Tuesday, December 10, 2013
So, who's been a good boy this year?!
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Sunday, September 08, 2013
Tuesday, August 06, 2013
It made headlines when Apple announced plans to make a product in the U.S., but considering the scale of their manufacturing effort, this nibble seems more symbolic than anything else…
One of my favorite “made in USA” ad campaigns was Chrysler’s “Imported from Detroit” campaign. Fellow Michigan-based company Carhartt has now teamed up with Chrysler to promote “Imported from Detroit” clothing. Several years ago, Carhartt launched a “Made in USA” line (designed in Michigan, but made at factories in Kentucky and Tennessee) for shoppers who were frustrated with the growing imported content in Carhartt offerings. (Check out the "Imported from Detroit" video on the Carhartt site).
Carhartt was not the first company to feel the wrath of consumers when globalization “realities” ran up against customer brand loyalty based in part on the brand’s “made in USA” credentials. Think Craftsman, whose gradual shift away from US-made hand tools has fueled a mini-storm on the Internet.
New Balance, which has been somewhat of a hero among the “Buy American” crowd as the one remaining large-scale producer of US-made running shoes, has recently expanded to 18 the number of styles that are made at its U.S. factories. Their website uses prominent logos to indicate which styles are “made in USA” (which they define as 70 percent or greater U.S. content) or “assembled in USA” (if less than 70 percent). New Balance also has launched a new ad campaign, “America is for the Makers” that emphasizes the company’s 75-year tradition of New England manufacturing.
A recent investment article from Charles Schwab & Co. listed companies that reportedly are shifting some additional manufacturing to the U.S., in what is often called “insourcing” or “re-shoring." As the article notes, however, increases in exports include exports of energy sources, like U.S. coal, and shale oil and natural gas (including production by the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”)—but that’s a topic for another day.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Celia Rachel makes wonderful sheets at their North Carolina mill, and now offers jersey knit and flannel sheets, plus flannel comforters and blankets, in the Twin XL size perfect for dorm beds.
Over the last few years, I have purchased 3 sets of the Celia Rachel jersey knit sheets and they are soft and cozy, and generously sized so there is no wrestling match to get them over the mattress pad!
Great news for those of us packing up teenagers for college this fall.
Stephanie, Webmaster and Chief Shopper
Thursday, August 09, 2012
However, I am aghast at the mailings I am receiving from companies urging me to "Reserve your loved one's Back to School care package today"! Have we really gotten so lazy that we do not have time to put together a small "care package" for our kids away from home to make them feel remembered and cared for??
Maybe this trend is only new to me, but I think it is ridiculous! How special would someone feel to get a box of junk food, warmly packed and shipped by a company and paid for with mom's credit card?!
Yikes. Please tell me I am not the only one that feels this way.
Sunday, July 29, 2012
Luckily I discovered another-- I think better-- option for dorm bedding from a young company called American Made Dorm. Here is what the company president, Caroline Eager, told me about her Louisville, Kentucky-based business:
“American Made Dorm will celebrate its first year in business in September. All of our products - 100% - are made in America. Our mill (Victor Mill) is in Greenville, South Carolina, and we get our fabric from Mississippi. The comforters are completely manufactured, sewn, and filled in our mill with fabric that is printed in Mississippi and fill that is made in North Carolina. Our towels are from 1888 Mills, made in Griffin, Georgia, and our sheets from Mayfield Manufacturing. Our rugs from Milliken (South Carolina, “Crafted with pride in the USA"), our mattress pads and toppers from Louisville Bedding, made in both Kentucky and South Carolina, and our wall pops are made in Massachusetts! “
I took the plunge and ordered the American Dorm Bundle from American Made Dorm, and did a direct comparison of the two company’s offerings for myself (see below for the details). The American Made Dorm set was about $100 more than the set from RHL, but came with 2 sets of plush 1888 Mills towels, higher thread count sheets, and a much nicer comforter with matching pillow sham, decorative pillow and laundry bag.
Bottom Line: If you can afford the extra money (remember this should last for years), then I definitely recommend the American Made Dorm products as much nicer quality and truly made in USA.
All American Collection from Residence Hall Linens: $190
- Pillows: 2 Standard size, filled with polyester fill, Filled in USA, cover made in Pakistan
- Twin XL sheets: 2 sets, 60/40 cotton/polyester, 200 thread count, Made in USA by Thomaston Mills (Thomaston, GA)
- Mattress Pad, Twin XL: Made in USA of imported and USA materials by Louisville Bedding Co. (Louisville, KY)
- Memory Foam Mattress Topper: Made in USA
- Towels: 2 bath, 1 hand, 1 wash cloth, 100 percent cotton, Soft, but thin. Made in USA (no manufacturer name)
- Comforter: 100 percent polyester, Slippery, not cozy. Made in Pakistan
American Made Dorm: Cost $299
- Pillows: 1 Decorative, Color matches comforter trim. Expressly Made for American Made Dorm, Made in USA by Victor Mill, Inc. (Greenville, SC)
- Twin XL sheets: 1 set, 100 percent cotton, 300 count, Silky feel. Made in USA by Mayfield Manufacturing (Thomson, GA)
- Mattress Pad, Twin XL: Beautyrest microfiber mattress pad, 200 thread count. Made in USA of imported and USA materials by Louisville Bedding Co. (Louisville, KY)
- Towels: 2 bath, 2 hand, 2 wash cloths. 100 percent ring spun cotton loops, Thick and soft! Millennium by 1888 Mills, Made in USA
- Comforter: 100 percent cotton duck, Expressly Made for American Made Dorm, Made in USA by Victor Mill, Inc. (Greenville, SC)
- Pillow Sham and Laundry bag made from fabric to match comforter, 100 percent cotton duck, by Victor Mill.
[Disclosure: I have no affiliation with either of these companies other than as a customer.]
Stephanie, Webmaster and Mom
Friday, November 25, 2011
As ABC News keeps reminding us, if we all buy something made in USA we can make a difference. So, let's give the economy a boost by buying American-made products! Happy Holidays!
Stephanie, Webmaster and Junior Elf
Saturday, September 24, 2011
When Oneida closed their last U.S. facility in 2005, it looked like there would be no more American-made stainless flatware. Then, the facility was purchased by two former Oneida employees and reopened as Sherrill Manufacturing! The new owners have worked hard to keep a toe-hold in the U.S. market. When orders were not high enough to keep the factory open, they were forced to lay off employees and close their doors in 2010. However, the owners refused to sell off the equipment in hopes of restarting production in the future.
Shoppers who have been holding out for American flatware now have that option and an opportunity to demonstrate that there is market demand for this product category. So, go shopping!
More good news! Faribault Woolen Mill (Faribault, MN) also is having a second lease on life! The mill is having a grand reopening this month, thanks to two local investors. The company’s new tag line is “The Revival of American Excellence.”
This wonderful mill, which had been making beautiful blankets since 1877, had closed in 2009. At one time, air travelers could snuggle up for an in-flight nap with a Faribault Mill blanket. Now we get a blanket made in China (and we pay extra for the privilege!).
As cool nights approach, I will get out my Faribault Mill blanket made from Ingeo, a corn starch-based fiber. Welcome back, Faribault Woolen Mill!
[Disclosure: I do not have any financial relationships with any of the companies mentioned in this article.]
Monday, March 21, 2011
My usual response is to donate to the American Red Cross.
Turning closer to home, I finally came across my notes about a wonderful website that was set up by a private citizen in Bellingham, WA, called GivingAnon.org. The site allows donors to give anonymously to a friend in need, as a way to help without invading the recipient's sense of privacy. I loved this idea when I heard about it some time ago on NBC Nightly News. So often, one wants to help out a friend (or even a stranger) but without causing him or her embarrassment. This site is terrific.
Feeling grateful for what I have...
Saturday, January 01, 2011
|Vague Resolution||Quantitative Target|
|1. Eat less, exercise more.||Lose at least 1 pound per month. Exercise at least 30 minutes each day. (Walking stairs counts!)|
|2. Spend less, save more.||Monthly fixed contribution to savings.|
|3. Read more.||Read one book per month.|
|4. Grow my website, StillMadeinUSA.com||Goal of 100,000 visitors per month. Do a blog post once in awhile.|
I'm into data, so I pulled together some statistics on my weight and my website. As shown below, both have been trending up over the last 6 years since the website was launched.
I’m against “junk science”, so I can’t claim that there is a causal relationship between my weight and the number of shoppers using my website. However, you will agree that this is very suspicious!!
Very best wishes to all for a wonderful New Year!
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Friday, February 12, 2010
"that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Saturday, April 04, 2009
Dorel Industries, headquartered in Montreal, entered the bicycle business in 2004 with its acquisition of Pacific Cycle. After acquiring Cannondale in February 2008, Dorel separated its bicycle business into two divisions, with Pacific Cycle focusing on mass market retailers (e.g., Kmart, WalMart, and ToysRUs) and Cannondale Sports Group focusing on the more up-scale cycling market (sales through independent bicycle shops). The company hoped to capitalize on Cannondale’s legacy of handcrafted bicycles and competitive cycling. Cannondale Sports Group, now renamed Cycling Sports Group, is composed of 4 cycling brands: Cannondale, Schwinn, GT, and Mongoose.
Dorel Industries is better known to many consumers as the parent company of baby product brands, including COSCO, Safety 1st, and Mother’s Choice. The company’s website proclaims this rather odd combination of interests, with a slogan “Dorel: A World Class Juvenile Products and Bicycle Company.” Welcome to the strange world of multinational conglomerate corporations.
I guess I had better speed up my plans to buy an American-made Cannondale bike!
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
To combat the sense that nothing good is happening, I offer two great stories of American-made products being launched. Dr. Brown’s Baby Bottles are now almost all made in USA, in St. Louis! Great news for expecting and new moms worried about contaminants in baby products. Dr. Brown’s bottles, made by Handi-Craft Co., come in glass or BPA-free polypropylene and are available at Kids R Us and many other retailers.
On the cooking front, Americraft Cookware of West Bend, WI has just launched a new line of waterless cookware called 360 Cookware that is made in USA. These are high-quality cooking pans made from 7 layers of stainless steel and aluminum, with water-tight lids that allow cooking with less water or oil than traditional cookware. In the past, the Americraft cookware was available only from live cooking demonstrations. However, the new 360 Cookware can be purchased online. The products are not cheap, but very well made and will last a lifetime—the website has a great video about the manufacturing process. (Maybe this will help me get over my disappointment at no more American-made Revere Ware!)
And finally, I came across a gorgeous example of designer rugs being made in USA…check out Barbara Barran’s hand-knotted and hand-tufted rugs, made in North Carolina and Georgia. She features a number of designs based on quilt patterns by the women of Gee's Bend, AL, and she told me that the quilters receive a royalty for each sale.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
“the seatback to suddenly fall back or detach from the high chair. Children can fall out or collide with objects [like the floor?!] and suffer broken bones, abrasions, cuts and bruises.”
According to an article on MSNBC, the high chairs in question are made in China. The recall once again raises concerns about the quality control being exercised by American companies that have outsourced their production overseas, and whether the Consumer Product Safety Commission can be everywhere at once.
Shoppers will be hard-pressed to find high chairs still made in the United States, but here are a few suggestions:
--Little Colorado, which makes solid wood furniture for little people in Denver, CO
--Rochelle Furniture, which makes beautiful wooden high chairs in Ludington, MI
To find sources for baby furniture and baby gear made in USA, visit my Baby Gear page.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
MBeze, a skincare and cosmetics company founded by Mary Beth Worzella, first caught my eye because of the visually stunning graphics on the website. I commented to Mary Beth that if the scents were anywhere near as wonderful as the graphic design, she had a winner!
Now that I have tested out a number of MBeze products, I am happy to report that they are every bit as lovely as I expected. The scents range from light and floral, to exotic, to bold. Packaging is elegantly simple. And, product ingredients read like a botanical directory rather than an organic laboratory textbook.
MBeze offers a number of scent collections, each of which comes in a natural oil perfume, body mist, body oil, and deodorant. Cruzee was an instant favorite of mine, with a light but intense floral scent. I also loved Once Bitten, with its soft and subtle blend of apple blossom and vanilla, and Koko with its traces of coconut.
The perfume oils come in a handy roll-on applicator, small enough to tuck into an evening purse for a refresher. Another favorite product of mine was the little Deodorette, also a purse-sized product that is easy to take along for a day out or for travel. Used in combination with the Dabber Dust, a clay-based antiperspirant powder, the Deodorette kept me fresh and dry during a recent public speaking engagement. “Look Mom, no aluminum chlorohydrate!”
Check it out. I think you’ll love these products! All made in USA, of course.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
If you would like to see a Buy-American, green energy lovin' webgoddess in the White House, join me!
Here is a summary of my qualifications:
Let's work together to CHANGE AMERICA. (Campaign motto: "What we change is less important than the fact that we changed.")
Thursday, September 04, 2008
However, looking beyond the common theme of manufacturing moving to cheaper countries, I see another example of a small town losing a part of its history and identity.
DeWitt, Nebraska boasts on its town home page that it is “Home of Vise-Grip Tools.” In a town with only 650 residents, Irwin Industrial Tool, maker of Vice-Grip tools, was the key employer. But more than that, the town and the tool company’s history were intertwined from the early 1930’s when the Vise-Grip locking wrench was invented by a Danish immigrant to DeWitt named William Petersen.
The town website describes the lifeblood of the community as agriculture and the tool manufacturer, saying “DeWitt, while a town of only 650 people, is a community that has a lot going for it. It has made its mark worldwide through its good people, the products of the factory, and the purebred breeding stock of its specialized agricultural ventures.” I guess now they’re down to just agriculture.
The other oft-repeated story line is sale of the family-owned business in 1984, followed by a string of acquisitions and corporate ownerships, culminating in its current status as a subsidiary of Newell-Rubbermaid. Not surprising, really, that the folks at the corporate office can make the decision to take production to China, closing down the DeWitt factory and severing the long association between another little town and its home-grown manufacturing employer.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Here are my favorite product discoveries so far:
US-made organic cotton towels by 1888 Mills in Griffin, GA: These soft and fluffy towels, white with subtle accent colors (I chose sesame), are dreamy and quite affordable. The 3-piece set, with bath towel, hand towel, and wash cloth, was just $14.88. The hard part for me was that they are only available from WalMart. (I know, I know! Egad.) 1888 Mills usually only sells in quantities to the hotel trade, and I was having a hard time finding a good source for their products. I guess this is an instance where I must give WalMart credit for making a wonderful American-made product available to the individual consumer. I did call 1888 Mills, and a kind gentleman indicated that there might be additional venues for their wonderful towels in the coming months. I will check back with the company and update my Bed & Bath listings when I learn more.
Cotton Sheets from Mayfield Manufacturing in Thomson, GA: This was another great find, since I needed several sets of twin sheets. I chose the 300 thread-count set, and the feel and quality is very nice. I did notice, however, that the seams are 7 stitches per inch, as opposed to the 8 stitches per inch I was accustomed to with the Martha Stewart sheets by Westpoint Stevens (the latter are now all imported). I am an EXTREMELY infrequent mender, so I pay attention to these things because items that go onto my mending pile almost never return. I also give high marks to the family-owned business in Michigan, US-Mattress.com, who carries the Mayfield sheets. Their customer service was very friendly, and shipping was quick.
Shower/pool shoes from Okabashi in Buford, GA: I had been looking for an excuse to try some Okabashi flip flops, and I was very impressed with their solid construction and extremely comfortable feel. These are not your dime-store flip flops, and they come with a 2-year guarantee! In addition to pairs for the kids, I finally got the brown and pink thongs I had been lusting after. I received free shipping, and our shoes came in just a few days. (My son slipped his on and said, “Wow, these are really comfortable!”)
Athletic Shorts by Sovereign Manufacturing in Allentown, PA: these are very high quality shorts made from a heavy, silky polyester fabric in lots of great colors. My son likes his shorts long, so I was able to order the Tall sizes from Big and Tall World.
Well, that’s the update from the shopping wars. I can’t vouch for his grades, but at least my son will be outfitted with nothing but the best!
Saturday, May 03, 2008
The use of wind to do work is hardly new…think of sailing ships and wind mills. However, use of wind to generate electricity is just coming of age, with refined turbine technologies and advanced composite materials. To date, American consumers have had few opportunities to purchase wind-generated electricity. Although installed wind power rose 45% in 2007 over 2006, wind still accounts for just a few percent of total electricity generation in the U.S.
Even where the winds are “made in USA,” the turbines are mostly made in Denmark or other European countries. Driven by their commitments to reduce carbon dioxide emissions associated with fossil fuel burning, European countries have pushed ahead on development of wind and other alternative energy technologies.
The fun part of this story is that there are a few companies in the US that make small, residential-scale wind turbines that can be purchased and installed at reasonable prices.
Southwest Windpower (West Flagstaff, AZ): since 1987, this company has specialized in small wind-driven generators, including wind turbine assemblies suited for residential or farm use. The Skystream 3.7 is a 3-bladed turbine that comes complete with built-in alternator, inverter, and noise isolator. Optional remote monitoring system allows users to receive real-time data on power generation on a home computer. The Skystream is mounted on a pole or tower, purchased separately, and the company recommends that it be about 20 feet above surrounding objects (e.g., roofline or trees). The entire unit is designed to be maintenance-free for 20 years.
The Skystream is connected to the house, via a 220 volt line with a safety disconnect switch, to a dedicated breaker on the main electrical panel. When the wind is blowing, electric power is generated, and used by the home. (Excess power flows into the electric grid, and depending on the utility’s policies, may generate a credit.). The Southwest Windpower website includes helpful information about working with your local utility and zoning officials when installing the wind turbine. (The Skystream also can be used for homes that use battery backup, as a complement to solar panels or other off-grid technology.)
The turbine operates with wind speeds as low as 8 mph, and has a safety feature that shuts down the turbine at wind speeds of 56 mph. In order to generate electricity of appropriate frequency and voltage, the unit is designed to maintain 330 rpm blade revolution speed even at higher wind speeds. (That means that only a portion of wind energy can be captured at wind speeds greater than about 20 mph.)
I noticed that Southwest Windpower products are available at NorthernTool, as well as from regional distributors that can also help with installation.
To learn more about wind power, check out these links:
Bergey WindPower Co. (Norman, OK) also manufactures small wind turbines for home or farm applications
Green Pricing Programs, where utilities allow consumers to pay a premium (in cents per kWh) for electricity from renewables
American Wind Energy Association gathers data on growth of wind power capacity in the U.s.
Energy Information Agency provides data on renewables as a percentage of overall electricity generation in the U.S.
The Danish Wind Industry Association runs a very nice, informative website on wind power
Saturday, April 26, 2008
There is a “good news, bad news” aspect to the story, however. According to an April 7 article in the Charleston Daily Mail, the company will make some changes in how it does business, including development of a new division (Fenton International) that will sell glass products made in China. Still, the West Virginia factory will continue to turn out beautiful art glass, hopefully for many years to come. It will be up to consumers to determine whether this story is one of a fabled company surviving by importing product, or surviving because of a loyal customer base that appreciates the beauty of Fenton art glass.
Although I always associated Fenton with those candy dishes that grandmothers have on their coffee tables, in fact the company has a rather astonishing range of designs and glass styles. Enjoy the renewed option to own something beautiful, made in West Virginia.
Sunday, April 13, 2008
I think the “buy American” sites that focus on doing battle, doing without, or doing it to other countries (!) are tapping into our self-doubts rather than our self-confidence.
Buy American is more than tee shirts and jeans, and grim-faced guys in union halls! It is a joyous endeavor that celebrates American creativity, quality and style. The layoffs and plant closures are real, and not just a statistical oddity, but we will solve nothing by giving in to despair.
We still make some great products, so let’s get our chin off our chest, unwring our hands, and go shopping. (On the Internet, of course!).
Here are a few of my recent favorites.
Stephanie (aka, Pollyanna), Webmaster
Hoy Saltwater Sandals
Friday, April 11, 2008
As a parent I have observed the following: soccer-kicking, Halo-playing, skateboard-riding, Harry Potter-reading teens and tweens don’t have TIME to make their beds! Or so they say. (In fact, some days they seem hardly to have time to go to school. Hmm.)
Last night I was “googling” for American-made sheets (scarce as hen’s teeth) and I came across a company that makes sheets for RVs, campers, bunk beds and other special situations. Humboldt Specialty, in Omaha, NE has come up with a great kid-friendly feature. Their sheet sets have the top sheet attached to the bottom sheet at the foot. They discuss the benefits of this for making beds in tight corners and keeping the sheets on the bed where they belong. I immediately saw the application to kids who can’t/won’t make their beds.
Most mornings when I go to wake the kids, their top sheet is wadded in a ball at the base of the bed or totally off and on the floor. When they “make” their beds, they just pull the quilt over the sheets, wads and all. No “hospital corners” in our house! For all of us who are getting our kids ready to go off to boarding school or college in the fall, the Humboldt sheets seem like a godsend.
I am ordering some to try out. Give it a look and let me know what you think!
Friday, January 04, 2008
The holiday shopping season was fast and furious, especially for American-made toys. Perhaps there was a silver lining to the lead paint toy recalls?! Before I close the book on 2007, I want to thank the many thousands of shoppers who visited StillMadeinUSA.com and especially those of you who wrote with suggestions, criticisms, or other feedback. Because of your emails, the site grew by several hundred listings just in the last few months! Every time I “discover” a great product or company, I remember why I spend so much time on this project.
Resolutions for 2008
Okay, we all have to do this. It serves a purpose if it helps us focus on things we want to accomplish or improve in the coming year.
1) Get in shape. For me, this doesn’t mean eating only grapefruit or joining a gym (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), but I resolve to move around more and eat less.
2) Live within my means. When times were tight, I borrowed from my family but now I have paid everyone back.
3) Stay in touch with friends and family. There is no excuse for being too busy to write or call or visit occasionally!
4) Overhaul my website. This is long overdue, and the site is not as useful to visitors as it could be.
5) Finish up my schoolwork. It’s just possible that I am wearing out my welcome at George Mason!
Perhaps in partial fulfillment of Resolution 4 (?!), I have posted a “beta-version” of an All-American Store, courtesy of Amazon.com. I often receive email from shoppers who wish for a store that sold only American-made products. There are a few virtual stores that try to fill this niche, but they tend to have limited selection and look similar to each other because they are relying on drop shipping from the same handful of suppliers. One attraction of the Amazon Store is that it allows me to hand-pick products to feature, there is no inventory, and no customer service or shipping hassles. The downside, however, is that there is also no profit! (Alright, I’m exaggerating. They pay a 4 percent commission on sales.)
So check out the latest entrant to the All-American Store genre, and tell me what you think. I will add products over time, focusing on those companies whose products are not readily available from other retailers.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Today is Thanksgiving Day, and despite a hectic summer and fall, I have a lot to be thankful for. We survived a move to a smaller home, my youngest son has settled into life in a new school, our house has finally sold after months on the market. We are all healthy and our bills are paid.
It has been a busy autumn at StillMadeinUSA.com as well! Newspaper stories, including a story in the New York Times, and a guest spot on NPR’s On Point helped spread the word about StillMadeinUSA.com to new audiences. The number of visitors to the site continues to grow, and I have received hundreds of suggestions for companies or products to check out and list.
The recent toy recalls have been an alarming wake-up call for many parents, and shoppers searching for “toys made in USA” have been burning up my bandwidth! I hope the interest in American-made toys will spill over into other product categories and that shoppers will rediscover the many wonderful things that are still made in USA.
As in past years, I have posted a Virtual Holiday Catalog to get you started, but please don’t shop today! I hate the idea the Thanksgiving is just “the start of the holiday shopping season.” Enjoy the day for itself, take a deep breath, eat some turkey and stuffing, and share a glass of wine with family and friends, save room for the pumpkin pie. Be thankful for what you have, and think of a small thing that you can do to make someone else’s life happier.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
In 2005, F&P announced plans to move production of their SmartDrive washer line from Brisbane, Australia to Clyde, Ohio. The move was prompted by a desire to be close to North American markets so that freight costs are reduced and products can be delivered to customers more quickly. The new facility in Clyde, OH also makes sense because Clyde is home to a large division of Whirlpool and the two companies have had alliances in the past. F&P produces motors for Whirlpool and distributes Whirlpool products in New Zealand. In January 2007, F&P announced that its new AquaSmart clothes washer, which has energy and water saving features, will be assembled at the Clyde, OH facility.
When Fisher & Paykel was beginning its U.S. production, I was contacted by a representative of the company who was interested in official “Made in USA” labeling requirements so that the company could emphasize the fact that their products were being manufactured in the U.S. The move to the U.S. seems to be paying off; the company reports in their Annual Report for 2005-2006 that U.S. sales are now the largest source of revenue (38 percent of appliance sales), exceeding revenues from Australian or New Zealand.
If a company such as Fisher & Paykel recognizes the value of the American market, and feels that “Made in USA” is an important marketing theme, perhaps some of our own manufacturers will wake to the growing interest among U.S. shoppers to “buy American.”
Monday, April 09, 2007
Although readers of the local paper in Camillus were aware of the company’s troubles, Internet surfers looking for the company’s website (www.camillusknives.com) are greeted only with the news that the site has been closed. The last listing of the site in the web archives is May 23, 2006, just days after the company’s workers walked out on strike to protest proposed drastic decreases in wages and health benefits. Camillus workers, members of the United Steelworkers, remained on strike from May through November 2006, before finally reaching agreement with the company on a new contract. Shortly thereafter, Camillus Cutlery announced sizeable layoffs, and within a few months the company had closed.
Is there a lesson in the closing of Camillus Cutlery, and if so, what is that lesson? Is it that American-made products cannot compete on price with products made elsewhere? Can financially troubled companies talk openly and honestly with workers about needed concessions? When unions are negotiating contracts with financially troubled companies, how can they support the company without sacrificing the quality of life of their members?
According to the USW website, there had not been a strike at the facility since 1952. I do not know whether the labor-management conflicts arose from approaches or decisions taken by the new management, or whether the economic realities facing the company made new salary and benefit conditions inevitable.
In any case, I am sad at the loss of a venerable old company that made quality products, sad that the sacrifice of the striking workers seemed only to hasten the demise of their employer. There must be a better way.
[For a while, at least, read more about the history of Camillus Cutlery]
Monday, February 12, 2007
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I am happy to say I am in love. But let’s talk about cars!
After several months of driving my Pontiac G6, I thought I would post an update on her performance. She drives like a dream, and she talks to me too! She tells me when there may be ice outside, and when I need to go fill her gas tank. This latter turned out to be quite handy since, for inscrutable reasons, GM decided that “needle to the right” means the tank is EMPTY-- the opposite of other cars I have driven. So, I kept glancing at the fuel gauge and seeing the needle over to the right and thinking I had a full tank! Wrong. (Speaking of gasoline, I am getting 21.5 mpg for town driving...better than many cars on the road, but I am SURE we can do better than that!)
Now that the winter cold has arrived, I must confess that the salesman was correct! I have learned to LOVE the automatic start feature, and not just for the head-turn factor. (The kids love being able to start the car as they walk up to it, and catch looks of surprise on passers-by.) On these cold mornings, I start her up from the warmth of the house and she is warmed and ready to go when we come running out, late to school as usual!
Another nice touch in the GM Customer Service arena: A few days after I purchased the car, I sent an email to UAW Local 5960 thanking them for making a beautiful car for me. Although I did not receive a response to my email, a few weeks after my purchase I received a phone call from a woman at the Orion Assembly Plant in