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Does Walmart ‘Made in the USA’ Work?

June 27, 2014

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.

Walmart 'Made in USA'

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!

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1 Comment

  • Reply Gloria Laundrie July 3, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Wal-Mart can begin its crusade for American made goods, with Manchester Wood being one of the best, along with a few others making quality goods at decent prices. However, people must care about each other, and while complaints are raised about minimum wage issues as being bad for business and that’s why businesses moved, that isn’t why businesses moved. They moved to make more money, to build and provide cheaper products and services. So now the only place you see profit growing, is in the stock market, which if you watch the financial networks as I do, promote investments in foreign emerging markets, and don’t care a whit about those who need a living wage. I have all of Manchester Wood’s Buy American products, and love them, the quality and workmanship are wonderful. We won a wonderful bookcase on wheels that is marvelous to use, and have also bought at special price an occasional table that also folds up, and which provides much enjoyed space for serving, for writing, for occasional use, as I term its design. Which brings me back to Wal-Mart. I do notice that there are items offered by you through the Vermont Country Catalog, and they are a provider of much made in America. Not enough, however. What happened in this society was the promotion of spending at all costs, so that while Wal-Mart began with the idea of American made, Americans wanted more and more stuff for the disposable income they had. So the sources became outside the country, where products with American names, whether clothing or hardware or coffee pots and toasters, were now being made in those countries in order for the American corporations to make more money for themselves. In other words, those corporations with tried and true names, like Maytag, left the country, taking away well paying jobs, not so that more people could afford their products, but so they as corporations owned by people who wanted more themselves, could have more. A case in point: We bought a used Maytag washer and dryer over 30 years ago, at an estate sale. Made in America, in Illinois, it is still going strong. No repairs necessary, ever, in that time. Once we as consumers decide we want the best products, we will get those producers of producers back home. Then those working part time jobs and low wages will work for those companies and produce again the kinds of products that Manchester Wood produces. As an aside, I would love Manchester Wood to develop a line of small sized furniture for dolls, and even dollhouses. It would make a fun occupation for some of your workers, and you might even have to hire more. That’s my spiel for today. Have a wonderful 4th of July. I should mention that those of us who are older, on fixed incomes, with many expenses, still love to buy things that last. It’s just a lot harder to manage buying lots of stuff. So we polish old furniture, and re-paint outdoor metal furniture, and have a 20 year old mobile home for transportation. That’s how it is. So back to the beginning idea: When the young people have money to spend, they will buy American, things that will last, and that will happen when production comes back to the USA. One company I know of is bringing back factories sent to India some years ago, as well as another back from China. They will spend less using workers here, who will be less burdensome because our country has manufacturing standards….as long as certain legislators and corporations don’t have their way to lessen them.

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