How "Made in the USA" Pays Off for Small Business

More and more, customers are seeking out American-made goods. Is your business set to meet that need?
November 01, 2012 Computer maker Lenovo has announced something unusual in the world of electronics. The Hong Kong-headquartered company is going to begin manufacturing some of its PCs at a new production line under construction near Greensboro, N.C.

Lenovo said in the announcement that the company believes in investing locally in the markets it serves.

If manufacturing in the U.S. is good enough for the world's second-largest vendor of PCs, does that mean it's right for your small business?

Todd Lipscomb, founder of MadeinUSAForever.com, an online retailer of U.S.-made consumer goods, shares his top ten reasons why you should consider using domestic suppliers.

1. Quick response. "Fashion changes fast," Lipscomb says. "American makers can respond, build and ship this week while that cargo container from China is still months away."

2. Superior quality. Lipscomb, who is a veteran of the high-tech industry and a business author as well, is sold on the idea that products made in this country are better than products made overseas.

"Quality is better and more standard here. Better quality means happier customers and lower cost," Lipscomb says.

3. Better safety standards. Lipscomb is concerned about the overall safety of products made in other countries and cites a statistic of 83 million toys made overseas being recalled because of lead contamination.

"Makers in China have no idea what their subcontractors are doing to cut costs and it can cost you," Lipscomb says. "Chemicals in your products are your liability."

4. Patriotic premium. Many Americans consumers seek out products that have been made in the U.S. Lipscomb says most will even pay a higher price for a product that was manufactured on our shores.

5. It's bi-partisan. It's not just flag-waving, red-state residents who look for the "Made in the USA" label. Affluent, educated, liberal-minded consumers are also starting to reject Chinese-made merchandise in favor of domestically produced goods.

Lipscomb points to businesses like AG Jeans and Green Toys that have found retail success with their U.S.-made products.

AG, named for founder Adriano Goldschmied, makes all its premium jeans from start to finish in America. While a pair can cost as much as $180, the company competes with plenty of other brands that charge just as much for denim stitched overseas.

Green Toys have become a hot seller in upscale children's boutiques. The company prides itself on manufacturing all of its toys in California out of eco-friendly materials True to its West Coast roots, its product line includes a recycling truck and a build-your-own salad set. For eco-minded parents, the "Made in the USA" stamp means Junior's carbon footprint is a lot smaller. 

6. China is getting more expensive. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that overseas labor is getting more expensive.

"As wages spike in countries like China, more companies are discovering a cost advantage of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the United States," the Department reports on its blog.

Lipscomb says it is more than just wages that are rising; transportation costs are on the upswing as well.

"Today's advantage might be tomorrow's liability," Lipscomb says.

7. Easier returns. It's more difficult to send something back if it has to travel far and go through customs. Lipscomb makes the point that it is more expensive to ship imports back if they are damaged or defective, or worse, than to return inventory domestically.

8. Retain more control. The farther away something is, the harder it is to control it. "Make it here and you can control every process and do it right," Lipscomb says.

9. Thwart copycats. If you're concerned about imitators, you might want to keep your manufacturing closer to home. "Production abroad means your products are easily copied," Lipscomb says. "Your supplier might end up being your worst competitor."

10. Be an economic engine. Making things in the U.S. keeps Americans employed, and pumps money into the economy through wages, taxes and sales. 

"Making it here is right for our nation," Lipscomb says. "This is not just great for your marketing efforts, but also for your overall bottom line."

Carla Turchetti is a veteran print and broadcast journalist who likes to break a topic down and keep her copy tight. That's why this bio is so brief! Carla blogs via Contently.com.