Ceramic Industry

Can U.S. Manufacturers Remain Competitive?

March 30, 2012


CBS recently featured The Homer Laughlin China Co. in a segment called Fiesta: Brightening up the Table. While the report is very interesting and does a great job of portraying Homer Laughlin’s commitment to quality American-made ware, one can’t help but be reminded of the numerous ceramic and glass companies that sadly no longer exist in the U.S.

The good news is that, despite the sluggish pace, multiple signs are pointing to an economic recovery. With jobs and factory orders on the rise, we’re seeing renewed optimism for American manufacturing. But not all the news is good.

“U.S. manufacturers are not out of the woods yet,” writes John Sprovieri in Five Ways to Revive U.S. Manufacturing. “Although the sector added 404,000 jobs from January 2010 to January 2012, it’s still down 3 million jobs from January 2003. And, the 11.8 million manufacturing jobs tabulated in January 2012 is still a fraction of the peak level of 19.5 million in 1979. Other data provide further cause for concern. From March 2006 to March 2010, business startups are down 24%. In 1960, the U.S. accounted for more than two-thirds of global R&D. Today, two-thirds of global R&D is performed outside of the U.S.”

To help U.S. manufacturers remain competitive, Jack McDougle, senior vice president for manufacturing for the Council on Competitiveness, will deliver the keynote address at Tech ManufactureXPO, a free virtual trade show to be held May 2. McDougle’s keynote address, “MAKE: An American Manufacturing Movement,” is scheduled for 9-10:00 a.m.

Can U.S. manufacturers maintain their competitive edge? Beyond the cold reality of P&L statements stand millions of Americans who need the manufacturing sector to thrive in order to support their families. As Joseph Wells III, president and CEO of Homer Laughlin says in the CBS report, “My grandfather and my father, their goal was to provide jobs for the people that live here. I kind of think that’s a nice goal to have.”