Is it too late to Manufacture things in the US again?

July 8, 2020

Let me start with a bunch of questions that I still don’t have all the answers to. How is it possible that during a pandemic that we are left with no masks, gowns, respirators? How did we get to the point that we have to rely on another country to get us protection equipment? If we would have US manufacturing kicking in full gear would we even have to shut down dental practices across the US?

How can we help turn things around to start manufacturing products in the US again?

Lots of questions and I also hear a lot of excuses, “too expensive”, “Who would pay X amount for a mask made in the US”, “What’s the problem with making things overseas?”, “We don’t have the material to make the product here”, “Labor is too expensive in the US”.

Remember the days when American made was a big thing, at least I do! Growing up in Russia I remember craving Levi’s jeans. It was a huge shortage and if you can get a pair, you could literally sell them on the black market for double the cost (reminds me of the current PPE struggle :). To me, Levi’s was an epiphany of the quality. When you wear American jeans it was a statement. It was Freedom!

So why can’t we get back to making things here, in the US, again?

In search of answers to my above questions, I frequently asked our distribution partners “Why can’t we get US-made products"? Some were even able to get the equipment but couldn’t source the raw material. We continued to ask and most of the time the answer was “It’s impossible”! Until one day, one of our Zen Members sent an email with an introduction to a nonprofit organization in Detroit, Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center, originally started as a community-driven nonprofit for apparel manufacturing, that had to change gears during the pandemic and start making gowns and masks.  

So as usual, I got in the car and drove to Detroit to see how in the world a nonprofit is figuring out how to solve this “impossible” challenge. After being greeted by Kimberly, who checked my temperature and asked medical-related questions, I was welcomed to the manufacturing floor. I was Wowed from the first minute: equipment, people, space, drawing boards, raw material, the meeting room, all of it makes you feel part of something special. Makes you feel you are part of the big dream!  

A short walk through:

After a few minutes of meeting Jen Guarino, CEO of the ISAIC, I started trying different gowns, masks and kept on asking lots of questions. Curious to find out the answers?  

In this short interview I ask Jen Guarino, CEO of the ISAIC nonprofit organization, important questions related to US manufacturing:

  • The cost of manufacturing products in the US and what are the drivers of cost?
  • How to stop losing trade skills due to manufacturing moving overseas?
  • How Manufacturing is solving a lot of the problems that our society is going through today?
  • Is it too late to bring manufacturing back to the US before we lose trade knowledge?

I really hope you find this interview informative and I ask you to pledge 20% of your ordering to the US-based manufactures.

Full Interview is here:

Tiger Safarov

CEO, ZenSupplies Inc

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