Mark’s Musings – August 29, 2012

| August 29, 2012
Mark Fortune

Mark Fortune

An interesting article came to my attention late last week thanks to my Dad. As reported in the Aug. 20, issue of Footwear News, on shoring is the new off shoring. According to the article, a number of American footwear firms are moving production back to the U. S.

The article went on to say that, “Manufacturing overseas is becoming less attractive: Transportation, material and labor costs are skyrocketing, and you’ve also got ocean carriers implementing slow steaming to save fuel, so it’s taking even longer to get product,” said Nate Herman, VP of International trade for the American Apparel & Footwear Association. The challenges are finding people that know how to set up the complex machinery that makes shoes, and particularly binds the sole to the “upper” of the shoe. As Colin Hall of Allen Edmonds stated, “If you’re going to start manufacturing here, you’re basically going it alone. You’re reinventing those processes.” [1]

The article went on to cite that the situation in China is very uncertain. Prices there are continuing to creep up, and challenges are many in quality control and logistics. (China is a big place you know)

So, there you have it. We could literally be on the cusp of rebuilding our manufacturing base and creating jobs that actually pay a decent wage, come with some benefits and more. The footwear manufacturing business is of course, primarily based on the east coast and in the New England states, all going back to colonial times when Americans started manufacturing shoes instead of importing them from England.

In fact, I was surprised to learn that some of the popular brands of tennis shoes are made in the United States, instead of China like I (and perhaps everyone else) thinks.

New Balance has five factories in the New England area, Keen Shoes boast a 15,000 square foot facility in Portland, Ore. and sandal maker Vere has a factory in Geneva, N.Y. Of course, Allen Edmonds has been made in the small town of Port Washington, Wis. since 1922.

I’m not saying that unemployment is going to drop overnight, but certainly this has to be encouraging to those of us who continue to read the gloom and doom of jobs going overseas. Labor costs rising in China means manufacturing there is not quite as efficient as once viewed, increased freight and travel time across the ocean in an age of instant gratification and on demand inventory could very well result in jobs returning to America.

Are we ready? How could little ‘ol Coshocton County benefit from this news? While I am anxious for the Utica Shale to take hold, I don’t think it is a long-term solution. It’s go time folks, and if you’re ready, we’re ready, you can make things happen.

[1] Source: Footwear News, August 20, 2012, Volume 68, No, 29. “Homeward Bound”, Erin Clack, pp. 40-44.

Category: Mark's Musings

About the Author ()

I live with my beautiful wife Nancy on a small farm just outside Coshocton. We have been married for thirty two years and have two grown children, Jessica and Jacob. Jessica is married to Aaron Mencer and they are employed with Coshocton City Schools. Jacob is a sophomore at Kent State University. I graduated from River View High School, have a Bachelor’s Degree from North Carolina Wesleyan University and am actively involved with the Roscoe United Methodist Church, serve on several local committees and am a member of the Coshocton Kiwanis Club, having served as Past-President. I love reading, especially military thrillers, the Civil War and history in general. My goal is to write a novel. My wife and I are also AdvoCare distributors and encourage anyone wanting to lose weight, gain energy and better health to explore AdvoCare at our website; I love the media field, innovative technology and have worked in newspapers for over 30 years – in fact, my first job was delivering newspapers. The Beacon is a dream made possible by the support of this community and a great team. I hope to continue serving Coshocton County for many years.

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