How American Made Matters Helps US Plastic Injection Molding Companies

How the “American Made Matters” Organization Helps U.S. Plastic Injection Molding Companies

Posted by Jill Worth on Thu, Nov 03, 2011 @ 09:00 AM

As Americans, we’ve all experienced the effects of our country’s economic downturn, resulting in high unemployment rates, drops in the stock market, and people questioning the security of their future. It’s time to pull together as a nation and American Made Matters, a group of U.S. manufacturers, is doing their part by promoting why buying American will help save our jobs and strengthen our economy.
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There is a great need to educate plastic injection molding companies about the benefits of keeping operations at home. Many are still outsourcing for materials, parts, and labor, not realizing what it is costing their business, the industry, and our country. American Made Matters shows that U.S. companies can be competitive with offshore, when they look at the big picture. Below are some talking points about the benefits for plastic injection molding companies to keeping everything “made in the USA”:

Plastic Injection Molding Facility

Save Money
• Shipping containers can cost $3000 or more each, plus inland freight charges and duties.
• There are no duties on goods produced in the U.S.
• Sending an engineer or procurement person to an offshore company can cost twice as much than to U.S. based factories.

Streamline Production and Shipping
• Time zones are disruptive to production schedules. With anywhere up to 14 hours difference, delays of at least one day to get responses to questions are common.
• It could take up to 30 days to ship from overseas, and there can be additional delays with U.S. Customs or Ports of Entry inspections.
• In comparison, it typically takes 1-5 days for most U.S. shipments.

Tooling Facility

Ensure the Highest Quality 

Communications, mainly due to language barriers, are difficult when doing business offshore, and can cause costly mistakes and compromise quality. Quality control is more easily managed here in the U.S.

Protect the Planet 

Less energy is required to deliver U.S. made goods to our national market. In addition, more eco-friendly production is possible here at home where EPA and state environmental policies are in place.

Protect Your Intellectual Property 

Intellectual property is much safer in the U.S. There is a history of counterfeit goods being produced in Asia and shipped to the states. Trademarks and Patents are largely ignored in Asia and other foreign countries. Many plastic injection molding companies’ products produced offshore wind up on the “street market,” diminishing the manufacturer’s good name.

American Made Matters is also spreading the word to consumers so they know where they can purchase goods that are American made. Their website, www.americanmadematters.com, has a listing of members in all industries, including plastic injection molding companies.

“Buying American made is more important than ever,” says Don Rongione, the organization’s founder. American Made Matters is reaching out to our country’s consumers so they can remember that when they buy American, they are helping to support not only the U.S. economy, but also the “American Dream” of a safe and secure life for your family.

Pa. Proud: ‘Worlds kids love’ created daily at local toy manufacturer K’NEX

Pa. Proud: ‘Worlds kids love’ created daily at local toy manufacturer K’NEX
Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011
By: For Journal Register News Service

Amazement. K’NEX President and CEO Michael Araten says that it is one of the most common responses he receives when he tells people that K’NEX building toys are manufactured in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. “So many people are used to toys from overseas that they don’t even consider that these products may be manufactured not just in the United States, but in their own backyard,” Araten said. “That is the perception that we’re hoping to change.”

If amazement is the initial response to the news that K’NEX products are manufactured in Hatfield, the sentiment only deepens upon hearing the uniquely American story behind the colorful plastic building sets.

Joel Glickman was 50 years old in 1990 when inspiration struck in the form of cocktail straws at a wedding. Mr. Glickman, tinkering with the straws, envisioned the possibilities of a construction toy built around the concept of rods (like the straws) and connectors to hold them together.

By the time his idea (now called K’NEX) hit the toy market in late 1992 Mr. Glickman had spent two years refining the concept only to have it rejected by the major toy companies including Hasbro and Mattel.

Committed to the idea, he pushed ahead manufacturing the K’NEX pieces at his family’s plastics factory, The Rodon Group, in Hatfield.

Glickman’s hunch was correct — the idea was a good one and in the nearly 20 years that have followed, the family-owned and operated K’NEX has become one of the world’s leading integrated construction systems for children and the winner of more than 200 international awards and recognitions. The line has grown to include sets with not only rods and connectors but also bricks, personality parts, and motors for movement, now sold by retailers around the world. A focus on Building Worlds Kids Love™ has resulted in Sesame Street, NASCAR, Monster Jam and Mario Kart Wii-licensed K’NEX building sets along with K’NEX branded building sets for kids ages 2–12.

Committed to manufacturing in the United States at a time when most toys are made overseas K’NEX is the only U.S. Construction toy company, with more than 90 percent of its parts still manufactured its by sister company The Rodon Group. In business since 1956, the Rodon Group makes billions of parts each year in its 125,000 square foot eco-friendly facility and is one of the largest family-owned and operated injection molders in the United States. In addition to K’NEX, The Rodon Group serves a diverse group of industries including consumer products, medical, construction, and pharmaceutical.

“At K’NEX and Rodon, we’ve learned that manufacturing in America can actually be more cost-effective than manufacturing overseas,” said Araten.

“Furthermore our nation was founded on an entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to shape our own growth by inventing and making everything we use. Continuing to shed our manufacturing base is akin to trying to run a race without running shoes — you can do it, but you are at a tremendous disadvantage.”

It’s a disadvantage that K’NEX is trying to stem through its membership in various Made in America advocacy groups including American Made Matters, headquartered in Adamston, PA. Araten, K’NEX and Rodon are optimistic about the possibility of bringing more manufacturing jobs to America and increasing the understanding of why American made matters among consumers. It’s just another challenge for a company used to surprising doubters — a fact made even clearer by the rejection letters that line the walls of K’NEX Headquarters as a constant reminder that in America all things are possible.

Made in the USA is Cool Again

MADE IN THE USA IS COOL AGAIN

It’s about time – the made in the USA label is finally making an impact on consumers. It could very well be hyperbole, but there are people who think that selling patriotism makes good sense (and cents).

Brooks Brothers and the Olsen twins are using this moniker to sell luxury goods. Menswear designer Joseph Abboud has a “Made in USA” banner on his website with a link to footage of the Massachusetts factory that makes his suits. Brooks Brothers has factories in the USA and The Row, the luxury fashion line from Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, manufactures most of its goods in America.

“There is a customer that appreciates products made in the United States and is willing to pay for the difference,” said Brooks Brothers chief executive Claudio Del Vecchio. Ten years ago Brooks Brothers did not make much in the US, but today a large percentage is American-made.

The USA’s reputation for quality is benefiting upscale labels as more Americans question where their goods come from, and how their buying affects the economy, said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing Inc.

“Made in America feeds into the values proposition,” she said. “They are voting with their money not just for U.S. jobs, but for a way of life. In 2007, they were on a spending jag -they weren’t thinking about things like this.”

More than three-quarters of affluent consumers surveyed this year by American Express Publishing and the Harrison Group said they like brands made in America, up five percent from 2008. Sixty-five per cent say they try to buy U.S. products whenever possible.

Other apparel makers have used the patriotism angle to attract U.S. consumers as well. Levi Strauss has always hyped its Made in the US roots, while Chrysler is just now making its “Imported from Detroit,” the new hip appeal to patriots of all ages.

“There is a built-in inherent interest among those successful people to do whatever they can do to help,” said Andrew Sacks, of Agency Sacks. Recent increases in labor costs in China, a sagging dollar and stalling U.S. economic growth probably will lead to more American manufacturing, he added.

The Olsens’ women’s label, The Row uses factories in NY and LA to make items such as $250 T-shirts and $2,350 dresses. First Lady Michelle Obama and actress Julianne Moore wear their goods, and critics continue to support the Olsen’s USA roots.

Tiffany & Co. has expanded its manufacturing base to Lexington, Kentucky. The New York-based company now makes everything in the U.S., compared with 20 percent 15 years ago.

The Made-in-America label is just starting its rise to popularity. As critics point out, most of Polo Ralph Lauren’s goods are made outside the US (and Coach). The irony of that is quite profound since Lauren was the first to create a sense of Americana to his ubiquitous legend.

The American Dream Matters

The American Dream Matters

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Most Americans can trace their lineage back to a foreign ancestry. America’s settlers were poor families, adventurers and exiles, seeking a place where they could establish a better life. Millions from dozens of countries have come to America for the opportunity to find work and benefit from the fruits of their labor. They came to provide a better life for their families, an education for their children and to own a home. They came with hope and dreams and anything was possible. For generations, American men and women have worked for a better future. This is the American Dream.

Today, that promise of a better life is threatened. The loss of 5.5 million manufacturing jobs in the last ten years along with another 25 million supporting jobs is taking away the opportunities and promise of America. Brian Hella, CEO of National Semiconductor, said “There is a gold rush taking place in China. It’s a major opportunity, and it’s a major threat if we blow it. And we are blowing it-big time. The great American Dream appears to be moving to Shanghai.”1

American manufacturing businesses have been especially hard hit. 40,000 US manufacturing plants closed their doors in 2008 alone, putting hundreds of thousands of hard working men and women in the unemployment line. Cheaply manufactured goods coming from foreign countries aren’t helping the US economy. Buying products which will not last long, will require more energy to transport to market, will offer less reliability and safety, while sending our jobs and wealth elsewhere is a losing proposition for consumers and the future of America.

In the book “Manufacturing a Better Future for America,” Ron Hira, the assistant professor of public policy at Rochester Institute of Technology writes, “the United States cannot sustain itself with a finance or service-based economy. Manufacturing is the only way of assuring a better future for America.”2

By supporting American made products, you’re supporting American jobs and companies, and keeping our jobs in our country. Americans have always cherished the right to work for a living, to pursue the same American dream as our ancestors. The US economic demand is more than 20% of the world’s total while or consumers account for nearly30% of the world’s consumer spending power. This gives us great economic power.  Americans must use this power by favoring American made products.  Buy American made products and restore the American dream!

1 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America ( pg. 8 )

2 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America ( pg. 11 )

Our Economy Matters

Our Economy Matters

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The US budget deficit continues to grow as does our trade deficit. The US trade deficit for 2010 should finish close to $500 billion.  An ongoing trade deficit will damage any economy because trade deficits are financed with debt.  In 2009, the US trade deficit of just consumer products was $103 billion.  This includes clothing, consumer electronics, household goods and furniture.

According to Erskine Bowles, of President Obama’s National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility & Reform, if the US government does not make changes soon, by 2020 it will be spending $2 trillion dollars per year in interest alone. “Domestic manufacturers and producers have grown increasingly frustrated with economists who for decades have rationalized manufacturing job losses as being good for the economy. Manufacturers argue that the federal agencies, the administration and congress – Republicans and Democrats alike – have been negligent in their stewardship of the economy. The United States is not generating enough wealth to pay its mounting and massive debts. Cheap imports made in unsafe, low-wage factories overseas are not improving the fortunes of America’s least fortunate, much less its middle class. The US trade deficit in 2008 stood at $700 billion – or about $2,000 for every American.”1

For every $1 that US manufacturers spend, another $1.40 of economic activity is created.  This multiplier is much greater than any other sector of our economy.  Without American citizens making products, and companies and workers recycling the money back into our economy, the US won’t be able to pay its massive debts to other countries much less meet the needs of its citizens. Health care, retirement, housing, and insurance are can all benefit from taxes and investments coming from American workers in American factories, labs, and offices.

This country’s legendary manufacturing industry is running out of time. As factories close, machines are scrapped or sent to low-cost producing countries. When this happens, the knowledge and skills that American manufacturers have refined throughout the years are lost. The effort and money required to start up new factories or re-open closed plants is difficult to justify, meaning these jobs might be lost forever. “Time is not on our side and by allowing the continuing erosion of this country’s manufacturing sector they are selling our future,” Dan DiMicco, President & CEO of Nucor says. America’s infatuation with “every-day low prices is costing the country more than $2 billion a day. It is time to stop this madness. We kowtow to special interests. We play geopolitics. We are a slave to a discredited free-trade theory in the face of reality. We lack the will to change. In short, we have lost our minds.”2

But you can help save jobs and kick start our economy before these factories shut down forever.  Buy American made products and help keep American jobs and American money in America.

1 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 4) 

2 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 9)

Our Independence Matters

Our Independence Matters

Factory hood, 030109

America was founded by courageous men and women seeking freedom and independence. Our forefathers fought and died for independence centuries ago. Immigrants from all over the world re-located here to find freedom, independence and a better life. However, America’s reliance on foreign countries for products, technology, labor, and natural resources threatens our independence.

The US used to lead the world in engineering, research and mechanical design. But since 2004, that title has been lost. Paul Craig Roberts, economist, columnist for Creators Syndicate, and former Assistant Secretary of Treasury, says “The idea is nonsensical that the United States can remain at the front of research, innovation, design and engineering while the country ceases to make things. Research and product development invariably follow manufacturing.”1

Many have predicted that we would replace manufacturing jobs with technology jobs but with the sharp decline in manufacturing, America loses supporting jobs like research and development. Government spending cannot bail this out. Federal spending for energy research dropped from 5.5 billion in 1978 to 793 million in 2005. The budget for aeronautics research at NASA fell from 594 million to 512 million.

Long standing American manufacturing industries are dying out because they simply can’t compete with subsidized foreign companies. This means more unemployed American workers, more sub-par quality products, and more dependence on other countries to grow and make what we need to survive. “Advanced automotive design studios “are popping up like rabbits in China,” notes Eric Noble, president of The Car Lab, an automotive consultancy. Writes Paul Roberts: “the idea is nonsensical that the United States can remain at the front of research, innovation, design and engineering while the country ceases to make things. Research and product development invariably follow manufacturing.”2

America will lose her independence without the ability to produce what we wear and consume. America’s leadership in technological innovation and manufacturing excellence can rise again if our consumers, who account for 30% of global spending, use our economic clout. Supporting American made products and businesses protects our independence.

1 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 42) 

2 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 52)

Our Security Matters

Our Security Matters

Emp working with hats on line

To protect its citizens, a government must be able to clothe and equip its military. “The Pentagon is growing increasingly worried about the  shift of production capacity offshore, the rise of global supply chains and the movement of research and development to countries that are considered to be potential adversaries. Those working deep in the military complex – the contracting officers having to deal with companies using counterfeit components or who can’t find American companies to manufacture worn-out parts – are especially worried about the health of the US industrial base. These defense contracting officials view the Pentagon’s response to global economic challenges as being inadequate to the crisis at hand. Even more alarming is the demise of the American automobile industry and its impact on the defense industrial base, let alone the loss of a huge tax revenue stream that is necessary to maintain a strong military with more than 700 bases worldwide.”1

In his article “Globalization and National Security,” James A. Lewis talks about how the US is becoming increasingly dependent on other countries for technological innovations, and how it can become a national security risk. “…Technological leveling and interdependence give opponents new opportunities to seek asymmetric advantages. The emphasis is to avoid direct engagement with military forces. Civilian and economic infrastructures are soft targets that are more vulnerable to asymmetric attack.”

In a documentary episode of CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Jim Gosslar, one of the “Fathers of Cyber War,” stated that most commercial computer chips and processors are now made abroad, overseas, and that there are concerns that foreign governments could tamper with them. “We have found micro electronics that have been embedded in applications that shouldn’t be there, and it’s very clear that a foreign intelligence service put them there.”

To protect our freedom, America must be able to create nuclear warheads, fighter plane drones, and stealth bombers but also to make a hat, battle fatigues or a pair of boots. The best way to restore our economy and keep the country safe from foreign threats is to bring research & development, engineering and manufacturing back to US shores. You can help our security by supporting American made products and businesses.

1 McCormack, Richard, (2009) The Plight of American Manufacturing.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 52)

Made in America Making a Comeback

“Made in America”: The Comeback

By  | Daily Ticker – Thu, May 12, 2011 8:53 AM EDT

U.S. exports hit a record $173 billion in March, up 15% from a year-ago and 37% from 2009. The good times for “Made in America” are just getting started, according to a new study from The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

In fact, BCG predicts 2015 will be a tipping point of sorts, when global manufacturers will view the U.S. as equal to if not better-than China, senior partner Harold Sirkin tells me in the accompanying video.

“We’re not saying the world’s going to suddenly change and U.S. companies are going to manufacture here for shipment to China,” Sirkin says. “But the U.S. will be a very important place if you’re going to sell into the U.S.”

In making this seemingly outrageous forecast, Sirkin cites the following:

  • Rising wages in China plus the strengthening yuan are eroding China’s cost advantage vs. the U.S.
  • America’s “very productive, motivated and flexible workforce” is attractive to employers and all aspects of U.S. society — including unions and state governments — are “focused on creating jobs.”
  • Intangibles such as the length of the supply chain and the challenges of communicating over multiple time zones work to the advantage of the U.S. (The same is true of Mexico, which BCG says is “also poised to benefit as a low-cost alternative” to China.)

For the record, BCG’s forecast is based on the U.S. regulatory and tax environment remaining the same. This is about “pure economics,” Sirkin says. “If you improve tax rates and regulation, it’ll only make the trend happen faster.”

Clearly this forecast runs against conventional wisdom. But conventional wisdom also holds that America “doesn’t make anything anymore,” which isn’t true either. Since 1972, U.S. manufacturing output has risen nearly 2.5 times, according to BCG.

But U.S. manufacturing employment has fallen nearly 25% in the same time period and few consumer goods are made here anymore, which is why it “feels” worse than the reality; if BCG is even half right, that’s going to change for the better soon.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @atask or email him ataltask@yahoo.com

Our Planet Matters

Our Planet Matters

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The Earth’s ecosystem is something many of us take for granted. Manufacturing in the US, Canada and most European countries is compliant  with clean air, clean water and solid waste disposal regulations as well as reducing ozone-depleting chemical use. In places like China, India and South Africa, there is little to no enforcement to protect air, water and land.

In China, there have been multiple reports of lake water poisoning due to pollution from heavy-metal industries. The crops and wildlife of provinces like Hunan and Guangdong have suffered heavy losses and the people living in these provinces are now drinking contaminated water.

Many environmental organizations are outraged about the heavy pollution going on in these provinces. Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in China, says “The secrecy in this industry means companies are less open to dialogue and exchange of information…From our experience, we see that ‘environmental commitments’ of many IT companies is empty talk. They tell us that they have a supplier code of conduct that says that if their tier-two suppliers have a problem, they will work with their tier-one suppliers to solve this. But many don’t even know who their tier two suppliers are.”

Chinese companies produce three times the amount of carbon emissions per ton of steel. The US Steel Industry, like many others, has struggled to compete with companies who receive government support to export and are allowed to pollute.

China has some strict environmental laws on the books, but the fines that may be levied to enforce the regulations are so insignificant that they are seen merely as a cost of doing business rather than a true deterrent. Local authorities that collect the fines will often recycle the revenues back to the polluters as tax breaks. In addition, as with its weak health and safety regime, China’s legal system makes it extremely difficult for pollution victims to properly seek any redress. A major problem with enforcement is that China’s state environmental protection agency is critically understaffed and under-budgeted. While the US Environmental Protection Agency employs close to 17,000, China’s State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) had only 300 – this to oversee environmental protection in a country with well over a billion people. Perhaps no one is more aware of the impotence of the China SEPA than its outspoken Deputy Directory Pan Yue who has warned that: “China’s population is so big and its resources so scarce that if we continue to ignore our environmental problems, that will bring disaster for us and the world.”1

Many foreign manufacturing companies favor faster, cheaper, and less environmentally friendly methods because of the pressure to meet price and delivery demands. Bringing manufacturing back on our shores will lessen that demand, and send a message that may force foreign manufacturers to consider more environmentally friendly methods. Manufacturing companies here in the US must comply with environmental protection guidelines and dispose of waste in a safe, clean way. This compliance increases costs for US-made products which means that you may pay more. But isn’t leaving a clean planet for our children and grandchildren worth it?

Besides these serious concerns regarding manufacturing plants adhering to environmentally responsible processes, consider the fuel consumed to transport goods to our markets.  When we buy products made in our country, a fraction of the oil is burned to get it to you!  So show your support, and help keep our planet clean.

1 Navarro, Peter, (2009) Benchmarking Foreign Advantages.  In R. McCormack, Manufacturing a Better Future for America (pg. 134)