Growing up in Salina, Kansas, I didn’t expect to have a career in manufacturing—that was the business of my father and grandfather.
Their company, Premier Pneumatics, manufactured pneumatic conveying equipment that processed raw materials through pipelines using air.
While my brother and I have fond memories of summers spent in the Premier Pneumatics materials science and research laboratory, we also watched the manufacturing industry decline as many jobs were outsourced overseas.
When manufacturing companies first started outsourcing 40+ years ago, cost was the only dominant factor to consider. Business leaders knew that cheaper labor abroad yielded higher profits at home. They saw a strategy that expanded operations and provided capital for investments. Outsourcing was a profitable plan on paper, but it cost millions of American workers their jobs.
Today’s landscape is much more complex, and while American business leaders should consider being globally-connected, we must also prioritize locally sourced parts, products, and components.
In 2021, my brother and I founded Precision Parts Fast, a precision CNC machining and 3D printing company in beautiful Englewood, Colorado. We’re on a mission to help reinvigorate the American manufacturing industry—and we’re joining other manufacturing leaders in calling for the reshoring of supply chain operations.
8 Reasons to Invest in American Manufacturing
Let’s explore eight reasons why investing in American manufacturing is critical to the success and prosperity of our fellow citizens and our country.
1. Supply Chain Security and Self-Sufficiency
The American public loses faith in our industry when we can’t get parts and products into their hands on time.
Additionally, we’re vulnerable when we depend on manufacturing from other countries, and unforeseen crises such as the 2021 Suez Canal blockage have repercussions on our economy for months.
By reshoring our operations and investing in American manufacturing, we keep our customers happy—and our economy more self-sufficient.
2. Rising Labor Costs Abroad
Starting in the late 1970s, some of America’s most prominent companies decided to outsource manufacturing jobs globally based on cost benefits alone. Historically, foreign labor has been cheaper than paying an American workforce, but today labor wages are rising in many places around the globe.
Outsourcing is becoming a less enticing option for manufacturing companies; the price gap is narrowing as cost of living rises in formerly underdeveloped countries and workers require higher wages. This increase in labor costs adds to the already high costs and long lead times of transporting foreign-made parts and products to the United States.
3. Evolving Geopolitical Tensions
Relying on foreign labor for manufacturing needs is fraught with risk in a world with evolving geopolitical tensions.
Should relationships sour and tensions escalate between the United States and countries in which we have manufacturing contracts, our country will squander leverage for trade relations. In turn, manufacturing companies could lose access to their products—and significant time and money—because global leaders failed to reach agreements.
Keeping operations stateside ensures that we retain control of our assets and inventory no matter how the geopolitical landscape shifts.
4. Disparate Quality Standards
Not only does the United States have some of the most stringent manufacturing standards in the world, but we also have the ability and oversight to enforce our high standards. When production occurs overseas, American business owners have limited legal jurisdiction should errors or problems arise.
There’s a reason we have the saying, “You get what you pay for.” While many manufacturing companies have chosen to move operations abroad for cheaper foreign labor, bypassing American quality control measures often results in poorly made products.
5. Job Creation and Mitigating the Student Debt Crisis
Restoring American manufacturing increases the value of the American worker.
Manufacturing jobs are shamefully undervalued in today’s society, and not enough high-performance people pursue careers in our industry. We need creators, makers, and inventors to strengthen our economy by producing and selling their parts, products, and components.
When we invest in goods and services made in the USA, we create job opportunities. As domestic production increases, so does the demand for highly skilled workers in the United States. The rise of automation may be shifting the role of the worker but is not eliminating it altogether. As business leaders, we must empower our teams to evolve alongside manufacturing tools and systems while attracting new generations of talented workers.
American manufacturing can also provide an alternative path for our country’s young people and help mitigate the student debt crisis. Most manufacturing jobs don’t require a college degree and still provide a good living. It’s time we let future generations know that spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a university education isn’t the only pathway to success.
6. Research & Development
Research and development (R&D) roles have long been essential to help the manufacturing industry create new technologies and source materials. Still, there is more work to be done: we need to research and develop the manufacturing process itself.
As business leaders, we can accelerate the advancement of the manufacturing economy by thinking critically and creatively about improving processes and reducing production costs.
With our technological prowess, we can be one of the most advanced manufacturing economies in the world if we continue to develop and incorporate more efficient systems to produce our own top-quality parts and products.
7. Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Concerns
Today, American businesses and consumers alike are concerned about environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Manufacturers can achieve ESG goals and attract customers aligned with our values by reshoring our operations.
Localizing our supply chain helps manufacturing companies reduce carbon emissions and our collective environmental footprint. A supply chain centered on American manufacturing requires fewer environmental resources to deliver goods, thus decreasing dependencies on global transportation—a significant contributor to carbon emissions.
Prioritizing sustainability efforts also creates a virtuous cycle of incentivizing clean energy research and development (R&D) partners to source greener manufacturing solutions.
As many American consumers and companies are becoming more environmentally conscious, they are spending more money with companies committed to sustainable business practices. As a result, reshoring manufacturing is not only beneficial to the environment, it will likely lead to more prosperous growth for American manufacturers in the near and long-term future.
8. Consumers are Loyal to American-Made Goods
While many American consumers think globally, they also want to source parts and products made in the United States.
Many modern consumers are value-driven and devoted to the growth and prosperity of the American economy. They’ll pay more for high-quality products from American companies.
By reshoring manufacturing, companies could see a boost in sales simply because their customers are as committed as they are to the future of the United States.
Our country’s sustainable and prosperous future depends on a strong manufacturing climate—and it’s our responsibility to lead the way. We must keep sharing information about the benefits of American manufacturing, educate the public about a self-sufficient and sustainable supply chain, and quell fears about rising costs.
While the manufacturing landscape is much more complicated today than 20-30 years ago, the future will only become more complex. If we start to invest more in American manufacturing now, we’ll invest in our citizens, communities, country, and the global environment for generations to come.
It’s time we rebuild American manufacturing and solidify our legacy as a robust and innovative world leader.
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This article was written by Brian Korbelik
Brian Korbelik is the President and COO of Precision Parts Fast, a precision machining and additive manufacturing company in beautiful Englewood, Colorado.