Made in America: Still Alive and Profitable

made in america ll bean

The Fading Trend of Outsourcing Manufacturing Jobs

It seems that the trend for the last few decades in corporate America has been: moving American businesses into different countries that offer cheaper expenses. This may help the company’s bottom line but it is detrimental for the American economy and American workers that are left without a job. There are still plenty of companies left that refuse to abandon the respect that being Made in America earns. Made in American companies also boast using high quality materials. And with stricter labor laws, they offer their employees a safer and fairer work environment.

Companies that have never left their American homeland have most likely experienced hardships, especially during the recession that lasted from 2007-2009. Now that the recession has ceased, companies are being repaid by appreciative Americans that are back on their feet. It’s amazing to see the amount of companies that refused to give up on quality for profit. While they may have experienced minimal profits during the recession, the fact that they remained loyal to their country and citizens is turning out to be a great decision for their bottom line.

Things have changed. The difference between production cost in America and China is not as great as it used to be. According to a recent article from CNN Money, quote:

Surprise! Making goods in China isn’t actually that cheap.

These days, China’s labor costs are only 4% cheaper than those in the U.S. when productivity is factored in, according to Oxford Economics.

That’s because wages in China have risen much faster than increases in productivity. Coupled with a strengthening yuan, Chinese labor costs have grown dramatically. Meanwhile, huge productivity improvements in the U.S. have helped keep labor costs down.

The bottom line: Manufacturing in China is no longer a surefire way to save on the cost of labor.

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One such company that is reaping the benefits of being American made is, L.L. Bean. Based in Maine for over a hundred years, L.L. Bean is known for manufacturing outdoor clothes and rubber boots. The company’s signature Bean Boot has been selling out every year since 2011. It seems that the signature boot has hit a fashion trend and has been going strong for years. One major reason that L.L. Bean can’t keep their boots on the shelf is due to their refusal to export their operations overseas. By keeping their boot manufacturing local, they are able to keep their brand in demand. They also boast about using only American made materials to construct their boots. Even using steel from local artisans!

L.L. Bean: The Example of Profitable Made in America Par Excellence

L.L. Bean operates out of an impressive 170,000 square foot factory in Maine. Bean understands how important its employees are to their brand. They have begun training their own workforce by offering a training program that can teach anyone how to make boots from the bottom up. It seems that a lot of the shoe building work has left America and so have the people that are familiar with manufacturing them. It is said that almost 90 percent of shoes worldwide are created in China. Ensuring that their employees are being properly trained is a big deal for the quality of their brand. The employees are also treated to company sponsored Zumba classes in the factory that the boots are made.

Brands like L.L. Bean should be applauded for sticking to the Made in America brand. Other companies could learn a great deal from Bean. By treating and training their staff correctly and by using local products to manufacture their own, they are essentially building a bond with their American consumers. While moving overseas may work out for some companies, it is looked as the easy way out by blue collar Americans.

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Some Examples of Why Expensive isn’t Always Better, and Cheap isn’t Always Bad

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Most of us are under the impression that spending more money always means superior quality over cheaper brands. While certain things are definitely worth the investment, there are many products that we use everyday that are offered in a more affordable alternative.

Any big box store you go into will offer the name brand product, with their generic version next to it. If you’ve ever compared ingredients on food or beauty products, you’ll notice that the generic version is very similar to the name brand items.

Within this article, I hope to clear up some common misconceptions that spending more is always better.


 Generic drugs

A lot of pharmacies have opted to offer a generic brand of popular medicines at a fraction of the cost of name brands. It only takes a quick Google search of both to see their chemical makeups are the virtually exact same.

People are under the impression that the name brand medicine is more effective than some of the generic types. Doctors will typically get a kickback for certain prescriptions that they write. That is why your doctor may recommend using the name brand.

I always make it a point to see if there is a generic version available, and if there is, I will ask for him to write the prescription for that instead.

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Automobiles

Automobiles are so cutting edge nowadays that people fall for all of the new gadgets and technology that is offered. I can’t blame anyone for wanting a car that will talk to them. I mean, I had dreams as a child of a car that was as advanced as people predicted that they would be 20 years ago.

With cars that offer bluetooth and wifi capabilities and tell where you want to go by pulling up a map and offering you turn by turn directions, I think it’s safe to say, the future is here. However, with all of this great technology, come many downfalls.

When this cutting edge technology fails, you’re not going to be able to go to just any shop for a repair.

You’ll most likely have to find a dealership with mechanics that are specially trained in the computer parts of your vehicle.

These mechanics will have had to have special training, which is not cheap. The cost of this training, is wrapped into the labor rates that you will be paying for the repair.

On the other hand, if you have a vehicle without all of these great features, you can go to any mom and pop auto shop to get the maintenance and repairs that your vehicle needs, at a reasonable price.

The price difference between a tried and true basic vehicle compared to a car with cutting edge technology, is staggering.

You will most likely be financing a brand new vehicle, and when the technology fails, you’ll need to pay for repairs, on top of your monthly note.

A cheaper vehicle will no doubt also fail, but a repair won’t hurt nearly as bad with a cheaper monthly payment.

When it comes to cars, a good rule of thumb is to go Japanese, go used, and go for a car that averaged less than 12k miles a year.

Honda and Toyota are the shining stars when it comes to durability (Mitsubishi has poorer dealer support.)

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Make-Up

Advertisements are meant to sway us into thinking brand name products are superior.

Cosmetic and makeup companies spend a lot of money into making us think that. Again, if you compare the ingredients on the back of the bottles with the generic brands, you will see that they are very similar, if not the same.

Sometimes, the only advertisement a brand needs is to have their product next to a well known name brand.

Makeup is another great example. The generic brands may not have the same consistency as the more popular ones but they will work and are made the same.

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Kitchen Knives

When you’re in the kitchen, you need a knife that will hold up to whatever food you’re cutting.

A dull knife is never OK when you’re cooking. I use a Victorinox Fibrox 8″ Chef’s Knife as my primary knife.

I rarely eat out, which means I’m using my knife literally every time I prepare myself a meal.

I sharpen it regularly, and don’t foresee this knife failing me any time soon. I’ve tried the expensive knives and really haven’t seen a noticeable difference in quality.

Victorinox Swiss Army 8-Inch Chef’s Knife

Made in Switzerland, has a lifetime warranty, and is reasonably priced. It doesn't get much better than this!

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Price: $54.00 $34.94

Buy Now

So, the next time you make a purchase and just automatically go for the name brand, think about what you’re buying.

It’s at least worth trying a generic name once, just to see how you like it.

You’ll be paying sometimes, less than half of what you would pay for a name brand, and may be surprised with the results.

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