Metal stampers on reshoring

January 12, 2011

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The December issue of "Stamping News Brief" featured an item about reshoring, one of several terms used to describe bringing jobs back to the U.S. After citing examples of reshoring by companies such as Ford Motor Co. and Caterpillar, which also were covered in a recent blog post, the newsletter asked its subscribers to answer two questions about the trend: 1. My company has acquired work that formerly was done offshore – yes or no. 2. I expect the reshoring trend: To continue; to die when the economy improves; what reshoring? It's just a buzzword someone coined to give us hope that things are improving. 

How would you answer those questions? And would your answers match the majority of those who responded?

Twenty-nine percent of survey respondents reported that they have acquired work that formerly was done offshore, leaving 71 percent who have not. 

Responding to the second question, 32 percent chose the response: What reshoring? It's just a buzzword someone coined to give us hope that things are improving. Among this group is a subscriber who works for a Chicago-area company. He said, "Our company has been involved with companies that have moved offshore for the past 30 years. The three major press manufacturers, Verson, Clearing, and Danly, are gone and so is the infrastructure that supported them. These are the press builders that supplied the world. They are not coming back. Auto buys strictly foreign." 

While 17 percent expect the reshoring trend to die when the economy improves, the majority, 51 percent, expect it to continue. 

One who expects it to continue works for a Michigan-based company that has acquired work formerly done offshore. He said, "Although the MBA's felt there was value in offshoring, customers and end users are creating a purchasing backlash. I eschew Chinese goods as much as humanly possible, going out of my way to buy American if possible." 

Another, who works for a Pennsylvania-based stamping company that also has acquired reshored work, said, "We can compete and win any business that is not artificially subsidized; 9,000 miles is a long way to ship commoditized products on a competitive and timely basis." 

A subscriber from a Florida-based company said, "My company has convinced several companies that have their products made in China that pricing is becoming more and more competitive in the U.S. as Chinese workers are demanding higher wages, and in the U.S. we are tightening belts and becoming more productive." 

A long-time subscriber whose company has not benefited from reshoring still expects the reshoring trend to continue. However, he takes issue with whether Caterpillar's decision to reshore jobs to Texas is all that noteworthy, given the company's penchant for moving so many jobs offshore to begin with: "What is a real shame is that Illinois is losing those [Caterpillar] jobs. CAT has offshored way more than the jobs now being sent to Texas. Until the vast middle class in America is actually working, I cannot see how the economic recovery can be sustained. Tax cuts to the top 1 percent will do nothing to create jobs. American manufacturing needs ORDERS!" 

Manufacturing needs orders; workers need jobs; the economy needs to grow. Let's hope 2011 sees the tide continuing to turn our way.

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Vicki Bell

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