05
Feb
16

The Lifetime Wool Coat. by Crafted Wool Co. — Kickstarter

www.kickstarter.com/projects/954278272/the-lifetime-wool-coat

Kickstarter – The Lifetime Wool Coat

There is a great new Kickstarter (a crowd-funding) project. The project is from a company called The Crafted Wool Company. They would like to make scarfs and coats made of wool. The premium wool will be from the United States, and manufactured and assembled in Los Angeles. The wool garments remind me of Pendleton when they used to make all their garments here – but at about half the price. This is a special introductory offer, the coats will be $99 and the scarfs $29. And, in an homage to the quality garments of yesteryear, they come with a lifetime guarantee. To pledge – click the Kickstarter link at the top to get to the site.

About this project

The Crafted story began several months ago after shopping for a quality, domestic made wool coat. Well, we were shocked to see brand name wool plaid garments selling for up to several hundred dollars. Not only that, these premium coats were often still made overseas with less than premium materials.

Inspired by those old wool plaid hunter coats of early 20th century (many of which are still being worn today after decades of use), we set out to build the The Lifetime Wool Coat with lifelong durability and true sustainability in mind. Not only did we accomplish this, we also ended up creating what we feel is the World’s Best Wool Coat, capable of 4 season multipurpose use and true year round comfort.

Inspired by old-school American build quality, but caught in a world of fast-fashion and disposable clothes, Crafted Wool Co. set out to build The Lifetime Wool Coat coat to be used and loved for many years to come out of proven materials. Three stunning colors to choose from with a fitted modern cut. Launching exclusively on Kickstarter.

When it came time to source the fabric, we decided to go for the timeless Checkered Plaid American made wool blend, with three awesome color choices that will forever be in style. Checkered Plaid is one of the most beloved patterns in clothing history. Whether you’re a Rockstar, Lumberjack, or Technology CEO, you can appreciate the timeless design and awesome color schemes. Plaid feels as comfortable in an LA fashion show as it does in the rugged mountains. The fabric is rugged on the outside, with a cozy light fleece on the inside, thanks to a small amount of nylon woven directly into the wool. This blend also helps the coat to maintain its shape over time and increases its durability. We’ve done away with any synthetic liners to “plump” up the coat to make it appear thicker, like many manufacturers do. The 18 oz wool blend is already the perfect thickness to keep you comfortable.

It all starts with the premium durable materials and a rugged build philosophy:

1) 18 oz USA Made Premium 85% Wool Blend 

2) Leather and Tent Grade Polyester Threading 

3) Double Row Stitching In High Stress Areas

4) Tagua Nut / Vegetable Ivory Buttons (read below) 

5) 100% Cotton Collar Liner

Then finally, each shirt is carefully inspected and Individually Serial Numbered.

We tested several buttons for our shirts, and the ones we finally picked out are very special. Our buttons are made from Vegetable Ivory. Vegetable Ivory is a superior, premium natural material that is sustainably collected from the Tagua Palm in Central America. Each palm produces several pounds of Tagua nuts annually, from which countless buttons can be made. They are hard, very hard. In fact they score a 3 on the mineral scale, meaning they are harder than traditional copper buttons, as well as select other metals. Each Crafted Coat has 16 of these amazing buttons.

So why are they called Vegetable Ivory? When the Tagua Nuts are processed, they can produce beautiful, textured decorative pieces that resemble Elephant Ivory so closely, they were given that name. Its a phenomenal material that we can’t wait to help promote, and we feel will it has the potential to directly help reduce the poaching of these majestic animals.

Although we were inspired by the classic early 20th century wool coats in terms of build quality, the sizing was designed by us to be purely modern. We wanted to go for a fitted look. Think of it somewhere between a long sleeve dress shirt and an outdoor jacket. Our criteria was to look great with just an undershirt on, or layered over a sweatshirt or long sleeved shirt. We had several individuals, both male and female of varying heights wear them and honestly they looked great regardless of the size. If you want a fitted look, we suggest using the size guide below. If you want a looser, more traditional baggy fit, we suggest sizing up one.

Wool is one of the most resilient materials available and also one of most historically significant, with many archaeologically discovered garments dating back to antiquity. In fact, the oldest preserved wool top is 1,700 years old. Humans have relied on and have been perfecting wool for clothing since nearly the beginning of recorded time.

Wool is an incredible, sophisticated fiber which has been loved by humans for centuries. These above properties are even more important today in a world full of waste and environmental strain. One of the features we love about our coats is their ability to be worn for extended periods of time without washing. The individual wool fiber has a natural, antimicrobial coating which provides odor protection and eliminates the need for constant washing. We recommend a wash every six months. This makes these coats perfect for travel and backpacking trips!

These particular coats were inspired by the wool hunting jackets first introduced in the 1800’s and made popular again throughout the 1940’s and 1950’s. A true testament to wool, there are still 60+ year wool plaid jackets still in use and being worn today. Crafted Wool Co. has even further ruggedized and then modernized a classic with an emphasis on sustainability, while keeping that endearing style alive.

We have awesome scarves too! They are made from the same iconic material as our coats and look awesome when mixing and matching colors. They are a generous 10” x 55 1/2” and can be worn in various styles, with a soft fleece finish on one side and the durable finish on the other. We are giving out 300 of these free to our early bird backers. They will retail for $29.

Crafted Wool’s mission statement is to is to promote sustainability through high quality wool clothing. We use domestic manufacturing in Los Angeles and are using USA made wool. Our natural buttons are made in Central America, and our thread is top quality. Our raw materials are…very expensive! We could probably price these coats at twice or three times what we’re selling them for, and if all we cared about was profits, we would do just that. High quality, name-brand wool shirts / coats can easily get into the hundreds of dollars. However, one of our main goals is to keep our products as affordable as possible and keep them that way! At only $99.00 on Kickstarter it really is blowout promotional pricing, we hope you guys feel you’re getting your moneys worth.

We are setting out to become the premier wool brand by offering phenomenal quality at ridiculously cheap prices. We feel our business model is sustainable for achieving this. Although we’re a startup, we will stand by even our earliest products. Your Lifetime Wool Coat will be covered under warranty from normal wear and tear for as long as we’re in business. We’d love to work with you make any repair work necessary to keep your Lifetime Coat around for as long as possible. Even if we have to close our doors earlier than expected, we’re committed to offering a grace period for customers to get their coats repaired. Its the absolute best and realistic warranty any clothing startup can give!

https://twitter.com/Crafted_Wool_Co

Please share our Twitter page! We are using our Twitter as our official page as our professional website is being built. There, you’ll find all sorts of updates, contact information and additional news exclusive to Twitter!

Don’t forget to copy and paste the Kickstarter link when sharing!

Risks and challenges

These coats are ready for manufacturing. As evident in the campaign, samples have already been made. All the materials, labels and hang tags have also been sampled and are ready for mass production. Our goal is to get the jackets to our backers on-time for the estimated delivery. Being a startup committed to growing into a true brand, we cannot accept returns. We are however, offering a great warranty.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn’t help, you can ask the project creator directly.

Ask a question

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more

    An Enormous Thank You for supporting our Journey!

 

  • Pledge $24 or more

    Scarf
    (Your Choice of 3 Colors)

    Retail: $29

  • Pledge $89 or more

    24 backers Limited (126 left of 150)

    Early Bird 1:

    Lifetime Wool Coat + Scarf
    (Your Choice of 3 Colors)

    Retail: $178

  • Pledge $99 or more

    1 backer Limited (149 left of 150)

    Early Bird 2:

    Lifetime Wool Coat + Scarf
    (Your Choice of 3 Colors)

    Retail: $178

  • Pledge $99 or more

    0 backers

    Lifetime Wool Coat
    (Your Choice of 3 Colors)

    Retail: $149

    Estimated delivery: Mar 2016
    Ships to: Anywhere in the world
  • Pledge $109 or more

    0 backers Limited (500 left of 500)

    Lifetime Wool Coat + Scarf
    (Your Choice of 3 Colors)

    Retail: $178

    Estimated delivery: Mar 2016
03
Feb
16

American Made Supply Co. – Apparel Made in the USA

American Made Supply Co.

American Made Supply Co. (AMSCO) is a relatively new company coming together in 2013, with a message of making clothing “Made in USA.” AMSCO actually has a long history of manufacturing. The parent company of AMSCO has been in the apparel business for more than 30 years (mainly in the manufacturing sector). AMSCO is based in Southern California where the apparel is milled, sewn and assembled.

AMSCO makes apparel for both men and women. They sell: T-shirts, long sleeve shirts, tops, pullovers and shorts. The price of their garments are one the most affordable to be found “Made in the USA”. AMSCO, also, has a great marketing department which has been very beneficial for many American Internet-only companies like American Giant.

Below is from the American Made Supply Co. website: Our Story

American Made Supply Co.

American Made Supply Co.

American Made Supply Co. is a company built by dreamers, inventors, artists, builders and pro-active doers. We believe in creating classically timeless pieces that are both long lasting and affordable for everyone.

To us, every style offered is more than a simple garment, but a way of life. By wearing American Made Supply Co. you’re making a confident and conscious statement about who you are and how you want the world to see you.

AMSCO 1

We believe in keeping our business in-house and locally sourced, giving us the ability to keep our overhead lower than most retailers, and allowing us to pass through a savings with great prices to our customers. All products offered by American Made Supply Co. has been milled, cut, sewn, and laundered locally in Los Angeles, Ca. Each style is individually inspected during the quality control process. This occurs at the beginning, middle and ending stages of production. Every garment we make has been hand-pressed and outfitted with an American Flag sewn into the exterior side seam of each piece.

am made supply

Emitting a prominent sense of pride and patriotic unity, the American Flag is a subtle reminder to everyone to always emit strength, pride, resilience. Mimicking its carefully crafted nature and strategic garment location, the American Flag brings together a shared bond, a common interest, and a sense of loyalty to one another. The culmination of these ideals have come together to form American Made Supply Co.

AMSCO2

Don’t forget to check out their Facebook page.

02
Feb
16

Chinese-Made Cars Arrive in U.S. Showrooms – The New York Times

Chinese-Made Cars Arrive in U.S. Showrooms

Remember the year, 2016. As if it weren’t bad enough that tens of millions of jobs had been offshored to China since 2001 (Thanks to the World Trade organization -the biggest Free Trade treaty ever), to add insult to injury, China is bringing their Chinese cars with the help of traitorous car manufacturers Buick, Cadillac and Volvo, to close down even more American manufacturing plants. “Made in China” cars are here!! The models to boycott and protest are: the Volvo S60L Inscription, the Buick Envision, and the Cadillac CT6 hybrid model.

It was one thing that Buick and Cadillac was making automobiles in China for the Chinese population. It is another thing to bring these slave-labor cars and dumping (overproducing and undercutting prices with the help of Chinese government subsidies and repeal of import taxes) them on the United States, endangering American manufacturing jobs. Where is the outrage?  Where the f*** is the damn media? In the 1980’s, this would have been the number one news story on the TV news and newspapers (no coverage – maybe it is because they are all owned by giant corporations, I mean do you ever hear them talk about the Trans-Pacific Partnership – of course you don’t. Even the so-called iconoclastic Donald Trump has said nothing about this). Don’t allow Chinese automobile imports to spread like another cancer. It would be better if Buick were a Chinese company and hired US autoworkers to make their cars. This is the ultimate terrible choice. Back in the days before the Unions were cut down by the Free Trade Treaties – these cars would never make it out of the car lots.

Shouldn’t these cars have to say they are “Made in China”?

Chinese-Made Cars Arrive in U.S. Showrooms

by Lawrence Ullrich

Source: Chinese-Made Cars Arrive in U.S. Showrooms – The New York Times

The assembly line for the Volvo S60L sedan at the company’s plant in Chengdu, China. Credit ChinaFotoPress, via Getty Images

The assembly line for the Volvo S60L sedan at the company’s plant in Chengdu, China. Credit ChinaFotoPress, via Getty Images

A PEEK under the hood of three new cars from Volvo, Buick and Cadillac will not reveal a Made in China label. But those cars are breaking new ground in the auto industry, becoming the first to be manufactured in the People’s Republic and exported to the United States.

Sweden’s Volvo, now owned by Geely Auto of China, has shipped more than 1,000 copies of its S60 Inscription.

Buick, desperate to fill the most glaring hole in its lineup, the compact crossover, will import the Envision.

And this month, Cadillac announced that it would export a plug-in hybrid version of its new CT6 flagship sedan from China, supplementing production of the standard version from its Detroit-Hamtramck plant.

The arrival of Chinese-made cars has surprised some people in the United States, particularly United Auto Workers leaders who objected to General Motors’ decision to begin selling the Buick Envision starting this July.

But it is the culmination of a long-promised, never-fulfilled vision, and their introduction stands in stark contrast to 2007, when Chinese automakers stormed auto shows in America, making bold promises that they would soon open showrooms here.

But the mainly low-budget cars appeared dowdy, primitive, even potentially unsafe. Not one Chinese-branded car cracked the American market, though companies like Guangzhou Automobile continue to float the idea.

Since that time, much has changed. Global and Chinese automakers have teamed up to produce more sophisticated models, including Buicks and BMWs, that are familiar faces around the world. Geely’s trophy purchase of Volvo has given it a trusted name that is synonymous with safety.

Chinese cars do remain an unknown quantity to consumers, who were also once leery of the first cars imported from Japan — and later, from Mexico and South Korea.

Michael Harley, editor in chief of AutoWeb, said that top automakers had solved those puzzles of global manufacturing, and they understood the stakes in American showrooms.

“When Hyundai first brought Korean cars here, they didn’t realize the scrutiny Americans would put on them, and the poor quality almost destroyed the Hyundai brand,” Mr. Harley said. “Today, companies like Volvo and G.M. know they have to build a world-class product to present to American consumers, and there’s no getting around it.”

In November, Aaron Ezrilov became one of the first Americans to drive a Chinese-built car, though he didn’t realize it until a salesman told him while signing the Volvo S60 Inscription lease. Mr. Ezrilov, a longtime Volvo loyalist and a federal solutions director for Resolute Partners, felt the briefest flash of anxiety. But he has been closely going over the car ever since and fell in love on a fast canyon run to San Juan Capistrano from his home in Canyon Lake, Calif.

“The doors ‘thud’ when you close them, and I’m not finding any corners cut or cosmetic flaws at all,” Mr. Ezrilov said, adding that he was impressed enough to pick up a second Inscription for his mother.

Katarina Fjording, Volvo’s vice president for purchasing and manufacturing in the Americas, helped create Volvo’s Chinese factory in Chengdu.

“When I went to China, I had doubts about what it would be like, especially in a remote area,” she said. “But I’ve been proven wrong many times.”

The biggest cultural challenge, Ms. Fjording said, was to encourage Chinese workers to suggest improvements without fear of repercussions.

“It’s not natural to speak up like that, but now they’re very good at it. You see the joy, how they appreciate that you listen.”

Some Chengdu workers had automotive factory experience and were willing to move thousands of miles for a better job and life.

“It takes a long time to build a good reputation, and only a day to ruin it, so it wouldn’t make any sense for us to produce something that’s not good,” Ms. Fjording said.

For General Motors’ Buick brand, China is driving the best sales in its 112-year history, with America the outlier: Buick built and sold more than one million cars in China last year, compared with 223,000 here. So exporting the Envision, a Chinese award-winning sport utility vehicle, is a natural, considering America’s growing appetite for small crossovers, said Duncan Aldred, Buick’s vice president for sales.

“It’s the biggest sales segment, and we need to be in there,” he said.

Mr. Aldred said that, ultimately, American consumers were more interested in a product’s design and performance than where it’s assembled.

“It’s the same model used by iPhone,” Mr. Aldred said of the Chinese-built product. “Most people have one in their pocket and pay a premium for that device.”

Mr. Harley said that American consumers were buying a brand, not a country of manufacture. [Editor’s rebuttal: “Wrong!”]

“Germans are building cars in South Carolina, but no one says you’re driving a South Carolina BMW,” Mr. Harley said. “It’s still a German car, and as long as quality is equal or better, consumers aren’t going to care.”[Wrong again! – Ed.]

Mr. Ezrilov agreed, saying that he wasn’t concerned about the Volvo’s provenance but about its performance and a back seat that could fit his six-foot-plus teenage son. “I believe in fair trade,” Mr. Ezrilov said. [Fair Trade?!!! -Ed.]

Such globalization arguments haven’t swayed Cindy Estrada, vice president of the United Auto Workers. She said G.M. was welcome to build cars in China to serve the world’s largest car market. But Ms. Estrada, who led negotiations that resulted in a four-year G.M. labor deal last fall, minutes before a strike deadline, said the company was breaking its oft-stated pledge to “build where you sell.”

“If you’re looking to rebuild the company and invest in workers, you don’t go and bring in something from China,” Ms. Estrada said. “We have to hold them accountable to build vehicles here.”[They should be striking with lots of media Coverage. -Ed.]

Mr. Aldred replied that Buick continued to invest in American manufacturing, including an all-new LaCrosse sedan at Buick’s Detroit-Hamtramck plant. Buick headquarters, including its global design and engineering, will always remain in suburban Detroit, he said.

We’re a proudly American brand, the oldest in the U.S. industry, and also a great international success story,” he said.{So what if we don’t make anything in America anymore, we are still an American company, right? -Ed]

As for Volvo, the next challenge for the globe-hopping Ms. Fjording takes her to South Carolina. She is coaxing Volvo’s first American factory into existence, scheduled to build a next-generation S60 by 2018.

One target is already affirmed: If the South Carolina plant can match the quality of its Chinese models, she said, the company would “absolutely” be satisfied. [Oh, come on now!! -Ed]

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Regarding the New York Times Article written by Mr. Ullrich., what are you, a Free Trade shill? Maybe you could have mentioned a story that is very relevant that is currently in the news. That story would be of Flint, MI, formerly one of the biggest GM auto plant cities, the same city whose water has recently was poisoned, the city that was decimated when GM left, which was a direct result of offshoring. How many more new Flint stories do we need to see across the US?  Stop promoting offshoring of US jobs and Boycott Chinese made cars.

30
Jan
16

What’s Our Duty to the People Globalization Leaves Behind?

What’s Our Duty to the People Globalization Leaves Behind?

by Steven Rattner on January 26, 2016 in The New York Times

The title is interesting, isn’t it? When you mention the word “globalization”, your mind immediately says, “Oh, Oh, this is about economics, this must be a story written by an economist.” But then the title talks of a duty to people who have been left behind. This is never, ever, a subject of modern day economics. Economists think only about money, not about the “true costs.”

This story is about a writer who goes and visits a Free Trade Think Tank (yes they do exist). Click the link below to see the whole article and a couple of the graphs that I could not reproduce.

Thanks to The Alliance of American manufacturing for pointing out this article. For the bullet points see the end of the article.

Source: What’s Our Duty to the People Globalization Leaves Behind? – The New York Times

 Workers at a Kia factory in Pesqueria, Mexico. Credit Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

Workers at a Kia factory in Pesqueria, Mexico. Credit Susana Gonzalez/Bloomberg

A FEW days ago, I visited the shiny headquarters of the Peterson Institute for International Economics on “think tank row” in Washington — basically, the locker room of the Team Globalization and Free Trade cheering squad.

I was there to take part in a discussion of an old friend’s outstanding book on the subject, Steven R. Weisman’s “The Great Tradeoff: Confronting Moral Conflicts in the Era of Globalization.”

After praising Steve’s book, I emphasized that I had paid attention in economics class and understood that globalization incontrovertibly has benefited not only the world but also the United States. That’s in part because trade permits Americans to buy goods at lower prices; the added purchasing power helps our economy expand faster.

But I soon pivoted to my experience working in the Obama administration on the auto rescue, an experience that had seared into me the sense that intermingled among the many winners from globalization were a substantial number of losers.

So far, so good. Then I went rogue and uttered two blasphemous words: “Ross Perot.” He had a point, I said heretically, when he campaigned in 1992 against the landmark North American Free Trade Agreement, saying that it would result in a “giant sucking sound” of jobs headed south to Mexico.

A cool breeze drifted toward me.

As I looked out at my audience, I realized that the room was filled with winners — folks who, from all appearances, earned their livings from intellectual labor. Neither their jobs nor their wages were in jeopardy as countries ranging from Vietnam to Colombia became more competitive with us.

I pressed on.

Last year, according to the recent figures, our nation added 2.65 million new jobs. Just 30,000 of them were in manufacturing. So much for the widely trumpeted renaissance of Made in America.

At first glance, the automobile industry looks to be in better shape. From the depths of the crisis in 2009 through 2013, employment in the auto manufacturing sector in the United States rose by 23 percent, to 690,000 from 560,000.

That sounds pretty good, I said, except that employment in the Mexican auto sector rose to 589,000 from 368,000 during the same period, an increase of 60 percent. I’m happy that 221,000 more Mexicans got jobs, but let’s be honest: Absent open borders, many of those jobs would have been in America.

The wage picture looks even worse. Since January 2009, inflation-adjusted private sector wages across the economy have risen by 2.5 percent. In the fields of education, health and information, they are up by more than 3 percent. Meanwhile, in manufacturing, pay has fallen by 0.8 percent, and in the auto sector, by 12.7 percent.

“Last point,” I said to the 100 or so guests: Average manufacturing compensation costs (includes wages and benefits) in the United States in 2012 were $35.67 per hour; in Mexico, they were $6.36 per hour. “And American auto executives will tell you that the productivity they get in Mexico is at least as good as what they get in the United States.”

My central argument was not that we should close our borders or retreat from the world; it was that we need to be sensitive to the losers and try to help. The point — well illustrated in Steve’s book — is that globalization is not only an economic matter but also a moral one.

Presently, the institute’s blunt director, Adam Posen, used his final moments to shut me down, declaring that the “fetishization” of any industry was “immoral.” The problem of manufacturing is technology, he declared flatly.

Blaming technology is a common refrain from economists who hate the thought that globalization is not the world’s unambiguous salvation.

Sorry, Adam, I thought silently, having been afforded no time to respond. If technology were the source of manufacturing workers’ woes, productivity would be rising sharply, which it surely isn’t (notwithstanding claims by some economists that official statistics have been understating efficiency gains).

“Don’t blame the robots for lost manufacturing jobs,” read the headline in a blog post last spring by two scholars at the venerable Brookings Institution.

I have never forgotten a powerful article I read in Foreign Affairs in 2007 that called for huge tax redistribution, both as a moral matter and as a mechanism for ensuring political support for free trade. (The authors were hardly left-wing shills — one had served in the administration of President George W. Bush.)

That still sounds like the right idea to me.

It’s not only morally wrong to fail to help those on the losing end of globalization, but it will also end badly politically, as the ascendant candidacy of Donald J. Trump illustrates.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

Editor’s Comments

There are many economists who still believe that Globalization, Free Trade, minimal government intervention, and Trickledown economics-  the cornerstones of “Extreme Capitalism” – is still good for the USA. However more and more economists are abandoning this 40 year old economic theory after many years actual implementation, they have seen the error in their ways. Hallelujah!

  • Comparison of auto manufacturing jobs

USA  2009          2013                    % increase

560,000              630,000                23%

Mexico 2009     2013

368,000             589,000                60%

  • Number of new American manufacturing jobs for 2015 – 30,000 jobs (out of a total of 2.65 million new jobs in USA for 2015)
  • % decrease in pay – 0.8% in American manufacturing
  • % decrease in pay – 12.7% in American auto manufacturing

 

  • Economists never pay attention to the human costs of globalization.
  • Economists would like to blame technology instead of offshoring for the loss of American jobs.

 

Extreme Capitalism economists always downplay the impact of American job loss on American citizens – of course, they are economists – people are just numbers to them. However, these economists do not want to appear like they are callus and uncaring, that is why they hypocritically say that the loss of  American jobs is due to technology. Wrong! Those new 223,000 automobile manufacturing jobs in Mexico used to be American jobs, they were not lost to technology. All those millions of new jobs in  China, they were lost American jobs. Why do you think we have stubbornly low economic growth here in the USA?  Because we offshore millions of jobs each year more than we create. Think of the economy as a bucket – the fuller it gets – the better the pay of workers and more money going into the US economy, but since the Extreme Capitalism policies of the 1980s, we have a sieve instead of a bucket. There is finite number of jobs that can be created each year and if you distribute them all over the universe there is much less available for the USA.

We need to stop offshoring, we need to stop Free Market Treaties which eliminate import taxes and allows dumping of foreign products onto our shores putting US businesses at a disadvantage and putting many of them out of business. Buy American.

29
Jan
16

Ethan Allen expands U.S. furniture manufacturing | Woodworking Network

Ethan Allen Interiors Inc. has expanded its upholstery production in Maiden, North Carolina, with the conversion of a 173,000-square-foot former distribution facility located on its manufacturing campus to an upholstery plant. The residential furniture giant said the new plant will support the existing two upholstery facilities and also house a new R&D facility.

Source: Ethan Allen expands U.S. furniture manufacturing | Woodworking Network

“We are pleased to continue the development of our North American manufacturing by establishing our third upholstery plant in Maiden, N.C., which we believe gives us a long-term competitive advantage that will allow us to advance our objectives of maintaining short order processing times and improving capacity to ship custom items more quickly,” said Farooq Kathwari, Ethan Allen chairman and CEO.

In the past few years, Ethan Allen also invested $5 million in technology and other improvements at the other two Maiden upholstery plants, which total 600,000 square feet.

A manufacturer of residential furniture and casegoods, Ethan Allen (NYSE: ETH) owns and operates nine production facilities including six manufacturing plants and one sawmill in the United States plus one plant each in Mexico and Honduras. According to the company, approximately 70 percent of its products are made in its North American plants. Ethan Allen also services the retail home furnishings market through ethanallen.com and a network of approximately 300 Design Centers in the United States and abroad. The company posted net sales in 2015 of $754.6 million.

24
Jan
16

Why Chinese Factories Fare Poorly in the U.S. – The New Yorker

The following article is from The New Yorker. The article is about the increase of Chinese owned factories in the United States and some of the problems that these factories are having. Chinese factories are used to having huge worker turnover with lot of workers ready to replace the old ones, poor pay, and passive workers who are used to being bullied  – this approach has not gone well with American workers. I recommend reading the whole article, but if you just want my bullet points, scroll down to the bottom. Thanks to the Alliance of American Manufacturing for pointing out this article.

Source: Why Chinese Factories Fare Poorly in the U.S. – The New Yorker

written by Jeffrey Rothfeder

Why Chinese Factories Fare Poorly in The U.S.

Rothfeder-Why-Chinese-Factories-Fare-Poorly-in-US-690x465-1452639389

In September, on an abandoned forty-acre Westinghouse factory site in Springfield, Massachusetts, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (C.R.R.C.) broke ground on a sixty-million-dollar plant to assemble subway cars for Boston’s Orange and Red lines. Although commentary on the Chinese-American trade relationship is often colored by suspicion and xenophobia, virtually no one in Massachusetts publicly opposed the arrival of C.R.R.C., a state-owned enterprise controlled by Beijing.

After all, Springfield is not a position to be picky about its economic partners. Once a dominant manufacturing city—the assembly line and the concept of interchangeable parts were invented there, in munitions factories that were centers of global innovation for much of the nineteenth century—Springfield has been spiralling downward for decades. Currently, unemployment there stands just above the national level, but the city depends on state government and municipal services, not the private sector, for much of its cash flow and jobs. In just the past five years, even as U.S. industrial employment has surged some 7.5 per cent, representing nearly a million new jobs, about two thousand additional manufacturing positions have disappeared from Springfield.

Curiously, though, no one has been complaining about the growth of Chinese manufacturing elsewhere in the U.S., either. For at least the past seven years China has been the fastest-growing source of non-domestic business expansion in the U.S. In fact, Chinese foreign direct investment here—that is, the amount of money used to acquire American companies or to build factories and other commercial facilities—reached record levels in 2014, about twelve billion dollars, up from five billion in 2009. Moreover, in the first six months of 2015, Chinese direct investment in the U.S. rose nearly fifty per cent compared with the same period the year before, according to the Rhodium Group, which tracks Asian economies.

Lately, most of this investment has been in real estate (such as Anbang’s $1.95 billion purchase of the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Manhattan, from Hilton) and technology (such as Lenovo’s $2.9 billion acquisition of Motorola Mobility, from Google). But manufacturing has also been a frequent target, beginning as early as 2000, when the Qingdao-based appliance maker Haier made Camden, South Carolina, the site of the first Chinese factory in the U.S. Since then, Chinese manufacturers have acquired or built facilities to produce textiles, copper, steel, automobile supplies, renewable-energy equipment, and industrial machinery, among other items, in dozens of states.

China’s emergence in the U.S. economy recalls another transplant frenzy some three decades ago, when Japanese companies entered the U.S. in droves, swallowing up iconic symbols, like Rockefeller Center and Pebble Beach Golf Club, and raising automobile and steel plants in the Rust Belt. Back then, the general response was anger and fear. After Honda Motors opened the first Japanese auto plant in the U.S., in Marysville, Ohio, in the early nineteen-eighties, followed by an engine factory in nearby Anna, Ohio, the company faced an onslaught of vicious anti-Japanese ads on TV and in print, often supported by American manufacturing trade and labor groups. In one memorable incident that grabbed headlines across the country, William Leitz, the mayor of Wapakoneta, Ohio, angrily resigned his position, saying that he could not work side by side with the Japanese. “I was on a destroyer [in the South Pacific] that was sunk,” he said. “I’m an American, and I love my country.”

The comparably subdued response to Chinese manufacturers speaks, on one hand, to changing circumstances, especially the broad acceptance of globalization in the United States and the desire, on the part of some politicians and business leaders, to create manufacturing jobs by whatever means necessary. But it also follows from a conclusion that American companies have reached about their Chinese counterparts: namely, that they are, thus far, relatively inconsequential rivals. Despite contracts like the one in Springfield, most U.S. producers don’t think Chinese manufacturing is good enough to pose nearly the same level of threat as Japanese companies did, decades ago.

The arrival in the U.S. of Japanese manufacturing methods precipitated a radical transformation in the accepted ideology behind how assembly lines should operate and how the highest levels of industrial productivity are achieved. This new factory model, which the Japanese call lean manufacturing, offered a blueprint for continuous plant improvement and innovation, driven by workers who are encouraged to experiment with new ways to enhance quality and productivity, and to minimize waste and inefficiency. In a lean factory, employee creativity and coöperation between management and assemblers are paramount, even if plant output is temporarily slowed to, for example, fix defects before a product is finished or to implement an untried process.

Armed with this uncluttered but potent set of ideas, Japanese factories were consistently more efficient and inexpensive to operate than their American counterparts, and their products were more reliable, durable, and attractive to consumers. Faced with these advantages, the initial disdain aimed at the Japanese companies was impossible to support for very long. In the early nineteen-nineties, Japanese manufacturing became the subject of an unlikely best-selling book, “The Machine That Changed the World,” and inspired a spate of analysis, implementation programs, educational programs, and self-help pamphlets. Today, no Western manufacturer can hope to compete on a global stage without adopting some version of lean production—an undertaking that remains difficult for many firms, because it can require altering not just assembly processes but a company’s culture, especially where worker roles, management, and methods of innovation are concerned.

It’s in these areas, though, that Chinese manufacturers are weakest. The country’s factory boom was made possible, instead, by low wages, subpar conditions, and few benefits. That strategy can succeed in emerging nations, especially ones with large labor pools, but it is not feasible in developed economies. The shortcomings of Chinese factories are most apparent in the relationship between managers and employees, which is based on an anachronistic top-down view of a factory as a place where the authority of supervisors is paramount, and workers are expected to take directions, perform tasks, do their work, and go home. There have been multiple reports of Chinese employers in the U.S. complaining that American workers are too outspoken and independent and are unable to follow rules. An American former executive of a Chinese firm operating in the U.S. told me that Chinese managers would complain, for example, that factory workers would arrive at a job five minutes late and not feel inclined to apologize. Such insouciance at plants inside China would lead laborers to be punished, for example by being sent home for the day, losing pay, forfeiting benefits, or being reassigned to more menial tasks. In the U.S., this approach has typically led employees to become more defiant and less assiduous. At Haier’s factory in South Carolina, Chinese managers had to be sent back to Asia because they were alienating workers and threatening productivity.

Perhaps the most extraordinary illustration of strained relations in Chinese factories occurred at the Golden Dragon copper-tube factory in Wilcox County, Alabama, last year, when workers voted to unionize the plant—an unlikely step in a right-to-work state where only about ten per cent of factory employees belong to organized labor, and in the face of a relentless and expensive “vote no” campaign led by Governor Robert Bentley. Golden Dragon workers complained that they received few benefits and that their wages, about eleven dollars an hour, were far below the pay for similar jobs in American copper plants in the South. Moreover, according to the union, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration had found fourteen serious health and safety violations in the factory in the first few months after it opened, in May, 2014. The vote was an extraordinary step, and an indictment of the factory conditions that at least one Chinese manufacturer expected to be able to export.

The perception that employees are interchangeable and replaceable has led turnover at factories in China to average an astounding thirty-five per cent a year among workers employed at least six months, according to Renaud Anjoran, an operations manager at China Manufacturing Consultants, in Shenzhen. “They’re seeing similar rates in their American operations. That’s a death sentence in the U.S., where employee skills, loyalty, continuity, job satisfaction and creativity—in other words, lean requirements—determine profitability,” he said. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, given these dynamics, Chinese factories are rapidly automating. Chinese companies now account for more than twenty-five per cent of global robotic-equipment sales, and it’s not unusual to come across a Chinese facility where as many as ninety per cent of the tasks are assigned to robots. Japanese manufacturers are among the least automated, by contrast, because, in their view, removing the human element eliminates the possibility of innovation.)

Moreover, some of the new facilities in the U.S., including the new C.R.R.C. plant in Springfield, are unlikely to be able to adapt their methods to the Japanese-inspired ones that predominate elsewhere here. C.R.R.C., like many other Chinese manufacturers in the U.S., is a state-owned enterprise, controlled by the Chinese government. State-owned enterprises accounted for about twenty-five per cent of Chinese investment in the U.S. this year, and since 2000 they have backed seventy per cent of China’s North American forays in the auto industry, according to the Rhodium Group. These companies do not enjoy a good reputation: recent research from C.E.I.C. Data found that they own forty per cent of the assets in China but deliver only twenty per cent of the country’s profits, and that their average return on assets is a meager two per cent, about fifty per cent below the private sector. But precisely because they lack the imperative to be profitable, productive, or competitive, state-owned enterprises like C.R.R.C. can underbid most other companies, winning contracts even when contract stipulations about quality, timeliness, worker treatment, salaries, and benefits are beyond their capabilities. Indeed, C.R.R.C.’s price for the Boston subway-cars job was two hundred million dollars lower than its nearest rival. Analysts contend that C.R.R.C. will almost certainly lose money on the deal, but that it was a strategic bid to gain a foothold in the U.S.

Given the deficiencies of Chinese manufacturers, the ho-hum response from U.S. manufacturers to the influx of new rivals makes sense; the welcome mats laid out by cities like Springfield are another matter. New factories are generally viewed as a source of good jobs and long-term economic improvement, and for that reason communities frequently offer companies discounted land and substantial tax breaks to open them. Springfield is forgiving about fifty per cent of C.R.R.C’s property taxes for the first three years and thirty per cent over ten years. But if the manufacturers turn out to be nothing more than low-paying loss leaders, cities may find that they’ve given away more than they receive in return. This would, in fact, be something to complain about.

Editor’s Comments

Bullet points from the article:

  • China is rapidly buying factories and real estate in the United States.
  • Unlike the 1980s, there has not been the Xenophobia like when Japan was doing the same thing. The reason: America is so used to globalization and offshoring of US jobs, that almost any  U.S. jobs are at a premium, therefore, the Chinese are being welcomed.
  • Japan’s effect on America’s manufacturing was positive and influential – Japanese management demanded quality and participation of labor to help make things better, which has eventually made it into many American management schemes.
  • Chinese management, however, has not been beneficial for US workers, in fact, their management technique is so retrograde that it is reminiscent of what US companies did in the early 1900s.
  • Many of the Chinese companies that start up companies here in the US are “State Supported.” This means a lot if not all of their finances come directly from the Chinese government, unlike US companies which almost never have any support from the Federal or State governments unless it is to give the companies tax breaks. Whether “State Support” is good or not is yet to be determined. Obviously in the short haul (the past 20 years) it has been an asset for China and their economy.
20
Jan
16

Topo Designs Co-Founder Jedd Rose

The following article is through Field Magazine. The article was written by Graham Heimstra about Topo Designs, a company in Colorado. Topo Designs started just making backpacks but has branched out making apparel for men and women – mostly outdoor wear, and other accessories, all made in the USA.

Thanks to a Continuous Lean and the blog entry Signals for pointing out the article. (Don’t forget to check out A Continuous Lean’s The American List – products made in USA).

Source: Q&A: Topo Designs Co-Founder Jedd Rose | The Field

What do you do when you’re a bag fanatic and lifelong outdoorsman, but all your favorite gear looks great but is too old to work well, and the well-working gear is too technical to take anywhere other than the trail? Well, if you’re Mark Hansen and Jedd Rose the answer is start your own company. And they did. And Topo Designs is it. Over the past handful of years the independent operation has grown from a modest collection of versatile backpacks to an increasingly wide range of bags, packs and now—much to our own excitement—apparel for both men and women. And it’s all made right here in the good old US of A.

We’ve long been a fan of the brand, drawn in by the vintage-inspired aesthetic and kept by the rugged quality and highly-considered functionality. At the core of the company, Topo exists to serve outdoor enthusiasts looking for gear and apparel that fits in with their daily lives, capable of making the transition from a hike in the morning to the office in the afternoon and a bike ride home at night.

We recently caught up with co-founder Jedd Rose to talk more about the Colorado-based brand’s ethos, where he sees the outdoor industry headed, and how their many well-received collaborations came to be. Keep reading to hear it from the horse’s mouth.

We’re firm believers that you don’t need to venture to some far flung, extreme destination to experience the outdoors. And correct us if we’re wrong, but we feel Topo is right there with us.

Yeah, absolutely, I agree 100%. I think that translates to how we build our stuff, too. I think very often people feel like their gear has to be at that level too. But all the super technical things that I own end up sitting in my closet and I end up using the fairly basic, utilitarian things the vast majority of the time. There’s definitely a place for all those technical pieces, but we decided to build our stuff so you can run over to the park, or run over to the trail just out in the foothills of town and do a hike. And then you can walk back down, jump in your car or jump on your bike, and go out and have a beer after.

With Topo [we make products] that are well-made and are very multipurpose and utilitarian, and can work in 90% of the environments that you’re in—products that are gonna be able to translate to wherever you are.

What about the “all or nothing” mentality that seems so prevalent in the more hardcore outdoor community?

We definitely are a huge proponent of the idea that not everything needs to be this extreme thing in order to do it. My family is from the Midwest and what I always enjoyed about going to Michigan to hang out is that the outdoors feels really integrated into a lot of people’s lives in a very unassuming way. They can just jump in their car—not a four-wheel drive, giant jacked up Jeep or anything, but just like a Buick—and drive out on a dirt road, and hop out and go fishing, or deer hunting or whatever. Then get back in the car, drive home and go to work after that. And it’s not this huge process.

Definitely in the Rockies it’s more often this massive ordeal where you have to have the most cutting-edge equipment to even open your door and step outside.[In the Midwest] the doing part is really the biggest side of it.

You know, one of my favorite things has been to take my 6-year-old son out and go fishing in some of the ponds that are right here in town, when we have an hour on the weekend. We can jump on our bikes, ride over to the pond, fish for 45 minutes and then ride home. And we got out and did something that day. If we had to go up to the mountains or we had to go to some remote destination, we probably wouldn’t be able to do it that day because we just don’t have enough time to do that.

It’s just so much better to do something than not do anything at all.

We do that too, but a lot more often we’ll do things in town because we can get out and do it easily. And that’s so much better than not doing it because it’s not this quintessential, ultimate extreme activity. It’s just so much better to do something than not do anything at all.

I think what’s also really important to realize is that you can also be, you know, as “extreme” about those little things as you want to be. You can do them very well to have a great experience. If I’m catching very small fish in a pond, I can do that very well and it can be very challenging and very fulfilling.

Do you feel the current generation views the outdoors differently than say, previous generations?

I think so, and I think it’s actually probably more similar to my parents’ generation than necessarily like someone like me, who’s you know, late 30s, and has been in the gear world forever—very often people my age don’t see outside of that and for them it’s all about the newest stuff.

The newer generation of kids, they’re definitely way more interested in the outdoors than a lot of generations before, which I think is great. But it’s a way more integrated, kind of a “trail and town” mentality where there’s a lot of bike riding and a lot of things around town, as well as traveling and camping and getting outdoors. It’s definitely more of an equal opportunity outdoor experience crowd, which is nice to see.

How do you approach designing products that will fit both in the city and in the outdoors?

Whether you’re in town or out of town, you kind of have the same needs in both environments. If you’re going to work, you need to take your laptop with you. If you’re going out hiking, you need to take some food, and water and basic stuff to be outdoors with. In both scenarios you’re very often carrying about the same amount of stuff, regardless of where you are.

Well, obviously, if you’re gonna be backpacking for multiple days, then you’ll need a definite set of gear. But for day trips and car camping, and doing things where you have a home base all the time, a little bit bigger bag or a little bit smaller bag should work in a lot of environments.

Has branching into apparel offered a way to break the mold of being known primarily as the guys who make colorful backpacks?

Yeah, absolutely, I mean it’s definitely a big new learning process for us, and it’s been really exciting. But it’s totally a real trick making it here in the US. We’ll go and talk to a bigger company about maybe using some fabrics and they’ll just kind of turn their head sideways like, “yeah, well, good luck with that.”

We definitely have a bunch of restrictions on the clothing side, but that actually helps mold the products, I think, in a cool way. I’d say the vast majority of fabrics are not even shipped to the US from overseas. So we end up using fabrics that are fairly basic—like really simple nylons that have been around a long time—which is great for us. They fit our aesthetic. So it actually turns out we actually don’t have the opportunity to get sucked into what everybody else is doing because we very often just can’t do it.

Do you guys plan on going into women’s apparel?

Yeah, we’re working on a women’s line right now that we’ll have out this spring. We have a ton of requests from women that they just want what we do, but in a women’s fit. So that’s what we’re trying to do.

I think very often women—at least the women that are interested in Topo—are a little bit frustrated by [women’s gear] always being a silly version of men’s. They want things that are really classic and cool and outdoorsy looking, but don’t have that kind of women’s frill that I think has left a bad taste in the mouth of many.

You’ve done some great collaborations in the past with Woolrich, Stüssy General Living, Giro, etc. How do these collaborations usually come about?

Most likely it starts when we are personally interested in a company because we really like that company and the product, and the possibility of adding our little flavor to somebody else’s thing that they crafted is exciting. So I think that’s number one for us.

Number two is that you know, for whatever reason, they’re just received so well for us and for all the brands we work with. So it’s a really fun thing to do because people are so excited when they come out. People tend to love it when two complementary brands come together. There’s just some sort of cool product magic that happens in the middle that I definitely can’t put my finger on, but it’s really fun.

You know, it’s really exciting for us to be able to make a fly rod that I really like or to make a bag with some amazing wool that has been around for generations. It’s just kind of a nice way to breathe life into our products, and their products, and talk about them in a different way.

And working with a really big company like Woolrich is a really stellar learning experience for us too—learning how they do things and how their sales work, how their production works, and kind of their global reach on things. And very often the larger companies that we work with too are looking to us to see how we do things, like in the new school marketing world of using Instagram and working with ambassadors to help spread the word. And how we do what we do on a limited budget. So it’s great to learn from a business side too.

Do you have any more collaborations in the works that you can share with us?

We’re probably going to be doing more with British streetwear brand TSPTR. They have the Snoopy license, so we’ll be doing some more Snoopy stuff, which I am pretty excited about. I love the aesthetic of that.

And then probably do some more things with our kind of general partners again, like Woolrich and Howler Brothers. And then we’re talking to a bunch of other people, so not sure which of those are going to go through, but there’ll be some.

So the answer could go on forever.

Yeah, exactly. But I love those projects, they’re really fun. Production may say otherwise, but I think they’re really cool.

Well, you’re the boss, so you win.

Right, sometimes…

all images courtesy of Topo Designs




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