If you haven’t already heard, we are in an era of resurging American made. This is a movement and economic battle to dominate manufacturing as we Americans once did. In any struggle regardless of context, allies are needed. Our story today focuses on Canada and why we should collaborate together in ramping up exportation.
Canada isn’t too far away, just look up. Our neighbor’s culture is similar in many ways, we are the progeny of European colonists, we’ve fought together in world wars and we’re both pretty good at hockey. Canada has grown with us through industrialization, shedding monarchical rule and contemporary battles against drug trafficking and corruption. Currently both of us are facing the loss of manufacturing gusto to Asia and we both want it back. As we speak there is a movement in Canada very similar to our made at home patriotism. In times of economical war we need allies, Canada is that ally that we should not turn our back to.
Some of Canada’s most renowned manufacturers have lost production ground to Asia in the past decades, let’s take a look at some of those that have fallen from glory:
Back in 2007 Hershey closed it’s chocolate factory in Smiths Falls ON, cutting 600 jobs. In 2008 only a year later the Cadbury-Schweppes factory shut down a plant that processed grape juice, eliminating 130 jobs.
Campbell Soup announced their doors would be shut in Listowel, ON in 2008, that decision ‘canned’ 500 jobs.
In 2014 Kellogg brand will shut down their London, Ontario location at cost of 550 jobs. Similar cuts in the United States are imminent.
In 2014 Novartis AG, a maker of contact lens solution will shut it’s doors at their location in Mississauga ON, cutting 300 jobs.
Some might find the following statistic shocking: In 2011 Canada closed 79 plants that cost 14,000 jobs, compared to the US closing 430 plants at a job cost of 63,000 also in 2011. What’s alarming is that Canada is a much smaller economy, this means they are losing manufacturing ground at a much higher rate.
“When the Heinz owners, for example, see a plant operating at 30 per cent of capacity, it’s an easy decision to absorb that production elsewhere, shutter a plant and save millions of dollars,” said Andreas Boecker as associate professor at the University of Guelph. “There’s a great deal of global competition in every marketplace and anytime there are dollars to be saved, those are relatively easy decisions.”
We must face the facts, if it can be made cheaper elsewhere the invisible hand of economics will surely guide it there. In order to protect and sustain our manufacturing economy we must focus on real reasons to make goods here. We are notoriously better at quality and durability. In fact Asian markets are beginning to recognize the durability goods here back at home. Carhartt sales in Japan have skyrocketed, strangely enough it’s considered a luxury brand and not the working man’s wear that it is used for here. Here are a few Canadian brands that have noticed this trend and decided to keep their manufacturing at home:
Raber Gloves – They’ve been making gloves for the RCMP, U.S. highway patrol, and various militaries since 1934.
Tilley Endurables – Headwear and clothing proudly made in Ontario.
Baffin – Shoes and footwear favored by outdoor laborers.
How do we leverage the fledgling appetite for sturdy, North American made? The following steps for success should be taken: manufacturers raise awareness of American & Canadian made products the same as any other brand would promote itself. Ad campaigns, niche retail stores, consumer engagement to name a few methods. We begin exporting our superior products and we do this to all continents. As reputation grows worldwide our factory output increases at home, we have more jobs and a larger export to import ratio. Maybe someday we can become the industrially strong continent that we once were in the 20th century. Regardless, this is how we can bring manufacturing back home, to Canada or the United States.
>> About the author: Benjamin is an entrepreneur from St. Paul, Minnesota. His belief in durable products grew from excursions throughout the wilderness of Northwest Ontario. This, in combination with pride in local manufacturing led to the founding of The Reliable Series. He is proud to offer stylish, hand-made, superior products from both the United States and Canada.