Made in the USA?
Simon Watts & Michael Dresdner
Q. I would like to start a home workshop and have one requirement: all my tools must be made in USA. In looking in woodworking magazine and catalogs, MADE IN USA seems to be a non-issue. Manufactures don't mention it and consumers don't seem to care.
Simon Watts: "I recently bought a Grundig short-wave radio--a fine example of high-end German engineering, or so I thought. On discovering otherwise and raising the alarm I was told blandly: 'All our products are made in China.' So good luck on your quest."
Michael Dresdner: "This is probably more apocryphal than true, but it certainly addresses your issue. The story goes that an American company decided to favor American made cars by allowing them to park in a closer lot than foreign cars. That only worked until someone pointed out that many "foreign" cars, like Toyota, Volkswagen, and Nissan, had manufacturing plants here in the US, so going by name alone would not work. In fact, one company offered certain models that were made both in the US and in Japan, and the only way to tell them apart was by serial number. In addition, they found out that most American cars use a large portion of foreign parts in their manufacture. They decided to investigate in order to set a percentage of American parts or labor as the minimum requirement. When the dust cleared, they were unable to find ANY American car that had no foreign parts, and in fact found only one that had more than 60% American parts.
"This is not so surprising. There is very little that we manufacture here in the US because most folks don't want manufacturing jobs. We'd rather farm out that work to others who will do it for less, and keep the research, service, and management jobs for ourselves. How many of you reading this have jobs where you make a physical product?
"I'm not sure why you want American only tools (quality? job security for the US?) but the bottom line is: We live in a global economy. Every worker anywhere in the world who is making money and buying goods helps every other worker in the world keep his or her job. Quality is connected to a company's ethic, not to where that company is physically located. I would worry about the quality of a company's product and their customer support instead of where their plants are located. And I certainly hope the countries that we export to are not prejudiced about buying American made products."
This article originally appeared in the Woodworker's Journal eZine.
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