Buying American vs. Importing

Buying American vs. Importing

Did you know that manufacturing plays a vital role in the U.S. economy? According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), “manufacturers contributed $2.35 trillion to the U.S. economy in the fourth quarter” of 2020. In fact, when it comes to the U.S.’ GDP (gross domestic product), manufacturing makes up nearly 11%. NAM also states that “for every $1.00 spent in manufacturing, another $2.79 is added to the economy.” So what does this say about the industry? It pays to buy American. Not convinced? Here’s why you should focus on investing in American-made products and components over imported ones.

U.S. Export Statistics for Manufacturing

First off, we’re not the only ones buying American. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reported that “U.S. exports of manufactured goods reached nearly $1.4 trillion in 2019, accounting for more than 82% of all U.S. merchandise exports.” That dollar amount alone supported 6 million+ manufacturing jobs.

Over 12 Million Hard-Working Americans

Speaking of jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more than 12 million manufacturing jobs as of April 2021. This proves that remaining “in-house” for your manufacturing needs also supports many hard-working Americans.

Consider the Total Cost of Importing

While there are benefits to importing products such as lower prices, there’s also the total cost to consider. Longer lead times from overseas manufacturers means that you must not only buy more, but also stock more. That takes working capital, costing real dollars. Don’t forget about the tariff and shipping costs either, which will skyrocket if you don’t buy in volume. If you need to get your hands on something quick, just wait and see how pricy the entire process becomes.

Remain Agile

Remember all that inventory you had to buy? What happens if you want to make a change due to the needs of your customers? This is what we in manufacturing call agility, or being able to make adjustments quickly. When you work with manufacturers outside of the U.S., this capability becomes significantly reduced. A flight from Florida to California takes around 5 hours nonstop so the turnaround time from a manufacturer located in the middle, like St. Louis, would be more than acceptable. Countries in Asia, South America, Europe, and others, on the other hand, would take much longer to ship new products/components – and that’s not accounting for the potential mistakes made from any language barriers you’ll need to overcome. All mistakes cost you time and money.

Avoid Low-Quality Materials

Let’s take another look at why some imported goods can be cheaper. Oftentimes, they are made with materials (metal in particular) that do not adhere to U.S. material specifications. What happens, according to Investopedia, is that “components and products that are easy to mass-produce are often outsourced to developing nations where labor is cheaper.” Since there’s a lot of competition out there, some nations aren’t afraid to cut corners when it comes to the quality of their materials.

Buy American with Custom Technologies

Centrally located in the U.S. heartland, Custom Technologies is a full-spectrum product engineering and manufacturing firm that can source cost-competitive, American-made products and components. All of our manufacturing takes place in St. Louis, Missouri at our over 9,000-square-foot facility. Want to see it for yourself sometime? You can! That’s just another benefit of buying American. Contact us today or visit