Here are some things we have learned as well as some things we believe about manufacturing in the USA:
Fact: Loss of manufacturing jobs is not the same as a loss of manufacturing:
The US manufacturing sector has gradually been transformed to focus primarily on sophisticated items that require fewer skilled workers to produce but create far greater value than many lower end consumer products that are mainly made overseas. Some US manufacturers have been able to continue producing lower cost items using highly automated machines and fewer people. Further, the loss in manufacturing jobs is not limited to the USA – it is a GLOBAL phenomenon. Yet, the dollar value of the manufacturing sector’s output generally rose until 2007.
Bottom Line: While sales are maintained and even ROSE until 2007, the number of people required to generate those sales, fell.
Fact: As manufacturing jobs were lost, the service sector grew.
This phenomena has put a strain on the lower socioeconomic classes since traditionally, manufacturing jobs provided a more viable option for people with lower skills or less education. Even today, manufacturing remains the best work place for those who don’t have a college degree in terms of wages and benefits. Unlike most service jobs, the manufacturing sector continues to provide a path for those who start in lower paying positions, and then rise to management.
Our Response: We at MTI believe that having a strong middle class is important to the health of our country. By providing good jobs in manufacturing, we believe we are helping to strengthen the middle class. Our goal is to create a safe work environment that provides job satisfaction for our employees.
Fact: One in every twelve US manufacturing workers is employed by a foreign-owned firm.
US manufacturers have increasingly moved production to foreign soil, where emerging markets provide new customers and where skilled labor is relatively cheap.
MTI Response: We will work hard to be efficient AND innovative so that by being competitive, we can keep jobs in the USA.
Fact: The United States is beginning to rely on other countries to manufacture even high-value products.As more work goes out of the country, the United States could begin to lose its edge in research and development. This is particularly true in emerging areas such as solar technology, compact fluorescent lighting where foreign companies are not just manufacturing products but increasingly doing the design and product development work. When production is separate from innovation, the innovation can be lost. Certain foreign countries have a growing number of skilled engineers and scientists, while the US is having trouble finding workers in those fields.
Our Response: Having our only manufacturing facility in the USA allows our company to experiment with new approaches. MTI takes great pride in doing research and development at our Sugar Hill facility. We have introduced many innovations and have secured several patents; we have worked with our suppliers to improve upon designs for certain whirlpool and air system parts used in our production; we have worked with our suppliers to test new materials in an effort to decrease the carbon footprint of our industry. We have created over 150 new bath tub, sink and shower base designs, winning more design awards than any other tub manufacturer. We try not to outsource our R & D because we learn so much during the process.
What does the future hold?Those who study the history of manufacturing in the USA believe a possible future for the US Manufacturing Sector is that it could be comprised of smaller US companies which are able to make niche products that most Americans have never heard of, such as specialty parts and custom products. Quite often due to the expense of moving product from overseas to the USA, these smaller companies can operate competitively and profitably.
This is where we see the MTI position. We believe we will be able to continue to come up with cutting edge designs, production improvements and other innovations. We believe that there will be a market for product which can be delivered to consumers as they need it – customized but just in time. We will continue to be dedicated to providing superior quality product and service for the US consumer – proudly “Made in the USA”.