Much has been written and said over the past few years about the fate of manufacturing in America. On TV’s and in newspapers across our country we see that industry in America is not what it used to be. There is truth in this sentiment. The last several years have seen many companies involved in manufacturing close their doors. Steel mills have been shuttered across the nation. Oil fields are halting production, and with them, the ‘cottage industries’ that serve them, such as machine shops, are closing too. More and more parts are being made over-seas. More and more jobs are going away. Too often our children are taught that the only ‘respectable’ education is college and the best way to earn a living is the white collar world. Fewer of our youth are attending trade school and learning the skills needed to manufacture products. Our elected leaders can merely pay lip service to the problem. Time and time again we hear promises about jobs that are as empty as the factories that have closed. There is a shortage of skilled workers in this country and each year sees less young people entering trade schools. Companies that make goods are being forced out of competition by unfair trade policies that tax American-made products while providing a virtual free ride to companies in Asia and other areas. Taking a look at the tags on products at your local Walmart will tell the tale as well as anything else. How many products can you find that proudly display, “MADE IN AMERICA”? More often than not, you will see Made in China.
I realize that I am painting a bleak picture, and honestly, this is a true assessment. In my own experience of running a small machine shop in middle-America, times are tough. I have seen many customers close their doors. Others have cut production in half. Still, one cannot sound the ‘death knell’ of American manufacturing just yet. We are, after all, the land that gave the world Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Graham Bell, and Henry Ford. We are also the nation that gave rise to Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Innovation and creation are in our blood. They are, in essence, who we are. From all over the world students come to study in our colleges. Our engineering departments and laboratories are, by far, the best in the world.
There are many obstacles to successful manufacturing in this country, but that does not mean that it is impossible. There are thousands of companies from all sectors that are following in the entrepreneurial footsteps of the great innovators from our past. It would be nice if we would hear those stories from time to time. I know that the current model for news outlets in this nation is to show the bad and stoke fear and frustration. Still, wouldn’t it be nice to hear of the companies that have made it through the muck of the start-up world and are producing innovative products?
The process of bringing a product from concept to market is at the very heart of what we do at Custom Technologies. Helping other’s build the reality of their dreams is what gets our engines revving first thing in the morning. We are proud to partner with those who have the spirit of Franklin, Bell, and Ford.
America is not in need of more ingenuity, we have it in spades. What America is in need of is help for entrepreneurs. We are in need of balanced trade policies and loosening credit for those who seek to build and make. We are in need of more talk of the benefits of earning a living in a skilled trade and less shame for those who choose not to attend college.
American Ingenuity is not in decline. It is on the rise. I can only imagine what heights it will reach.