Last American Baseball Glove Maker Refuses to Die

Last American Baseball Glove Maker Refuses to Die

Aug 14, 2017

By Andrew Mayeda, Bloomberg News New Equipment Digest How is a niche manufacturer of baseball gloves in northern Texas still hanging on? Good ol’ American grit. This little brick factory isn’t supposed to be here. It should be in the Philippines, or Vietnam, maybe China. Not here, in the heart of Texas. Baseball gloves, like many other things, aren’t really made in America anymore. In the 1960s, production shifted to Asia and never came back. It might be America’s favorite pastime, and few things are more personal to baseball-lovers than their first glove — the smell, the feel, the memory of childhood summers. But most gloves are stitched together thousands of miles away by people who couldn’t afford a ticket at Fenway Park. One company didn’t get the memo. Since the Great Depression, Nokona has been making gloves in a small town outside Dallas with a long history of producing boots and whips for cowboys. There’s a livestock-feed store next door to the factory, which offers $5 tours for visitors who want to see how the “last American ball glove” is made. You can watch employees weave the webbing by hand, feed the laces through the holes with needles, and pound the pocket into shape with a rounded hammer. The American flag gets stitched into the hide — and that, they say at Nokona, is more than just a business matter. “Made in America means you believe in our country,” said Carla Yeargin, a glove inspector and tour guide at Nokona, where she worked her way up from janitor. “We have the love for the ballglove, because we made it here.” And the final product could cost you 25 times more than a foreign-made version at the local discount store. Yes, that’s partly a reflection of the premium nature of the Nokona line but still it represents a huge challenge for the company, as well as for Donald Trump. “Making it here” is a big deal for the president. Last month Trump staged a week of events to celebrate U.S. manufacturing, showcasing products from Campbell’s soup to Caterpillar construction gear. July 17 was declared “Made in America Day.” “Restoring American manufacturing will not only restore our wealth, it will...

The Reshoring Challenge: Why and How CEOs are Moving…

The Reshoring Challenge: Why and How CEOs are Moving…

Aug 9, 2017

“The Reshoring Challenge: Why and How CEOs are Moving Jobs Back to America” By William J. Holstein, Chief Executive For his reshoring initiative, Rongione paid to move unique knitting equipment from China to Pennsylvania in part by using a YouTube video of Jackson to appeal to investors on Kickstarter, the crowdsourcing website. Bollman, which says it is America’s oldest hat company, with more than $10 million in annual sales, bought the Kangol brand in 2001 from a British company. That company had previously sent all of its custom-made machines dating back to the 1930s and 1940s to southern China, where it made the beret-like Kangol hats. So Bollman, in effect, inherited a factory in China, containing the special machines that performed at much lower costs than any new machine might. Bollman struggled to manage the factory profitably and ultimately sold it to a Chinese hat maker, but that arrangement fell apart and the idea to simply move the equipment to central Pennsylvania was born. Rongione set aside some of the employee-owned company’s funds, raised some from the state of Pennsylvania and then launched the Kickstarter campaign. Jackson, wearing a t-shirt that reads “Motherfunder,” a slight variation of a word he’s known for uttering on screen, appealed to viewers to support the move. They did, ponying up more than $100,000. The company recently moved 10 of the knitting machines, is preparing to move dozens more, and is hiring workers at a starting hourly wage of $10.30 an hour. But it is finding that its workers, both new and old, have a big learning curve ahead of them in absorbing how to master the knitting process, which is new to the company. “Hiring people with the specific knowledge has been virtually impossible,” Rongione says. “No one has the knowledge on this type of equipment.” So the company has brought in experts from Britain who are familiar with the equipment and worked with a local community college in Reading, Pennsylvania, to train students to become apprentices. The final outcome remains uncertain. “We still have a mountain to climb,” Rongione says. HOMEWARD BOUND More American CEOs are, in fact, deciding to bring home jobs from China and elsewhere....

Manufacturing Adds 16,000 Jobs in July

Manufacturing Adds 16,000 Jobs in July

Aug 7, 2017

By Bill Koenig, Advanced Manufacturing US manufacturing added 16,000 jobs last month, with makers of durable goods doing the heavy lifting. The durable goods sector added 13,000 jobs while makers of non-durable goods boosted employment by 3000, according to a breakdown by industry issued today by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Notable job gainers included fabricated metal products (up 5000 jobs), transportation equipment (3800) and machinery (2100). Within transportation equipment, motorized vehicles and parts added 1600 jobs. That sector had lost 1300 jobs in June. The auto industry is seeing US sales soften following a record 2016 with 17.55 million deliveries of cars and light trucks. US light vehicle sales fell 7% in July and are down 2.9% for the first seven months of 2017, according to Autodata Corp. Automakers are also coping with plunging demand for cars. Those deliveries slid 14% in July and are down 12% for the first seven months. Widespread Gains Most durable goods categories had at least small employment gains. The few job losers included furniture (down 1600 jobs) and miscellaneous manufacturing (down 200). Manufacturing jobs totaled 12.425 million on a seasonally adjusted basis last month. That’s up from an adjusted 12.409 million in June. The July figure also was an improvement from 12.359 million manufacturing jobs in July 2016. Total non-farm employment increased by 209,000 jobs last month, the bureau said in a statement. That was better than the 183,000 gain forecast by economists polled by Reuters. The US unemployment rate edged down to 4.3% from 4.4% in June. Manufacturing jobs peaked in June 1979 (19.6 million on a seasonally adjusted basis, 19.7 million unadjusted). That sank to a low of 11.45 million adjusted and 11.34 million unadjusted in February 2010 following a severe recession caused by the 2008 financial crisis. Since that low, new manufacturing jobs have been created requiring increased skills because of more automation and technology in...

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some…

Jul 31, 2017

“Want to Revive U.S. Manufacturing? Walmart has Some Suggestions” By Ian Wright, Engineering.com Revitalizing American manufacturing has been a hot topic for some time, gaining prominence as a talking point in last year’s election. Donald Trump’s victory led many to speculate about the future of manufacturing in the U.S., particularly whether it’s possible to bring manufacturing back to America. The latest piece of advice on this topic comes from a rather surprising source: Walmart. The retail giant recently convened a meeting of representatives from governments, businesses and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to present a Policy Roadmap to Renew U.S. Manufacturing. “As we’ve worked over the last four years alongside our suppliers toward our goal to source an additional $250 billion [USD] in products that support American jobs, we’ve learned a great deal about the challenges our suppliers face in domestic manufacturing,” said Cindi Marsiglio, Walmart vice president for U.S. Sourcing and Manufacturing. “The good news is we’ve also learned how to overcome the challenges and, because of our experience, Walmart is uniquely positioned to help facilitate broad engagement in accelerating the expansion of U.S. manufacturing.” Before proceeding to the specifics of Walmart’s roadmap, it should be noted that a 2015 study by the Economic Policy Institute estimated that Walmart displaced over 400,000 jobs in the United States between 2001 and 2013 as a result of Chinese imports. The majority of these jobs were in manufacturing. In 2013 alone, the value of Walmart’s imports from China amounted to approximately $45 billion; this is the same year Walmart committed to sourcing an additional $250 billion over the next decade on products that support American jobs. Irony aside, Walmart’s policy roadmap cites four major barriers to U.S. manufacturing growth: Lack of an available, qualified workforce. Lack of coordination and financing in supply chains. Complexity and costs of local, state and federal regulations. Outdated tax system and trade agreements. According to an analysis conducted by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), addressing these policy barriers to domestic manufacturing creates an opportunity to recapture approximately $300 billion in consumer goods that are currently imported, including furniture, cookware and sporting goods, potentially resulting in the creation of an estimated 1.5 million American jobs. Walmart’s roadmap includes ten “policy levers” to address the major...

Inspired by Trump, Samsung in Talks to Open South Carolina…

Inspired by Trump, Samsung in Talks to Open South Carolina…

Jun 26, 2017

“Inspired by Trump, Samsung in Talks to Open South Carolina Factory” By Timothy W. Martin, Wall Street Journal South Korean electronics giant would move some oven-range production to Newberry, S.C., facility from Mexico SEOUL— Samsung Electronics Co. is in late-stage discussions to invest about $300 million to expand its U.S. production facilities at a factory soon to be vacated by Caterpillar Inc., according to people familiar with the matter, with an announcement expected as early as next week. The facility eyed by Samsung is in Newberry, S.C., a town located about 150 miles northwest of the port of Charleston, the people said, with plans to shift over some production of oven ranges made currently in Mexico. The investment could generate around 500 jobs, and though the start date is unclear, production would likely begin next year, the people said. Samsung could eventually ramp up U.S. manufacturing of refrigerators, washers, dryers and other home appliances in subsequent years, the people said. Final details over incentives and other matters are still being hammered out between Samsung and South Carolina officials, the people said. Though unlikely, it is still possible for either party to walk away from the pact, the people said. The timing of the announcement could still change, the people said. But South Korea’s newly-elected President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to meet U.S. President Donald Trump for the first time next week in Washington. A Samsung spokeswoman declined to comment. Samsung’s interest in a U.S. factory was influenced by the election of Mr. Trump, who vowed on the campaign trail to bring more manufacturing jobs back into the country, The Wall Street Journal reported in March. Mr. Trump’s reshoring mantra brought promises from Asian billionaires such as SoftBank Group’s Masayoshi Son and Foxconn Technology ’s Terry Gou. Foxconn, the assembler of iPhones and other electronics, said Thursday it was considering seven states in the American heartland to invest $10 billion or more in factories. Samsung’s crosstown rival LG Electronics Inc. said in February it planned to build a new factory for washing machines in Tennessee, its first major U.S. plant. Samsung had previously said that it started reviewing U.S. options in the early fall last year,...