Getting back to making things in the U.S.

Domestic manufacturers should strive for a higher standard of quality

MADE IN USE stamped in to metal plate

With manufacturing supply chains getting knocked out of whack due to the global COVID-19 crisis, Nick Martin of Barnes MetalCrafters writes that it might be time for U.S. manufacturers to focus on making better products domestically. Getty Images

If you are a metal fabricator and receive unsolicited emails, I’m sure you’ve seen some that start off this way:

Dear Kind Sir, We are interested in purchasing your products. Please kindly send me your latest catalog.

It is kind of gratifying to get these messages. At least some of them make it to my inbox and don’t end up in my spam folder. Good for them, but where do we have to draw the line for new business from foreign countries? You have to admit, it is hard to take these sales attempts seriously.

I have offered some thoughts in the past about relying on suppliers from China. It’s not only the Chinese that are finding entry points into our economy, but also several other countries. What kind of product are we sending to other countries that will end up at the bottom of a trash can in minutes, hours, or days after its first use? I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about something you can actually use or enjoy for work or play. I am very curious to know.

As said before, my daughters have a ton of trinkets that are made in other countries, specifically China. For instance, the other day we were playing with some water balloons. They have these gadgets now that blow up nearly 30 water balloons in about 30 seconds. I’ll admit it is pretty cool, but you end up with a huge mess of spent balloons scattered about your yard in a few minutes. (Pro tip: Do not let the balloons explode on your car as they turn into a bubble gum-like material after baking in the sun.) The toy is fun, but entertainment has a price. The amount of money we threw at it went down the drain pretty quick. Of course, this product was made in China.

While we were sitting there in between water balloon sessions, I looked at my oldest daughter and told her we needed to come up with something fun to play with. I told her that she was allowed to do whatever she wanted to do with this life and that it was OK to make things. She looked at me for a few seconds and then ran away to go play. She is only 4 years old and says she wants to be an excavator driver when she gets older. Hey, that's fine with me. My other daughter just wants to snuggle and get cozy for now. But honestly, these kids have a wild imagination and it would be nice to harness some of that creativity to make something fun and useful.

I don’t think kids are told enough that it is cool and OK to make and build things. There are some very engaging resources out there. We just have to let them know that some of this educational and inspirational material exists. We live in a global economy, but who else is playing a part in filling our homes with stuff?

I see some companies try to skirt the label by saying a product is assembled in America. That looks nice and dandy, but where is everything actually being made? We are taking money out of our economy. I know I might be beating the dead horse, but there are so many factors. It’s almost like we are driving down a well-lit tunnel wearing enormous BluBlocker sunglasses. While we are driving, our money is slowly going out the window.

Maybe we need to focus on making better products in our country. Maybe we need to practice sending spam emails out to the masses all across the globe. We could ask for a catalog of products from manufacturers and stop short of asking for their credit card information. That may make it a little too obvious, but if it works for some, it may work for others. But, hey, apparently the possibilities are endless. We just need to start getting back to making quality products in our country and exporting them to other countries. It will only be good for our economy.

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About the Author
Nick Martin

Nick Martin

Barnes MetalCrafters Inc.

113 Walnut St. West

Wilson, 27893


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