Mannington’s local workforce, creating 219 new jobs over the next few years, with the potential for even more.
As the Greek philosopher Aristotle said, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Jobs are an important component of the strength of a community, and together with the commitment of businesses to keep jobs here in the U.S., and the commitment of consumers to support those companies whose products are made here, domestic manufacturing can be revitalized.
Betsy Amoroso is director of corporate communications, for Mannington Mills. She has over 20 years of experience in the home furnishings industry, and has been with Mannington since 2002. She manages the company’s residential marketing and branding as well as corporate communications activities. Mannington is involved in both residential and commercial flooring segments, and will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2015. To contact her, call (856) 935-3000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.