In an effort to win customers, Walmart pledged in a TV ad to buy $250 billion in US-made products over the next decade. But as many of us in the ‘Made in USA’ manufacturing industry know, finding quality, terribly low-cost goods is proving a challenge when the American workforce is fairly waged and environmental regulations are in place.
The Christian Science Monitor reports Walmart has to grapple with a host of challenges, including a shallow pool of component suppliers, an inexperienced workforce, and other shortcomings that developed during the country’s long industrial decline.
“A lot of the tribal knowledge and skill sets are gone because the humans who used to do that work have either retired or died,” says H. Kim Kelley, the CEO of Hampton Products International, a privately held maker of locks, lighting and other household hardware. The Foothill Ranch, California-based company began selling products made in Asia to Walmart in the 1990s and is now supplying it with some U.S.-made products.
The Made in USA “reshoring” issue is so widespread that Walmart is making it the focus of a two-day summit it is hosting in August.
Walmart’s critics say the company bears some responsibility for the diminished capability of U.S. manufacturers. For years, its relentless insistence that suppliers cut costs prompted companies to shut domestic plants and shift production to low-wage countries.
Now, the retailer is asking companies to come back home – though they need little prompting. The forces pulling production back to the United States are powerful and real and include lower domestic energy prices, increasingly competitive wage rates, the benefits of greater automation, and a renewed appreciation for the value of being able to respond quickly to shifting U.S. customer demands. -The Christian Science Monitor
What do you think? Can Walmart and it’s suppliers can pull off a ‘Made in USA’ comeback? Join the discussion below!
The Hamptons, the epicenter of cutting-edge east coast vacation style for metropolitan New Yorkers. As woodcrafters from the Adirondack foothills of New York – the “North Country” – we’ve combined the appeal of coastal living with Adirondack sensibility in the Montauk Collection.
The Montauk Collection features sturdy, solid wood furniture. Handcrafted from solid American ash hardwood and protected with a tough durable exterior finish; each piece reflects the quality and timeless design Manchester Wood: American Made Furniture is known for. The unique foldable design features two-piece construction for easy transport and storage. From indoor to outdoor, lake house to beachfront, patio to the park for a soccer game… furniture that’s as portable or stationary as you want to be.
The Montauk Collection includes the Montauk Chair, the Montauk Double Seat (Love Seat), the Montauk Side Table (End Table), the Montauk Coffee Table, and Montauk Youth Chair (recommended for children 3 to 8). In addition to being ideal for outdoor activities, all pieces function as great stationary furniture in any part of the home and are particularly ideal for small spaces in the apartment or condo. When it’s time to go or to stow away, simply pull apart the two pieces and slide them together, transforming the furniture piece into a carrying case for easy storage. And like all Manchester Wood solid wood furniture, every piece of the Montauk Collection is made in the U.S.A.
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“There is something very American about a Windsor chair. Although its name points to England, where the chair’s style and manufacture emerged in the early 1700s, this immigrant furniture found its way into every American home, from a restful rocker in a small Yankee farm house to the seats of the Founding Fathers in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall.” -WNPR.org
WNPR reports on the Windsor chair, spotlighting it in Making Connecticut, the Connecticut Historical Society’s ongoing exhibit covering more than 400 years of Connecticut history.
Much like the heritage of Shaker furniture we’ve recently discussed. The chair’s simple design made it relatively easy to build and affordable to buy.
In the 18th and early 19th centuries both large and small Connecticut workshops employed apprentices and indentured servants, who often created the separate chair parts in large batches and built the chairs in an assembly-line fashion, cutting cost and time. A typical shop would have a bin full of chair-back spindles, for example, ready to add to a finished seat.
On display in Making Connecticut are a number of Windsor chairs from the Allen shop in Windham, Connecticut. Amos Denison Allen (1774 – 1855) owned a 190-acre farm and ran a shop that employed as many as twelve apprentices at one time. Allen began his career as an apprentice himself at the age of sixteen, working under contract for a furniture maker in Lisbon, Connecticut beginning in 1790. Windsor chairs were shipped up and down the East Coast and transported locally by peddlers on horse-drawn carts. Allen shipped his Windsor chairs to his brother-in-law and agent in Savannah, Georgia. For large shipments, the chair parts were often packed separately to save space. Allen painted his chairs the typical colors of green, yellow, red, black, and brown. Some of the Windsor chairs in the CHS collection appear black today because the green paint has actually darkened over time.
Find more stories through WNPR about early Connecticut craftsmen—and others who shaped Connecticut’s history—by exploring Making Connecticut at the Connecticut Historical Society today. Making Connecticut is open Tuesday through Friday from 12-5 and Saturdays from 9-5.