29
May
15

The Trade Debate Moves to the House

The Trade Debate Moves to the House | Alliance for American Manufacturing.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a large Free Trade deal, is just one small hurdle into becoming law. The TPP has passed the Senate and is now on to the House of Representatives. The TPP is an agreement between the United States and other countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Peru, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, Vietnam, and Japan. It effects 40% of all of the world’s economy. The TPP would eliminate import taxes from these countries into the U.S. and if history is any indication (see NAFTA – loss of 3.1 million U.S. jobs and the World Trade Organization – loss of 21 million U.S. jobs) we should see an increase in the offshoring of U.S. jobs. Below is the article:

 

The Trade Debate Moves To The House  written May 26, 2015 by Taylor Garland from the Alliance for American Manufacturing

The House will now have the chance to make trade work for American manufacturers and workers.

The Senate worked late on Friday to pass several bills before the holiday recess, one of which was the notorious Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The bill passed the Senate 62-37 without strong and enforceable currency rules, regrettably.

That’s not to say the Senate didn’t have the chance. The Senate voted to reject the Portman-Stabenow amendment to address currency manipulation with strong and enforceable provisions in TPA on Friday afternoon by a vote of 48-51.

But all is not lost in the trade debate for American manufacturers and workers.

The Obama administration and Republican leadership in the House may need to extend an olive branch — trade enforcement — to Members of Congress who represent districts that have been negatively impacted by unfair trade. There are two bills in the House that that would make it easier for U.S. industries to fight back against unfair foreign trade practices.

The first, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, overwhelmingly passed the Senate 78-20. This bill includes the Schumer Currency Amendment that directs the Comerce Department to investigate undervalued currencies as a subsidy under U.S. trade remedy laws. The second enforcement measure, the American Trade Enforcement Effectiveness Act, was introduced in the House last week by Rep. Mike Bost (R-Ill.).  Both bills are backed by several steel industry leaders.

The House of Representatives has the chance to stand up for American businesses and workers who face of flood of illegally dumped imports. “Trade enforcement and currency manipulation must also be addressed as a part of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, or trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership will fail to deliver for American workers,” said Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul.

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The legislative wrangling in trying to pass the Treaty is interesting. It pits politicians whose areas that do not depend on any manufacturing (they are for the TPP) against politicians that still have some remnants of American manufacturing who are verbally against it. Since America does not have much manufacturing anymore, the manufacturing politicians are in the minority. And to cope with the expected loss of U.S. jobs, these politicians have worked hard to add an amendment to compensate for the Americans that will lose their jobs. Obviously, corporate America does not want this amendment. And corporate America has a history of looking for quick profits at the expense of America’s future.

It is truly amazing that this big news which will cause the loss of millions of U.S. jobs, yet, gets no media coverage. In fact, if you ever read the rare newspaper article, it is no mistake that they avoid using the terms: “Free Trade” or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Reuters’ newspaper recently did a poll about “The Trade Policy”, 56% of Americans were for it! There is a major problem with this survey: I know that less than 10% of Americans know a single thing about the TPP. How could they? Nobody on the American news mentions it and no one can not even read about the actual legislation. So, why have a poll about an issue that nobody has ever heard of? Obviously, it is a ploy to sway public opinion.

Consumers Reports reported that more than 80% of Americans would like to buy American made products, even if it costs more. However, there is a giant business conglomerate that doesn’t want you to buy anything American and if it has it’s way, you won’t even be able to tell whether anything is “Made in the USA.” It is called the World Trade Organization. Their agenda is to offshore all American manufacturing for increased corporate profits and to end labeling of all products. They have already been successful in repealing laws that says where meat comes from (Country of Origin Labeling [COOL]) and they have passed legislation so that Americans can not know when chickens are processed in China and then sold in the USA. It is just a tiny step until they repeal the labeling of clothing, appliances, automobiles, food, etc (obviously objects “made in China” are going to suffer when it goes directly up against “made in USA”- you saw the Consumers Reports article didn’t you?).

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is bad for America’s present and future. Especially when you consider that China (which is the world’s largest economy – thanks to the WTO) joins the TPP – which it can do at any time. NAFTA and the World Trade Organization has put American manufacturing and the American middle class on its deathbed, the TPP is NAFTA on steroids, and it will nail the coffin shut and bury our future 6 feet under. Why is this Free Trade Treaty any different than the other Free Trade treaties (NAFTA, WTO)?  It is exactly the same.  Conservatively, it will cost the United States over five million jobs (and it won’t just be manufacturing jobs) over the next 15 years. You can take that to the bank. Got any good ideas on how to bring good paying jobs into the United States over the next 15 years? No? Funny, nobody does. Certainly, free trade deals will not do this.

Stop the TPP. Make the government reveal the Trans-Pacific Partnership to the public.

22
May
15

Lumina Clothing Sale Items | Lumina Clothing – American Made Menswear

Lumina Clothing Sale Items | Lumina Clothing – American Made Menswear.

The Lumina Clothing Company is a classic modern American story. In the “About Us” section, Lumina started making neckware in the midst of the Great Recession. The company, then, became a maker of ties made in the USA. In 2012, Lumina wanted to become a full wardrobe maker of men’s clothing and went to Kickstarter – a crowd funding organization – to fund their ambition. And through Kickstarter, Lumina got their financial backing to make trousers and shirts as well as open a store in Raleigh, North Carolina. The clothes are quite reasonably priced (unless you are one of those people who only buy their clothing when it is on clearance).

Lumina Chadbourn Chino pants

Lumina Chadbourn Chino pants

Lumina Connor Poplin Graham button down shirt

Lumina Connor Poplin Graham button down shirt

Thanks to Carol Flynn Ireland for pointing out this company. Check out the Lumina clothing website.

22
May
15

Made in America – Consumer Reports

Made in America – Consumer Reports.

SPECIAL REPORT

Made in America

 

Most Americans love the idea of buying a U.S.-made product instead of an import. But sometimes it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not.

Published: May 21, 2015 06:00 AM

Almost 8 in 10 American consumers say they would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey. And more than 60 percent say they’re even willing to pay 10 percent more for it. For some, the decision might stem from a belief in American quality and safety. Others might think it’s the best way to support the American economy and workers. But in our increasingly complex global economy, how much meaning does a label stating “Made in America” still hold? (Get more details from our nationally representative survey by clicking on the image a right.)

Some iconic American products, from the Apple iPhone to Cuisinart food processors, have little or no manufacturing presence on these shores, while many foreign makers have invested heavily in manufacturing plants in the U.S. The auto industry has long grappled with what it means to be made in America. But now, because of a wave of “reshoring,” many appliance manufacturers and other companies are moving significant operations back to the USA. Since 2010, about 300 companies have returned here, according to the Reshoring Initiative, an industry-supported not-for-profit that focuses on bringing manufacturing jobs back.

And yet the perception persists that American manufacturing is in decline. It’s fueled by the fact that very few products sold in the U.S. in certain high-profile categories, such as consumer electronics and clothing, are actually produced here. But the Department of Commerce reports that between 2009 and the end of 2014 , U.S. manufacturing output grew by 45 percent, 646,000 jobs were added between February 2010 and May 2014, and another 243,000 positions are waiting to be filled. (Even so, such growth hasn’t made up fully for losses during the 2008-2009 recession.)

Two reasons cited for a resurgence of American manufacturing in recent years are newly cheap energy and the narrowing gap in labor costs between the U.S. and other countries. But it’s not just about costs. A third factor is increased investment in research and development.

Some analysts say that the frontier in innovation lies in “brainfacturing.” It’s a term that describes a new wave of manufacturing focused on research in digital technologies, automation, and new materials. In certain industries, such as software, American companies are so dominant that other countries are enacting legislation to encourage development of their own products in order to lessen their reliance on U.S. technology.

No matter how you define a “Made in America” label, though, it has selling power, and many marketing departments are rushing to capitalize on it. But consumers often don’t know whether they can trust the claim. The Federal Trade Commission has issued standards for products that bear a “Made in the USA” label, but those guidelines aren’t widely understood. And the claim gets even more confusing when compared with products that say “assembled” or “designed” in America. Adding to the cacophony, there is plenty of outright deception by companies that slap Americana on their products, in hopes they’ll be able to cash in on public sentiment before getting found out as a fraud.

In an effort to capture the wide range of voices on this nuanced topic, we asked 13 leaders to weigh in. We also provide a guide to some of the highest-rated products—ones that live up to the “Made in America” promise.

Who gets to use the ‘Made in America’ tag?

Renewed pride in American manufacturing has made it more fashionable—and profitable—for companies to wax patriotic in their advertising, even when the claims are far from bona fide. “We see many goods which say ‘Made in the USA,’ but they’re actually made in China,” says Hal Sirkin, a senior partner at The Boston Consulting Group, global-management consultants.

The federal government’s “Made in USA” standards empower the Federal Trade Commission to take action against companies that make false or misleading claims.

All or almost all of a product bearing the label must be of U.S. origin, i.e., it should contain no foreign content (or a negligible amount) and its final assembly or processing must take place within the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or U.S. territories and possessions.

But the standards also allow manufacturers to make “qualified” claims for products that aren’t entirely of domestic origin. One example: a GE refrigerator with 87 percent U.S. content.

Why fakes sneak through

The role of the FTC is to provide guidance to companies that want to use the label; it doesn’t police every product on the market. “It’s often a question of context,” says Julia Solomon Ensor, a lawyer for the agency. “A product may convey that it’s made in the USA, with a huge American flag on the package, but then there will be a tiny qualifier saying it consists of 100 percent imported parts.”

The FTC would certainly challenge that kind of claim, but only after receiving a formal complaint from an outside party. “Most complaints come from competing companies, who can best determine if a product is truly made in the U.S.,” Ensor says. “It’s very difficult for the typical consumer to know if a claim is true or not.”

It doesn’t help that the FTC standards allow companies to design their own labels, unlike the federal Energy Star program, for example, with its distinctive blue label that’s a recognized mark of energy efficiency. ‘Made in the USA’ labels, by comparison, take many forms, as the examples below show.

Paradoxically, plenty of products that really are manufactured domestically don’t carry a ‘Made in America’ label. For example, many Kenmore appliances are produced in the U.S., but you won’t see any patriotic labeling on them because Kenmore also has contracts with foreign manufacturers.

How to recognize imports

Given the vagaries of “Made in the USA” labeling, another strategy is to look for a “Country of Origin” mark, which Customs and Border Protection require on all imported products. It must be in a conspicuous place where it can be seen with casual handling, so you should be able to find it easily while shopping in a store. With refrigerators, for example, the country of origin is on the manufacturing sticker usually found on an interior wall. With gas grills, the sticker can be found on the back of the metal frame or cart. (Bear in mind that the marking isn’t required on American-made products.)

We’ve mined our current Ratings in a dozen product categories for recommended models that were made in the USA out of mostly U.S.-supplied parts, even if their manufacturers don’t advertise the fact. See our list.

If you come across a claim that seems bogus, file a complaint at ftc.gov or call 877-FTC-HELP. An investigation will probably take a while, and the FTC won’t respond to you directly, so playing the vigilante role won’t help with your immediate purchase. But you’ll be doing your part to uphold the integrity of the “Made in the USA” claim.

Just how American are these iconic brands?

Photo: Trey Wright

 

Company

Key facts

GE Appliances (Louisville, Ky.) Since 2009, GE has invested $1 billion to bring some of its manufacturing home to the U.S., with most of the investment going to Appliance Park, a 900-acre facility in Louisville. That’s led to 3,000 new manufacturing jobs. GE’s qualified “Made in America” label tells how much U.S. content is in each appliance. For example, the company says its bottom-freezer refrigerators comprise 87 percent domestic parts.
Whirlpool (Benton Harbor, Mich.) It’s the world’s largest appliance manufacturer; its brands include Amana, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, and Maytag. It’s also the leading producer of U.S. appliance factory jobs with eight factories nationwide employing 15,000 workers. About 80 percent of Whirlpool appliances sold in the U.S. are made here. Some foreign components are used, but Whirlpool’s label doesn’t indicate how much.
Frigidaire (Stockholm, Sweden) Frigidaire, whose label says “Built with American pride,” was founded in Fort Wayne, Ind., in 1916. It remained a U.S.-owned company until 1986, when it was purchased by the Swedish multinational Electrolux (which is also in the process of acquiring GE Appliances). Electrolux has been moving its manufacturing to Asia, Latin America, and other low-cost areas, but Frigidaire still maintains five plants in the U.S., including one in Memphis, Tenn., that opened in late 2013.
Apple (Cupertino, Calif.) Although a few Apple products are American-made, including the Mac Pro computer manufactured in Austin, Texas, the bulk of its manufacturing happens in China. Hence the “Designed by Apple in California” label shown above. Apple claims that its innovation has produced more than 1 million U.S. jobs. But only 66,000 are actual Apple employees, including 30,000 retail workers.
Ariens (Brillion, Wis.) Although many of its engines are imported, Ariens, which boasts of “American craftsmanship,” employs more than 1,000 American workers in three factories to produce outdoor power equipment. Another 400 U.S. workers design, test, sell and support its products and customers.
Troy-Bilt (Valley City, Ohio)  Troy-Bilt’s label, which says “Rooted in America,” plays up its agrarian origins. In 1937, it revolutionized the rototiller, which is still a signature product, along with lawn mowers, leaf blowers, and other outdoor power equipment. It was bought by MTD, a Cleveland-based manufacturer, in 2001. Its five U.S. factories use a combination of domestic and foreign parts.
 Thanks to the Alliance of American Manufacturing who highlighted this Consumers Reports special edition.
19
May
15

Perils of Globalization When Factories Close and Towns Struggle

Perils of Globalization When Factories Close and Towns Struggle – NYTimes.com.

With the legislation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (a free Trade treaty) coming perilously close to passing, we should look at a much smaller fore-runner of the TPP, it was called NAFTA – The North American Free Trade Agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico. The below article was written by The New York Times. And one of the results from NAFTA is a unique phenomenon – it caused “manufacturing ghost towns”. It is very difficult to rehab these small little towns that were devastated by NAFTA (and the World Trade Organization).

Perils of Globalization When Factories Close and Towns Struggle

From the New York Times

Michael Patrick by the defunct Maytag factory in Galesburg, Ill., last week. Credit Ryan Donnell for The New York Times

GALESBURG, Ill. — Even in this city of abandoned factories, it is possible to see some of the benefits the United States reaps from increased foreign trade: At the rail yard, where boxcars of bargain-price Asian goods are routed to American consumers; at the nearby slaughterhouse, where pigs are packaged for the global market; and at Knox College, where almost 10 percent of the students now come from foreign countries.

It is also hard to miss the enduring costs. In 2004, Maytag shut down the refrigerator factory that for decades was Galesburg’s largest employer and moved much of the work to Mexico. Barack Obama, then running to represent Illinois in the Senate, described the workers as victims of globalization in his famous speech that year at the Democratic National Convention.

A decade later, many of those workers are still struggling. The city’s population is in decline, and the median household income fell 27 percent between 1999 and 2013, adjusting for inflation.

George Carney, who drove a forklift until the day the factory closed, and then found work as a bartender, is now receiving federal disability benefits. He says he is bitter that American policy makers smoothed Maytag’s road to Mexico by passing the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s.

“I don’t believe in laying someone off, in taking away someone’s livelihood just so other people can make more money,” Mr. Carney said as he nursed a beer in a windowless bar on the banks of the Mississippi River. “Why would I want to destroy that person? Why would I want to destroy lives?”

It is one of the basic principles of economics that trade is good and more trade is better. But as Mr. Obama presses Congress for the authority to negotiate a new generation of trade deals, the struggles of Galesburg illustrate why some economists have come to doubt the relevance of that orthodoxy. The costs of globalization have been greater and more enduring than they expected, and government efforts to mitigate the impact on American workers have often proved insufficient.

“I think what we’ve learned is that U.S. labor markets aren’t as flexible and self-correcting as I think we had presumed,” said Gordon Hanson, an economist at the University of California, San Diego. “The uneasiness I have about the way we’ve handled globalization is not so much globalization itself. It’s that if you don’t have the right safety net, you’re going to impose an enormous amount of hardship.”

There is also mounting evidence that the benefits of globalization have accrued disproportionately to upper-income households, while the costs have fallen heavily on the less affluent, contributing to the rise of economic inequality.

The Obama administration has presented the proposed agreements — one with nations that border the Pacific Ocean, the other with Europe — as, in part, a shield against globalization that would require other nations to move closer to American standards for environmental protection, worker rights and intellectual property.

But the administration and many outside economists say further trade, despite the negatives, is still clearly beneficial.

David Weinstein, a Columbia University economist, said the image of downtrodden Galesburg should be set alongside the prosperity of Silicon Valley, because the decline of manufacturing in the United States helped free resources to feed the high-tech boom.

“There was a sense that by losing the ability to produce computer chips, we were going to see the American electronics industry collapse, and it turns out that those cheap imported electronic components were just the thing that all of these companies needed,” he said. “What these critiques miss systematically is that the losers know who they are, but the winners don’t know who they are yet.”

Drop in the Bucket

Trade deals are at the center of the political debate about globalization, but for all the sound and fury they generate, recent deals have played only a small role in the expansion of global trade. In 2013, on the 20th anniversary of Nafta, the Congressional Research Service reviewed the research and concluded it was not that big a deal. [Well not compared to the WTO -Ed.]

“In reality, Nafta did not cause the huge job losses feared by the critics or the large economic gains predicted by supporters,” the report concluded.

[Editor’s note: the report doesn’t say how many U.S. jobs that were lost – some sources have said as little as 670,000 jobs and as high as 3.1 million jobs. Before NAFTA, the trade between U.S, and Mexico went from (1993) a $1.7 Billion surplus to (2012) $61.4 Billion deficit. Before NAFTA, there were zero cars imported into the USA, now Mexico has imported $40.1 Billion vehicles into the USA].

Since Nafta, the United States has made trade agreements with 17 other countries, but the estimated impact of those deals, taken together, is even smaller — a few snowflakes added to a snowball already rolling downhill.

The seismic shift came after World War II, when the United States and other developed nations began to minimize tariffs and other barriers. Global trade grew as industrialization spread, particularly in China, and thanks to innovations including the standardized shipping container and the Internet.

Tracy Warner, who worked at the factory for 15 years, is now a teacher’s assistant. Credit Ryan Donnell for The New York Times

Just as individuals benefit by working in one field and using their earnings to pay for other goods and services, economists contend that nations, too, prosper by specializing: exporting what they have and importing what they want.

A 2005 study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a research group in Washington that is a strong proponent of trade deals, estimated that embracing trade had added about 7.3 percent to America’s economic output — or about $10,000 in annual income for every household in the United States.

But the benefits are not distributed evenly. Trade increases overall prosperity by eliminating less productive jobs. In theory, the workers find new jobs. In practice, studies by Mr. Hanson and other economists show that in cities like Galesburg, global competition is increasing unemployment and reducing wages.

Josh Bivens, an economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, estimates that increased globalization, aided by a strong dollar that led to a persistent trade deficit, reduced the annual earnings of the roughly 70 percent of American workers without college degrees by about $1,800.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Columbia University economist and Nobel laureate, said the magnitude of these losses was large enough that increased trade may now be harming the American economy.

“The argument was always that the winners could compensate the losers,” Mr. Stiglitz said. “But the winners never do. And that becomes particularly relevant when we have a society with as much inequality as we have today.”

Few Job Options

Richard Lindstrom, whose family has owned an appliance store on Galesburg’s Main Street for the last 89 years, said sales fell when Maytag left. But that was about the same time he started selling many imported high-definition televisions.

“We rode that crest, and it really offset the drop in appliance sales,” he said.

Some Maytag workers were able to find better jobs. Mark Semande is now a foreman on the BNSF railroad, which has prospered greatly from increased trade. He made $14.50 an hour at the factory. Now he makes $28.93. With overtime, he estimates that his pay has tripled.

But many of the 1,600 Maytag workers were not as fortunate, according to Chad Broughton, a lecturer in public policy at the University of Chicago who chronicled Galesburg’s struggles in his book, “Boom, Bust, Exodus.”

Tracy Warner, who worked at the factory for 15 years, has not come close to matching her former salary of about $37,000 a year. She works as a teacher’s assistant by day and a janitor by night and makes about $21,000.

Mr. Semande — whose father also worked at the factory — said he expected that his two daughters, ages 13 and 15, would move away when they grow up. “Maybe they could find jobs and live in the community,” he said, “but not if they want to do as well as us.”

Downtown, Lindstrom’s Appliances displays an early refrigerator. Credit Ryan Donnell for The New York Times

Trade also tends to reduce prices, and there is evidence that lower-income households may benefit disproportionately, because they spend a larger share of income than wealthier households on the goods with the largest price declines. This Walmart effect may partly offset the distribution of income gains.

A study published last year estimated that international trade had lifted the purchasing power of lower-income American households, at the 10th percentile of the income distribution, about 62 percent. For wealthy households, at the 90th percentile of the income distribution, the power increase was 3 percent.

The variety of imports has also roughly tripled since the 1970s, according to a 2006 study that Mr. Weinstein, the Columbia economist, helped write. “We benefit from the fact that it’s no longer just a choice between Maxwell House and Folger’s,” he said.

Walmart opened a supercenter in Galesburg in 2007, but Mr. Broughton said the arrival of the store could hardly offset the loss of the factory.

“The decline in the quality of life for working-class families has not been nearly matched by the low, low prices,” he said. “Maybe those diffuse benefits have benefited America more generally. But it’s not the case in Galesburg.”

Lying Idle

President Obama returned to Galesburg in 2013 to deliver an economic policy speech at Knox College. “Let’s tell the world that America is open for business,” he said. “I know there’s an old site right here in Galesburg, over on Monmouth Boulevard — let’s put some folks to work.”

But most of the old factory has been demolished. The last trace of its former life is a “Maytag Drive” street sign. The last refrigerators to roll off the line sit in a makeshift museum at the back of a downtown antiques mall.

Michael Patrick, who started working at the factory in 1959 and became a senior union official representing workers throughout the region, said job losses were nothing new. Companies went out of business, mechanized, moved to new cities. He recalled that in the 1970s, the workers who made the shells of refrigerators were replaced by a new machine the size of a football field.

The difference in recent decades, he said, is the absence of new companies.

But Mr. Patrick is not sentimental about what he views as the end of manufacturing in Galesburg. He said he focused on getting as much funding as possible to help his members train for new careers. He went to work after high school, he said, partly because there was no junior college in Galesburg. Now there is.

“Manufacturing was for people like me,” Mr. Patrick, who is now 73, said.

When Ms. Warner, 49, learned that the plant would close, she finished an associate’s degree at the local community college, then won a share of that training money to pursue a degree in communications at Western Illinois University.

But two years of tuition was not enough to reconstruct her life.

She is proud of the degree, but it has not helped her find a job. She lacks professional experience, and jobs in Galesburg are scarce. She has a teenage son and she does not want to move.

“I just needed a little more help,” she said. “I didn’t ask for my job to be taken out of the country.”

Thanks to the Alliance for American Manufacturing for pointing out this article.

17
May
15

Greg LeMond’s next ride -Bicycles Made in USA

Greg LeMond’s next ride | MinnPost.

Believe it or not Greg Lemond has re-started his own bicycle company and the even bigger news, he is having his bicycles made in the USA.

Greg Lemond’s Next Ride

Photo by Travis Anderson
Greg LeMond

Greg LeMond. If you don’t remember him, you’re not the only one. After challenging the legitimacy of Lance Armstrong’s seven consecutive Tour de France victories, LeMond was ostracized by the cycling community and largely forgotten.

But that began to change in 2012, when the U.S. anti-doping agency revealed Armstrong’s doping and he admitted his victories were tainted by the use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and LeMond once again became America’s only legitimate Tour de France winner. Today, he’s not only back for cycling fans, he’s back in business.

Twin Cities BusinessThe retired cyclist has been in commerce much of his adult life. He owned a restaurant in Edina and bought into a bagel chain that flopped. He eventually realized his expertise lay in what he knew best: cycling. In past ventures. racing distracted him, and later he was relegated to a figurehead role by companies he did business with. This time around, he is eager to be more hands-on, which he relishes. “It’s the design side that I enjoy,” says LeMond, who lives in Medina. “Now that I only ride recreationally, I am much more in touch with what the average recreational rider needs and wants.”

LeMond LLC is really two businesses, based in Northeast Minneapolis. One, LeMond Fitness Revolution, has released an improved version of his indoor bike trainer, the LeMond Revolution. It is the company’s cash cow, generating most of overall revenues, with sales volume in the thousands. The other, LeMond Bicycles, turned out limited-edition models of the bikes he rode to win three Tours de France; this past fall the company introduced the Washoe, the first of a new line of bikes that LeMond hopes will eventually become a force in cycling. For now, though, LeMond Bicycles is a business more focused on product development, with annual sales under 1,000 bikes.

LeMond Revolution
Trainer bike, $400 to $1,400
66% of overall revenues
Sales in “seven figures”

LeMond Bicycles
Washoe road bike,
$2,350 to $8,300
Sales under 1,000 to date

Commemorative
Tour de France bikes,
$6,500-$10,000
Limited production of 300 (nearly sold out)

The Washoe might be just what you would expect from LeMond, an unconventional product. It’s a high-end steel frame competing in a world of carbon-fiber frames (the pros and most of their fans all ride carbon). It’s a road bike at a time when national road bike sales have been flat.

LeMond chose steel for reasons both sentimental and practical. “My first bike was steel, the first bike my company made was steel,” he says, “and I wanted a bike I could travel with.”

The Washoe has received wide praise in online chat rooms and in bike reviews. “The Washoe had us drooling,” Men’s Journal gushed. “I love the way this bike looks and the way it rides,” says Gene Oberpriller, a former pro mountain-bike racer who owns One On One Bicycle Studio in Minneapolis. “For him to stick with something classic says something about his conviction. He could have very easily slapped his name on someone else’s carbon frame, but I think he took the right path by not following the trend.”

LeMond Bicycles sold out of its first run of 100 Washoe bikes within three months—on target with projections. Through February, sales have increased each month, with the majority of bikes sold in the U.S. LeMond completed a second run of 150 bikes and is producing another 150. He says the company is profitable, though he is not yet drawing a salary. The new bike reflects the unconventional spirit that defined his cycling career and fuels his business pursuits, but its success will depend on whether he can tame that spirit in order to bring the focus required to build a business.

“The bike business is like a restaurant—there’s a super-high failure rate,” Oberpriller says. Yet he likes LeMond’s chances. “This is the best effort we’ve seen from him so far.”

Unrealized potential

The LeMond of today does not look like the LeMond who last won a Tour de France in 1990. He’s 53. His hair’s gone silver. He’s at least 50 pounds heavier. But a closer look finds the smile’s the same–that wide, lopsided, boyish grin. His ice-blue eyes still sparkle. And he can still draw you into his orbit with his charisma.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
Tour de France leader Laurent Fignon of France (R), Greg LeMond of the U.S. (C) and Pedro Delgado of Spain break away from the pack in the climbing of l’Alpe D’ Huez during the 17th stage of the Tour de France cycling race in this July 19, 1989.

Ask a question, and you’ll get an extended monologue skipping from one tangent to another. Although he dropped out of high school to race in Europe, LeMond is knowledgeable about a wide variety of subjects—many of which he has studied obsessively, ranging from mitochondria to metallurgy. “The best word I can use to describe him is brilliant,” says Doug Knox, a former cyclist who has known LeMond since the 1970s and done business with him. “But he’s not a make-it-happen kind of guy.”

LeMond thrives on new ideas, but that can also be a liability. By his own admission, he has ADHD. He can barely blurt out one idea before he conceives another.

“He’s the typical entrepreneur,” says his son, Scott, 28,who has been working with him on product design and implementation. “Every month there’s a new idea. I’m like, ‘Dad, focus.’ ”

The upside of these traits has allowed LeMond to seek new and better methods that contributed to his success and revolutionized cycling. He was an early adopter of hard-shell helmets, clipless pedals, sunglasses, computers, mountain-bike suspension and carbon frames. Most famously, in the 1989 Tour he became the first rider to use aerodynamic triathlon bars that helped him win by eight seconds, the narrowest margin of victory in Tour history.

“The sport was steeped in its history and traditions,” LeMond says. “Riders and coaches shared these mystiques about what was the right way to train, what you should eat, when you should sleep. Everything was regimented, but not on a modern scientific basis.”

LeMond brings that same thinking to business. “He challenges convention,” says Tim O’Brien, who has worked with LeMond on product design over the past four years. “He’s never satisfied with the way things are being done and is always thinking of a better way to do it.”

LeMond figured out early how to turn his cycling accomplishments into profits. In 1986, the year he won his first Tour, he marketed his own Team LeMond brand of clothing and accessories. He licensed a display to bike shops to place alongside his line of LeMond bicycles. He licensed LeMond bikes to Trek Bicycles in 1995, the year after he retired from pro cycling.

But his primary source of income evaporated in 2008 when Trek stood by Armstrong, who had become the face of the company, and stopped distribution of LeMond’s line, which had yielded $100 million in revenues for Trek and $5 million for LeMond, according to media reports confirmed by LeMond. Legal battles cost him most of his earnings from Trek.

Along with his line of road bikes, he developed a stationary bicycle called the LeMond Revmaster—unique for the way it measured power output—that he licensed to Life Time Fitness. He developed the Revolution—an indoor trainer that closely resembles the feel of actually riding on the road. He marketed and sold the machines through his company then known as LeMond Fitness.

LeMond with his Revolution trainer in 2010.

In 2012, he sold LeMond Fitness to Hoist Fitness, based in San Diego, but retained the rights to the Revolution. He redesigned the trainer, adding the “WattBox,” a small attachment that feeds speed and power data to the rider’s GPS or other personal monitoring device. He relaunched the Revolution in late 2013.

Trek and LeMond settled their lawsuit in 2010 under confidential terms—LeMond says only that the settlement was pennies on the dollar, though he regained the rights to his bicycle line. After that, TIME Sport International in France approached him about producing a limited-edition series of the three carbon-frame bikes he rode in his Tour-winning years of 1986, 1989 and 1990. Sales began in 2013.

At the same time, he considered designing his own carbon-frame bicycle and buying TIME’s manufacturing operation to produce it. For this venture, he partnered with Brian McGann, an Irish business consultant.

The timing seemed like it couldn’t have been better. Armstrong’s drug use became public in October 2012; his fall revived LeMond’s image and brand.

The European TV sports network Eurosport signed LeMond to provide daily commentary on last year’s major stage races. LeMond on Tour proved so popular, attracting 17.6 million viewers during the Tour’s three weeks (by comparison, NBC had 3.8 million U.S. viewers of its coverage) that Eurosport renewed the contract for 2015. The network also gave him a monthly television show that airs in 56 countries (though not the U.S.), giving him access to the world’s largest cycling audience. “And they’re all [potential] customers,” he says. The LeMond name is most notable abroad, where he enjoyed his cycling success. “They never lost the fire for LeMond there,” says Gene Lew, who knows LeMond and worked in the industry. “There’s a lot of viability in the LeMond brand in Europe.”

LeMond’s relationship with TIME spawned a deal with its American subsidiary TIME Sport USA that allowed LeMond exclusive rights to distribute TIME handlebars, frames and stems, along with shared rights to sell its pedals in the United States. He expected the arrangement to provide a valuable and necessary revenue stream.

But sales lagged and LeMond and Doug Knox, president of TIME Sport USA, disagreed on basic strategy; Knox cancelled the partnership in February 2014.

With little product to sell other than the Revolution and his limited-edition bikes, LeMond laid off his customer sales staff of two selling TIME products out of his Minneapolis office. About the same time, TIME Sport International was found to be financially unable to spin off its manufacturing operations. McGann pulled out.

LeMond had to change course. He had designed a steel-frame bike and decided to manufacture it in the U.S. He introduced the Washoe — hand-built in Portland, Ore., custom-painted in Roseville and assembled at LeMond’s facility in Minneapolis — this past September.

An unconventional model

On a February afternoon, Scott LeMond shores up a wall between the company’s offices and what will be the production floor. LeMond’s companies moved to the Thorp Building in Northeast Minneapolis from more expensive offices in the Warehouse District just the week before. Everything is in disarray. Power tools are scattered across the floor. Employees have to step over extension cords and around boxes to reach desks pushed against the far wall. In the other room, there are no bike frames, just boxes of trainers stacked to one side. It looks every bit like a company trying to remake itself.

Most notably, Greg LeMond is not here. He is in Europe, attending a bike show in London, then headed to Spain to film spots for Eurosport. Over the past two years, he has been in high demand. Being pulled in many directions further taxes his ability to stay on task and threatens his bike business’ already tenuous focus.

Kathy LeMond, Greg’s wife, who describes herself as responsible for the family’s executive functioning, has taken on a greater role, monitoring company finances and vetting business decisions. Scott has assumed the majority of design and production oversight. A software engineer, a web guru, an accountant, a customer sales rep and a marketing rep in France round out the skeleton staff of eight.

At present, the three LeMonds own the businesses outright, but LeMond knows he needs to raise capital and plans for several more key hires, including someone to manage daily operations. Right now, almost all decisions go through Greg. “I do not want to be running the company day to day,” he says. “I like the creative side and the marketing, developing new ideas.”

Perhaps LeMond’s most innovative—and riskiest—stratagem is his sales model. While he plans to sell through a few select independent bike dealers, he is banking on reaching customers directly online. His experience selling TIME products through dealers reinforced his conviction that the traditional sales model does not work. “It made me realize there’s a part of the business I can’t follow, selling into the independent dealer market,” he says. “You spend all of your time servicing dealers.”

Selling directly to consumers yields higher margins, cuts out the middleman and eliminates the need to front product to dealers. With the exception of Canyon, a German concern selling almost exclusively online to European customers, bike manufacturers have not used the Internet as the primary means to sell product in volume. “It’s the only industry that doesn’t sell direct to the consumer,” LeMond says. “Right now less than 1 percent of all bikes sales are done online. There’s a huge opportunity in the direct-to-consumer market. No other brand can do that because they’re tied into their relationships with dealers. That’s a competitive advantage for us.”

While LeMond sees the direct-to-consumer model as the future, it may not be so easy to convert U.S. customers. Many people want to test-ride a bicycle before purchasing it. They also rely on a dealer to help get the right fit. And, as with a car, they like having a dealer who knows their particular brand to service it.

“He’s pushing the envelope—that’s been his history—but I’m not sure it will work here,” Lew says. “In Europe, consumers are more responsible for their purchases. In the U.S., people figure, ‘If I don’t like this, I’ll just take it back.’ I don’t think the amount of sales completion will be as high online. Consumers can ride a bike once and send it back.” In 2014, Revolution revenue hit seven figures; LeMond would not be more specific, but it is clearly the tail that wags LeMond LLC’s dog. The trainer, which starts at $630 (add another $250 for the WattBox) accounted for about two-thirds of the company’s overall revenue; bikes and accessories made up the other third. The limited-edition series initially sold better than expected, but there is little inventory left, and no more will be built. Even with several new products scheduled for release this year, LeMond expects the revenue mix to remain the same, though bikes will eventually generate a larger share as more models are released.

greglemond.com
The steel Washoe.

But he suggests LeMond LLC will not experience significant financial growth for another two to three years. “We’re not focused on sales right now,” he says. “We’re looking at development, on designing new products and building our infrastructure.”

Next in line is the LeMonster, which LeMond expects to launch this spring, a go-anywhere, aluminum-frame bike that combines the geometry of a road bike with oversized (29-inch) wheels and the ruggedness of a mountain bike.

He envisions a steel-frame cyclocross bike hitting the market this summer. He’s working on a full line of carbon-frame bikes—road, triathlon, cyclocross—manufactured in the U.S., which he hopes to launch next spring. The triathlon bike holds special appeal because his creativity is not crimped by cycling’s governing body restrictions that apply to road racing bikes. “The tri bike is the most exciting for me because I’m working with a design that allows you to go faster,” he says. “Part of the fun of riding a bike is when you go faster. That’s what gets people hooked.”

He is also exploring electric-assist bikes. “I see an opportunity to bring cycling to more people,” he says. “It’s the fastest-growing market in transportation in the world. But right now I’m focused on my core expertise: road-related performance bikes.”

He has already redesigned the Revolution trainer to make it compatible with any type of bike (road, mountain, cross) and by fall hopes to have two additional models on the market. One will be compact, easier for travel, and sell for about $400. The other will be a higher-end, programmable electronic bike priced around $1,400.

It’s a lot for a small company to go after. LeMond obviously likes to think big, with far-reaching plans. “He’s got a lot of different ideas,” Tim O’Brien says. “He needs a solid team to implement that.”

John Rosengren is an award-winning journalist and one-time amateur cyclist.

This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.

14
May
15

blouses made in usa | Nordstrom

blouses made in usa | Nordstrom.

Nordstroms, family owned, Department stores continue to be one of the best places to find Made in USA clothing. Their inventory of Made in USA clothing is about 2-3%, but it is still better than the national average and at least twice as good as any other department store chain. Each season they update their offerings and add new brands made in the USA. Here are few of the Made in USA blouses found at Nordstroms.

Pleione Split Neck blouse

Pleione Split Neck blouse

Karen Kane Half Placket Floral

Karen Kane Half Placket Floral

Komarov Print Chiffon

Komarov Print Chiffon

Jason Wu Silk Fil Tunic Blouse

Jason Wu Silk Fil Tunic Blouse

Nordstroms has a great assortment of blouses for women at any price range. Check them out at the link: shopNordstroms

Of course you can do it yourself, search Nordstroms, then under search: type in blouses made in usa and voila, you are there. Buy American.

12
May
15

Cord Shoes Made in Atlanta

Shoemaker Keeps it Made in the ATL | Alliance for American Manufacturing.

This is a nice story from The Alliance for American Manufacturing, it is about Cord shoes which are 100% made in America and based out of Atlanta.

Shoemaker Makes It Made in the ATL

by Elizabeth Brotherton-Bunch on May 1, 2015

American-made Cord Shoes + Boots emphasizes quality over quantity.

Atlanta-based Cord Shoes +Boots does things a little differently than most shoemakers.

For one, each shoe is handcrafted using traditional construction methods. While bigger brands might emphasize volume, Cord is focused on quality. All of the company’s shoes and boots are completely hand-crafted, with no cementing or bonding.

Photo courtesy Cord Shoes + Boots.

Cord Shoes + Boots are also 100 percent Made in America, part of the company’s desire to rebuild shoe manufacturing from the ground-up.

“We’re committed to having a local workforce that’s able to be trained, able to have more than a living wage,” says Danny Echevarria, marketing and operations director at Cord Shoes + Boots. “We’re committed to creating work, not just creating products.”

With styles for both men and women, Cord offers a modern, fresh take on classic work boots. There’s also a line of handcrafted accessories, including wallets.

“We want to create more jobs, and those jobs don’t just have to be in the creative sector, like so many jobs that are created these days. Creating more opportunities in the manufacturing and industrial sector is also important to us.” Danny Echevarria, Cord Shoes + Boots

Cord prices start at $395, which is higher than many consumers are used to paying. But Echevarria promises that it’s worth the cost.

“What you get is a durable product that at the end of the day you don’t throw away. It’s not a disposable product,” he says. “Our shoes may cost more, but in the lifetime that you are going to be wearing them, you’re going to have bought worse quality shoes three for four times over.”

Cord is a “very humble production shop” at this point, Echevarria says. Company founder Sarah Green designs and handcrafts the shoes herself, supported by two apprentices. Echevarria handles the marketing and operations side of the company.

But the company hopes to expand in upcoming months, including hiring additional staff and beginning to offer its products in retail outlets (right now, the shoes are only available online).

“We want to create more jobs, and those jobs don’t just have to be in the creative sector, like so many jobs that are created these days. Creating more opportunities in the manufacturing and industrial sector is also important to us,” he says.

In addition to supporting American workers, Cord products also support local organizations close to the company’s heart. Right now, for example, a portion of the company’s proceeds support the nonprofit Atlanta Underdog Initiative, which focuses on pit bull and mastiff rescue.

The inspiration? The company’s shop dog, Poe.

“Moving forward, we’re going to offer a unique line of products related to issues we care about,” Echevarria says. “A portion of the proceeds from each product will go to a different organization.”

Visit Cord Shoes + Boots online. 

Cord Shoes and Boots

Cord Shoes and Boots




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