Rising Demand for Goods Made in America

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    When Ray Minger drives into a parking lot, he finds himself counting the number of American-made vehicles. There are fewer than there used to be.

    "It's hard to see any American cars anymore," said the classic car buff and retired history teacher from Lower Southampton. "It's a shame."

    Minger said he'd also like to look for other U.S.-made goods, but doesn't believe they're out there.

    "I was raised in Philadelphia," he said. "Many a time, I used to go into Frankford to go to a movie. My wife used to go shopping down there. Now, those mills and so forth that used to be in that area no longer are around. Which means no jobs for the people down there."

    The decline in American manufacturing has meant fewer U.S.-made goods on store shelves. But demand for those goods is rising, particularly as the recession has eaten away at American jobs.

    "People (during the recession) really started to think about jobs in a way that was different than the way they thought about jobs before that," said Rob Whittenberger, president of Tyndale USA in Plumstead.

    While Tyndale has enjoyed double-digit growth over the past decade, the company believes the recent increase in demand for its flame-resistant clothing and uniforms is due, at least in part, to its commitment to making its products in the USA.

    "We see emails to customer service saying, 'We love that your product's made in America,' " Whittenberger said. "People post things in our product reviews, 'This is great, it's an American-made shirt; keep jobs in America.' "

    Tyndale, which employs more than 120 workers at its two Plumstead facilities and in sales offices throughout the U.S., contracts directly with utilities, energy companies and other firms to provide clothing that meets industry safety standards.

    Workers at those companies are given catalogs that feature Tyndale's products, along with foreign-made clothing the company sells. Tyndale sells far more USA-made products to those workers than it does foreign-made products, Whittenberger said.

    Even the world's largest retailer is recognizing the demand; earlier this year, Walmart said it would spend an additional $50 billion on U.S.-made goods over the next decade.

    More than 80 percent of U.S. consumers said they'd pay more for American-made products than they would for products labeled "Made in China," according to a survey by The Boston Consulting Group.

    What's more surprising: More than 60 percent of Chinese consumers said they're also willing to pay more for USA-made goods.

    "There are people out there that do want to buy American made," said Logan Beam, director of marketing for the All American Clothing Co. of Ohio, which makes all of its clothes in the U.S. "But there's also events that continue to happen that spark that interest."

    News last summer that the U.S. Olympic Team uniforms had been made in China caused an uproar, and designer Ralph Lauren promised to shift production back to America for the next Olympic games.

    The presidential election also raised awareness of manufacturing in America, Beam said, and "ABC World News" featured U.S. manufacturers in its popular "Made in America" series.

    "You have high percentages (of people) that care to buy American," Beam said. "What the problem is, they can't find it. It's not advertised. It's not marketed. You have to do some really, really good research to find a USA-made product."

    Industry groups like American Made Matters and AmericansWorking.com are trying to change that by creating databases of consumer goods companies that manufacture their products in the United States.

    "I think people don't know where to look, and I think a lot of American manufacturers are missing the boat," said AmericansWorking.com publisher David Riley. "They need to put on their product, 'Made in America.' They need to advertise that fact."

    A recent poll by Harris Interactive found that consumers most prefer American-made appliances, furniture, clothes and automobiles. In all categories, more than 70 percent of respondents said it was important or very important to "buy American" for those types of products.

    Harris found demand is higher for consumers who are 48 and older than it is for those ages 18 to 35, and women put more importance on U.S.-made goods than men.

    Job security was the driving force behind the demand, the survey found, with two-thirds replying that keeping jobs in America is "very important."

    Made in the U.S. has proven successful for the Viking Yacht Co., a Bass River, N.J., business whose yachts cost from $1 million to $7 million.

    "We are positioned as the number one boat builder in the world," said Pat Healey, son of company founder Bill Healey. "We like the view from the top of the mountain and we're not going to give it up." Back at Tyndale, "Made in the USA" has become a mantra.

    "We find that we can compete on price," Whittenberger said. "Our products, from yarn all the way to the finished goods to all the services Tyndale has, it's all made in the USA. We knew we can compete against the world's largest apparel manufacturer. We work really hard to do it."

    Recently, Tyndale unveiled a new logo, a silver shield featuring an eagle and the American flag, to stand for its safety standards and its commitment to making goods in the U.S. Said Barbara Fitzgeorge, vice president of marketing: "It really embodies who we are as a company."

     


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