Is there a future life for U.S. manufacturing? How about U.S. hat making? As we all know, many American manufacturing companies have been forced to close or downsize due to the flood of imports from Asia. Unfortunately, we hear all too often about another manufacturer that has had to close its doors putting more Americans out of work. As president of one of the largest and oldest remaining hat manufacturers in the U.S., I can attest to the painful process of layoffs.
However, there are still consumers in the U.S., Europe, Japan, and elsewhere who place added value on “Made in U.S.A.” products. With U.S. unemployment nearing 10%, I believe there is a renewed interest among Americans to purchase products manufactured by American workers and American companies.
It’s difficult to compete with Asia on pricing given that U.S. labor rates can be 30 times or greater that of China. When you include employee benefits and environmental compliance, the playing field tilts even further. Clearly, manufacturers in the U.S. can’t compete on price alone.
Where we can compete is with a superior product and speed to market. For retailers looking to maintain a tight control in their inventories, U.S. manufacturers can respond quicker by virtue of the travel time to ship by boat or air from abroad alone. If the price is going to be twice as high, the perceived value must be as well. Quality, performance, styling, safety, brand identity, durability, and innovativeness are reasons why consumers might pay more. And, I would again add to this list “Made in the U.S.A.”
It is time to stand up for our jobs and create employment opportunities for our children and our grandchildren. Manufacturing is losing its place in America and that puts our economy into the hands of others. For this reason, The Bollman Hat Company is about to launch “Save an American Job” campaign. We will provide a branded identity for U.S. manufacturers to tell their individual stories with a unified voice. Founders and members of this initiative will choose from a variety of services, branding components, networking opportunities, public relations campaigns, and promotions.
A website is in the works and a membership recruitment drive will kick-off following Independence Day. Independence was the basis for creating the United States: saving American jobs may determine the future of the United States!
Don Rongione, President & CEO, Bollman Hat Company