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Tapping into the power of ‘Made in the USA’

By Bridget McCrea

Long before American businesses were thrown into the global marketplace, companies based in one of the 50 states manufactured most of the products purchased and consumed domestically. Fast forward to 2012 and the landscape is decidedly different. The typical supply chain has been strengthened, lengthened, and stretched to the point where products now hail from all points of the globe.

Through it all, the “Made in the USA” label has held it value in the eyes of domestic and international consumers. “Products made here have a huge cache overseas,” says Ro Khanna, former deputy assistant secretary of commerce for the Obama administration and author of the new book, Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America’s Future.

“People in Brazil, India, China and many other countries want to buy American-made products and are willing to pay a premium for them,” says Khanna, who has seen similar sentiment among U.S. businesses and consumers. The label itself represents quality, he says, and “the highest possible standards.” Those two qualities alone – not to mention the patriotic pride that comes from buying items made on American soil – have driven the growth of Made in the USA products nationwide.

“Everyone right now wants to make sure that they’re buying products that are environmentally safe and made with the highest standards by labor that was [properly] compensated,” says Khanna. “That’s what Made in the USA stands for.”

Tapping Into the Trend

IDEAL Industries, Inc., of Sycamore, Ill., is one electrical products manufacturer whose product lineup includes items that are made 100% in the United States. With more than 6,000 products in its catalog, Wire-Nut® Wire Connectors, Yellow 77® Wire Pulling Lubricant and T®-Stripper Wire Strippers, IDEAL has stepped up its Made in the USA line to meet the growing demand for domestically-produced items. 

“Momentum has been building over the last two years with demand coming both from distributors and end users,” says Joe Saganowich, vice president of sales and marketing, electrical group. Just last week, for example, Saganowich received an email from an end user, thanking him profusely for making products in the United States versus overseas.

“I’d say we’re definitely seeing a resurging pride in Made in America products,” says Saganowich, who sees significant opportunities for distributors who take the time to market such products, which often fetch a higher premium over their foreign-made counterparts. They also hold more value, according to Saganowich, who points out that a recent IDEAL customer survey found 80% of customers felt U.S.-made products were of importance and valuable.

That value, and the premiums that go along with it, can be parlayed into better profit margins for the distributor that faces the constant challenge of finding the right balance between product costs and wholesale prices. For distributors looking to capitalize on their Made in the USA stock, Saganowich suggests starting at the point where many Americans are feeling frustration right now: the job market.

“No one is immune to the fact that unemployment rates are high and more investment in the U.S. is sorely needed,” Saganowich says. The sales rep who can point out to a contractor that “this new line of products was made by a manufacturer that saved hundreds of jobs through recent acquisitions while keeping operations on domestic soil,” for example, can get a leg up on the value proposition during the sales cycle.

When it comes time to pull out all of the stops, consider this statistic from TAP America, a non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening America and its citizens:  recent reports indicate that if each American spent an extra $6.41 on U.S.- made goods each week that this alone would create almost 1 million new jobs. This equates to less than one dollar per day spent to help buoy the economy and put American employees back to work.

Making a Point

Sometimes all it takes is a well-placed finger – on the “Made in the USA” label stuck to the side of a product box, for example – to sway an end user to pay a little more for an item that’s made on American soil. Using similar messaging on marketing flyers, brochures, catalogs, and web advertising can also help to get the point across. “For many, buying Made in the USA products is an obvious choice,” says Saganowich. “Distributors just need to do a good job of notifying customers about their options in this regard.”

Khanna concurs, and says that the movement to support U.S. manufacturers is not only strong, but it’s also gathering steam. Expect more domestically-made products to hit the shelves over the next few years, as the “re-shoring” trend continues. “The distributor that can leverage this movement will definitely have an advantage over the competition,” says Khanna, “particularly if that competition has overlooked the Made in the USA trend.”

McCrea is a Florida-based writer who covers business, industrial, and educational topics for a variety of magazines and journals. You can reach her at bridgetmc@earthlink.net or visit her website at www.expertghostwriter.net.

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