The Wall Street Journal had an article similar to one I mentioned in a blog last week saying that manufacturing in some areas of the U.S. is coming back. Many factories have been revived, in part by upping the ante on the products made, according to the WSJ. The article focuses on one city as a case study: Manitowoc, WI. There, factories have started producing energy-efficient light fixtures and steel towers for wind turbines, along with ice-cream machines and bomb parts.
An old plastics company, Kaysun Corp., is moving into products it believes are insulated from overseas competition, such as plastic housing for global positioning system devices carried by U.S. soldiers. Before, it was producing plastic household products that eventually were sourced overseas, burning the business.
“The economic forces working in favor of U.S. manufacturing include a weaker dollar, which is helping drive sales for exporters and their suppliers. Rising transportation costs are encouraging companies to buy and produce more goods closer to home. An infrastructure and mining boom abroad is boosting orders for the huge cranes made by Manitowoc Co., one of the town’s oldest companies. At the same time, rising labor costs in some countries are starting to make outsourcing less attractive.”
This is not to say that the woes facing manufacturing in the U.S. are going away. As the article points out, Manitowoc does not have a deep dependence on either of the sectors currently struggling in the U.S.: residential housing and cars. But it is interesting to point out how some of the manufacturers in Manitowoc are evolving with the times, finding ways to use their expertise to create innovative products not yet threatened by low-cost country sourcing.
Click here to read the WSJ article. (Subscription to WSJ may be required.)
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