Some sectors of the economy are down, no doubt about it, but don’t make the mistake of watching the news and believing everyone’s down, some companies are humming along quite nicely and some highly skilled folks looking for work are being snapped right up, by American manufacturing companies, no less! Judging from the comments on an earlier post about an article by Erik Buell, you would think American manufacturing was dead and gone, but those commenters take specific examples and make broad generalizations, an easy and common mistake to make, they see what they want to see or expect to see.
An article in the Wall Street Journal shows numerous American manufacturers now staffing some hard to fill slots with highly skilled talent, experienced specialized welders, mechanics, electricians and the like, as a result of the huge slowdown among auto manufacturers and their associated suppliers, and, as a result, they’re doing even better. The dislocation in the auto sector frees up talent badly needed by other manufacturing companies who find it hard to compete with the auto giants when they’re running at full tilt. This is the natural restructuring that takes place when big companies fail, the resources get redeployed, no bailouts or bureaucratic intervention needed.
Redeploying this talent makes it possible to start or expand smaller manufacturing companies (like motorcycle manufacturers, maybe?) right here in the US, creating real hands on work for people who enjoy what they do and take pride in doing it well. Critics who try to turn this into some kind of anti trade slam at other countries REALLY miss the point, some of us are simply unwilling to concede every manufacturing job to someplace far away. High skill takes a long time to acquire and there’s far more to manufacturing than cheap labor, unless you’re making junk.
If a company, seeing a competitor dropping prices by using cheap labor, responds by throwing in the towel and giving up, maybe they deserve to go out of business, maybe they shouldn’t have been in business in the first place, if they can be beat with cheap, who needs them? It’s when a company says we can do it better, we can turn it around, we can compete with anyone, that’s when the fun starts.
If the “we can do it better” thinking takes hold in countries all over the world, every country can do their best to build their best, whether that is Germans building excellent German products, or Italians or Japanese, or Chinese or Americans or anyone else that wants to, there can be a manufacturing base in each country. Let’s compete head to head for the best combination of quality and price. There’s nothing wrong with rooting for the home team, either, in any country. Let’s see a few companies here in the US get a little backbone and say, we can’t be beat with cheap unless you want junk, and we don’t sell junk. I wonder what would happen. I’d like to know and I bet a few of you would like to know, too.
When I see Erik Buell betting on American manufacturing, he’s thinking “we can do it better.” OK, let’s see what Buell can do. Let’s see what everyone can do. Everyone can stop wringing their hands now and just get to work. Whether you’re here in the US or in any other country, stand up, roll up your sleeves and get to work. No bailouts needed, no bumbling bureaucratic task force, just plain old fashioned hard work. Just do it!