Executive Briefings

Small U.S. Manufacturers Struggle to Bring Jobs Back Home

GAM Enterprises Inc., a manufacturer of precision mechanical components used in factory automation, began moving operations back to the U.S. from Germany three years ago to hold on to customers frustrated by long lead times and shipping delays.

Small U.S. Manufacturers Struggle to Bring Jobs Back Home

The move, or "reshoring," also helped the Mount Prospect, Ill., company woo new business in its local market. GAM doubled its workforce to 30 employees and now makes more than half its components domestically, up from 11 percent four years ago.

"We can provide a very high level of customer service that we couldn't do before," said Craig Van den Avont, GAM's president.

It wasn't easy. Bringing its manufacturing back to the U.S. cost GAM nearly $4m and required technical and financial assistance from Illinois and the U.S. Commerce Department's Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The company hired a headhunter for the first time in its 26-year history, after struggling to find a machinist who could operate new small-batch production technology. Even then, the new hire required months of on-the-job training.

Other companies may encounter similar hurdles as they weigh the pros and cons of producing their goods in the U.S. again, or in some cases for the first time, amid pressure from President Donald Trump and the potential for a border-adjusted tax that would penalize importers. For smaller firms, a "Made in the U.S.A." label can add marketing cachet and strengthen ties to suppliers and customers as demands for quick delivery escalate.

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The move, or "reshoring," also helped the Mount Prospect, Ill., company woo new business in its local market. GAM doubled its workforce to 30 employees and now makes more than half its components domestically, up from 11 percent four years ago.

"We can provide a very high level of customer service that we couldn't do before," said Craig Van den Avont, GAM's president.

It wasn't easy. Bringing its manufacturing back to the U.S. cost GAM nearly $4m and required technical and financial assistance from Illinois and the U.S. Commerce Department's Manufacturing Extension Partnership. The company hired a headhunter for the first time in its 26-year history, after struggling to find a machinist who could operate new small-batch production technology. Even then, the new hire required months of on-the-job training.

Other companies may encounter similar hurdles as they weigh the pros and cons of producing their goods in the U.S. again, or in some cases for the first time, amid pressure from President Donald Trump and the potential for a border-adjusted tax that would penalize importers. For smaller firms, a "Made in the U.S.A." label can add marketing cachet and strengthen ties to suppliers and customers as demands for quick delivery escalate.

Read Full Article

Small U.S. Manufacturers Struggle to Bring Jobs Back Home