Executive Briefings

The Stuff Still Made in the USA

Entire industries, from textiles to toys, have become almost extinct in the U.S. as manufacturers moved abroad in search of lower costs or got swept away by a wave of imports.

The Stuff Still Made in the USA

Some products aren't Made in America at all anymore. Others still are - but by just a handful of small businesses, or maybe only one. They're mostly surviving by the skin of their teeth in a world where shoppers care more about price than country of origin. Their stories show the challenge of producing at home - as President Donald Trump is pushing for - and also that it's not impossible.

Dubuque Clamp Works

Dubuque, Iowa, had a thriving industrial economy until the 1980s. Now, not so much. Keith Clark is still there, making woodworking clamps, as he’s done for four decades.

The company he co-owns with his wife, Edna, has annual sales of $500,000, with customers from Germany to South Korea. Clark, 72, turns away new orders, partly because so much of the supply chain he relies on has moved abroad. Rivets and springs can take weeks to arrive. He often ends up making his own parts.

“That’s the reason it’s going to be hard for manufacturing to come back,” Clark says. “You need all these sundry businesses to be here.”

So Dubuque Clamp stays small by design, employing three people plus part-timers. It does some custom molding, but 90 percent of its output is specialized clamps for holding wood in place. They’re manufactured on about 50 dedicated machines and used to make everything from cabinets to countertops and guitars.

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Some products aren't Made in America at all anymore. Others still are - but by just a handful of small businesses, or maybe only one. They're mostly surviving by the skin of their teeth in a world where shoppers care more about price than country of origin. Their stories show the challenge of producing at home - as President Donald Trump is pushing for - and also that it's not impossible.

Dubuque Clamp Works

Dubuque, Iowa, had a thriving industrial economy until the 1980s. Now, not so much. Keith Clark is still there, making woodworking clamps, as he’s done for four decades.

The company he co-owns with his wife, Edna, has annual sales of $500,000, with customers from Germany to South Korea. Clark, 72, turns away new orders, partly because so much of the supply chain he relies on has moved abroad. Rivets and springs can take weeks to arrive. He often ends up making his own parts.

“That’s the reason it’s going to be hard for manufacturing to come back,” Clark says. “You need all these sundry businesses to be here.”

So Dubuque Clamp stays small by design, employing three people plus part-timers. It does some custom molding, but 90 percent of its output is specialized clamps for holding wood in place. They’re manufactured on about 50 dedicated machines and used to make everything from cabinets to countertops and guitars.

Read Full Article

The Stuff Still Made in the USA