Red, White and Blue-Tested, Tried and True

Jul 8, 2013

The timecards have been punched and sleeves are rolled up. American manufacturing is back at work, proving its resiliency once again.

It was only a few short years ago when some factories were gutted, labor was reduced and manufacturing progressed like molasses. The Great Recession knocked us down, but we’ve learned that a fettered economy will never knock us out.

So far, 2013 has represented a bellwether year for domestic economic growth. The stock market has made double-digit gains, the housing market is finally kicking, and U.S. manufacturing has continued its streak of expansion in every month but two since August 2009, according to the Institute for Supply Management. The nation’s economy has grown for nearly 20 consecutive months.

Most importantly, American jobs are finally being created and filled. Between November and February, the monthly average of new U.S. jobs surged to 237,000, according to data provided by the Labor Department.

However, plenty of work still remains before we realize complete economic recovery. The road back toward prominence is the one less traveled, as evidenced by the automakers Ford, Chrysler, and GM all deciding to reduce or eliminate their regularly scheduled summer plant shutdowns.

According to a recent report by Nick Bunkley of Automotive News, “Automakers now are running many plants around the clock to keep up with rising demand yet proceeding cautiously to ensure they don’t get ahead of the market.

“The result is big profits all around and little danger-¦of resuming old habits of overproduction and fire-sale discounts.”

Detroit is helping lead North American auto production toward reaching 16 million units for the first time since 2002-outpacing last year’s mark by 4 percent.

The positive momentum doesn’t stop there. Three major U.S. corporations have made headlines this year by committing additional resources toward enhancing their “American-Made” labels.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company will invest $100 million to build a Mac product linein Austin, Texas, and draw from component suppliers in Illinois and Florida, and equipment makers in Kentucky and Michigan.

Walmart also says it will spend an extra $50 billion on U.S.-made goods during the next decade; and General Electric is investing $1 billion through 2014 to revitalize its U.S. appliances business.

These three initiatives are noteworthy, but only worth an asterisk in an ever-expanding world marketplace. American consumers understand that their demand ensures U.S.-made products will continue to be sold, but also that the supply of cheap foreign labor remains too great to tilt the market (and available manufacturing jobs) entirely in their favor.

What “American-Made” means will continue to evolve. What’s certain, as we emerge from a Great Recession that eerily mimicked another period of “Great” tribulation more than 80 years ago, is that the American spirit breeds a unique form of perseverance. One way or another, we will lead our way to the top.

It is Restyling’s dedication to the American-Made spirit that lends me the privilege of introducing our July issue, which for a second consecutive year features the Made in the U.S.A. Product Showcase. Using your digital Restyling subscription, you can access this showcase on pages 12-31 for this year’s “who’s who” of American restyling suppliers.

Happy 237th Independence Day.

As always, thanks for reading.