In the performance aftermarket more so than many others, the distinction of “Made in the USA” still means something.
Customers ask about it, manufacturers tout it on their packaging and in advertising, and shops can take advantage by promoting Made-in-America product selections or sales that appeal to patriotic buyers wanting to keep their money here at home.
It was in recognition of that aspect of the market that we introduced our Made in the USA product roundup last July, and it makes a triumphant return this year.
At the same time last year in this space we also introduced you to Jhan Dolphin and Forge Ahead USA—a national campaign aimed at assisting companies in promoting their Made-in-America offerings. That effort also made a triumphant return this year, including a notable showing in the high-profile One Lap of America race, an eight-day trek over more than 4,000 miles.
The Midwest-based Prefix/Forge Ahead USA team earned a podium finish, placing third overall in a field of more than 60 teams. Drivers Steve Loudin and Tom Drewer piloted their Dodge Viper SRT-10 from Indiana to Louisiana to Florida and back to Indiana—promoting the importance of buying American-made products, supporting U.S. manufacturers and recycling dollars back into the national economy all along the way.
“We are so proud of the team and the way they promoted ‘Made in the USA,’” said Kim Zeile of Prefix, the team’s title sponsor. “We combined the products from a variety of American companies to create a very powerful car, but the message we sent about buying American products was even more powerful. American-made is back, in a big way!”
The effort was also supported by Whelen Engineering, Archer Racing, Forgeline Wheels, American Racing Headers, Arrow Racing, Tricel Corp., K&N Engineering, CORSA Performance, PartsRack, Thule and Jason Industries.
Meanwhile, as the Forge Ahead group was raising awareness in the Southeast, another aftermarket company was talking “Made in the USA” in California.
Dylan Sievers was only 17 when he founded Bulldog Lighting, which makes LED light bars for off-road vehicles. Now 19, in May he helped spearhead state Senate Bill 661, which would allow California companies to market their products as American-made if at least 75 percent of their components are manufactured in the U.S.
That 75-percent rate is the federal standard, but California law currently mandates that 100-percent of a product be manufactured domestically in order to legally be called “American-made.”
Sievers argued that the disparity places an unfair disadvantage on California firms, because there are some products that include components that are simply not available in the United States.
As of this writing, the bill was still working its way through the California Legislature, and had been amended to require a 90-percent total domestic manufacturing cost. More discussion was planned through the summer.
As part of the effort, however, Sievers said he hopes to one day see a “Made in America” certification process, and also hopes that buyers will pay more attention to where the things they purchase are manufactured.
“Consumers have a choice, but we hope that they will support the U.S.-made product that employs Americans,” he said.
Particularly in the performance aftermarket, where the distinction continues to carry weight with many enthusiasts.