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Machine Shop Tips Made in North America?

When was the last time you saw a “Made in Canada” (or USA) on anything? Our company decided to have hats made so we came up with a brilliant idea. Why don’t we have them designed and manufactured in Canada since we are, after all, Canadian. We found ourselves a very nice gentleman to design the hats, who also happened to be the son of one of the employees at Modern. We worked very hard to have the hats just right…Modern did not want just any old hat.

We went through all the details with great debate. When we were satisfied that the hats were just right, we reached out to the local manufacturers to have them made.

What came next was a shock.

We could not find a local manufacturer to make our hat. They all wanted to send the hat overseas to be manufactured. They were very sympathetic and understood our vision, but they weren’t in a position to manufacture them locally. We came up with an idea to widen our search from BC to all of Canada.

Once again, our requests fell on sympathetic ears; they could only make them overseas. We were even prepared to pay more for the Canadian made hat, but it wasn’t the cost, it was the lack of facilities to make them. We were very frustrated so once again decided to widen our search, this time to all of North America and found a manufacturer in California. Thank goodness our great neighbours to the south hadn’t exported all their manufacturing overseas. We can now say that our hats are made in North America.

More and more we see industries moving their production overseas. Is it because it’s cheaper? Is it because there’s a lack of qualified manufacturers here that can make the product? I think it’s a little of both. The drive to maximize profits by minimizing costs is alive and well. However, the cost of manufacturing seems to only be measured in how cheap the labor is in overseas countries. North America thinks this is the only truth. We don’t see that we can be competitive even though our labor costs are higher.

These hat companies are exporting their manufacturing because their labor costs are higher than the labor overseas.

If you think about it this is very frustrating, because it means we are exporting those jobs. How many other industries has this happened to? Why do businesses find it easier to export the jobs and not fight back?

I think there are many businesses facing these questions. Costs are higher here in North America and we seem to be conditioned to think that we cannot be competitive, or we do not want to take the risk of making an investment. It is not fun when you take a risk and fail which is understandable since the consequences of failure can be quite harsh. Although, I have seen many great people who have gone against the export of jobs and have become globally competitive. They did this through hard work and constant perseverance to make it happen. They could easily find a reason to quit but I think in many cases it’s a matter of pride and vision that keeps them going. I salute the hat manufacturer in California who allowed us to invest in North American made hats.