Challenges of Getting a Product Made in the U.S.A.
For companies that choose to manufacture American-made goods, there are many pitfalls. The NY Times has documented one company’s journey:
Many manufacturers perform a cost-benefit analysis when deciding whether to move production abroad. Others, however, are determined to make their products in the United States, even when the costs are higher.
It was craftsmanship rather than the bottom line that motivated Brian Holmes when he decided in 2010 to start a business and went looking for a manufacturer. He and his wife, Kari, started Pad & Quill, a company based in Minneapolis that makes high-end cases and other products for the iPhone and other Apple products.
“They had to be beautiful,” Mr. Holmes said of his products. “Good art is a beautiful product that is functional.”
To make the high-quality cases he set out to sell, Mr. Holmes needed a bookbindery that could stitch together the protective wood and soft leather he wanted to use. But he found out that in the digital era, bookbinding is a dying industry. He searched overseas and found a vendor in China, but was unimpressed with the results.
“I’ve never seen bookbindery quality better than in the United States because of the tradition here,” Mr. Holmes said. After several months of research, he found one he liked close to home: Trendex, a company based nearby in St. Paul.
Mr. Holmes said keeping production in the United States was not only possible, but that it offered added benefits to a seller. It improved the turnaround time, he said, and customers were willing to pay more for American-made goods (his iPhone cases range from $50 to $110 — about twice as much as a typical case). Plus, it gave him a sense of pride knowing that he was creating jobs and helping the economy.
His efforts come at a time when other American luxury brands are reshoring, or moving overseas production back to the United States, believing that cheaper is not always better.