Bringing It All Back Home: Made in the USA

What do American companies producing ATM machines, auto parts, camping equipment, musical instruments and mattresses have in common? They are bringing their production back to the United States after relocating to Asia.

And this is only a smattering of products that have traversed the long and winding road of global trade and are finally back home where they should be.

American manufacturers are increasingly stunned by the new math of off-shoring. They are concluding moving half-a-world away to manage a work force in a topsy-turvy, ever-changing environment, brings with it unimaginable hidden costs that eventually erodes any perceived advantages.

After years of investing in what they hoped would be profit-soaring overseas operations, they are instead finding their dreams have been built on shifting sands. For many, they bought into an illusion. They based their decisions on flawed projections filled with false assumptions of a cost structure anchored in sheer folly.

So the time has come for U.S. manufacturers to cut losses and head home to build upon the sturdy bedrock of American stability and predictability.

The phenomenon of “back-shoring” — the practice of U.S. companies moving their overseas manufacturing operations back home — is bringing renewed hope and jobs to communities across the country.

American manufacturers that were lured to foreign countries in search of cheap labor are finding that $1.00 per-worker-hour buys years of unanticipated complications. This includes the scourge of corruption, gripping poverty, hostile labor unions, crony courts, runaway intellectual property theft, inefficient labor, massive infrastructure deficiencies, skewed investment laws, security concerns, environmental meltdowns and host governments that expect strict adherence to their unfair and onerous rules and regulations.

Recent reports from China suggest that pay for factory workers have soared by as much as 69 percent between 2005 and 2010. This has led to a work force that is getting pickier about what jobs they will accept and at what salary. Although American labor costs are still higher than China, the gap is shrinking.

Manufacturers are also being reminded that U.S. labor is very flexible and efficient with a wide range of technical skills. This is accentuated by America being by far the choice destination of highly skilled immigrants.

We must remember that legal immigration has always been essential to keeping America competitive, strong and vibrant. Attracting the world’s best talent must remain an important component of our economic growth strategy. It provides us a tremendous advantage over our competitors.

To illustrate this, we have a manufacturing facility in the suburbs of Chicago, with a number of Eastern Europeans working for us that immigrated to the United States in pursuit of a better life for themselves and families. These highly skilled machine operators, welders, electricians and assemblers are crucial to our company’s continued success. They reinforce the fact that you don’t have to move to Warsaw to benefit from the skills of the Eastern European work force.

We also have a manufacturing facility in Sacramento that employs a large number Hmong, an indigenous ethnic group that come from the mountainous region of Vietnam and Laos. They remained steadfast and loyal allies to the United States during the Vietnam War. Thousands eventually relocated to the United States, with Sacramento being one of the main resettlement areas. We are very fortunate to have them as part of our team. They are hardworking and dedicated and will do just about anything to ensure our company succeeds. You don’t need to move to Asia to have an Asian work force. Just go to Northern California.

We must send a loud and clear message to Washington to create the conditions whereby back-shoring becomes a promise to the American worker. It starts by bringing down excessive regulations and rewriting the tax code that today discriminates against American manufacturers and favor foreign manufacturers in our own country.

We have an historic opportunity to right a wrong, to set course for a future that ushers in a new age of prosperity for all Americans. We can create 14 million jobs for our unemployed if we simply turn the trickle of off-shoring into a flood.

I know we can do this, because after beginning my career as an Asian manufacturer, I am now an American manufacturer employing American workers.

If I can make this journey, so can thousands like me. They need a confirmation that our government is on their side. They need to know we want them back and will create an environment that will let them succeed.

It is up to us. We have the power to make this happen.

Our manufacturers have been wondering in the wilderness too long. It’s time for them to come home.

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