It took an act as drastic as the Great Recession to happen for many Americans to realize one of the country’s greatest strengths—manufacturing, which leads to innovation and progress—had eroded away over the previous 30 or so years as companies went to far off places to produce their goods for lower costs and, in many cases, lower quality.
While flooring manufacturers, in some ways, were just as guilty a perpetrator in moving production overseas, by and large the industry has remained a solid—and viable—U.S. entity. And, in recent years even more so as many of the operations are being brought back thanks to higher energy/transportation and foreign labor costs nullifying the original cost advantages. Plus, numerous manufacturers are building facilities here instead of relying on their foreign-run plants or trying to source product from different companies in other parts of the world.
Granted much of this has to do with cost benefits, but there is also a growing movement known as Made in the USA, and it is something many companies are noticing as study after study is saying the American consumer is willing to spend a few extra dollars (the percentages vary depending on the product) if given the choice to buy something made here as opposed to it coming from another country.
This issue focuses on the Made in USA movement and flooring from a number of angles, in some ways showing how different segments of the industry are as entrenched in America as baseball and apple pie, and in others explaining the reasons and advantages for domestically making a product.
But while our attention is turned on the Made in USA concept, this is in no way intended to diminish all those Americans who get their employment from companies who either manufacture someplace else and just sell into the country or those who actively import and have warehouses and distribution networks in place. Because when it comes to jobs, they pay just like any other.
Total numbers are hard to pin down because the flooring industry is truly tremendously diversified in terms of the types and amount of product it offers and all that is required—from the initial design all the way to installation. The simple truth is, the industry employs thousands upon thousands of hardworking individuals. In fact, the number most likely tops seven figures when you break it down to every person who gets some portion of their living directly from the industry.
And that doesn’t even factor in the countless others who benefit indirectly—from the national level to the state level and down to your neighborhood, such as the local grocery store where your employees shop, local restaurants, doctors, hardware stores, and so on.
The point is, yes, there is a definitive legitimacy to the Made in USA movement and more and more consumers are seeking these types of goods, but don’t discount the industry in general when discussing its impact on the American way of life as you walk your customers through the selling process. After all, your retail store is not “Made in the USA” but you are employing American workers, you are paying taxes—at the federal and local levels—you are sponsoring the little league team, your children are going to American schools and the list goes on and on.
The fact is, flooring is a worldwide industry, but speaking just for the U.S., its roots can be traced back to its pioneering days and, today, it plays a vital cog in the American way of life.