Domestic Manufacturing

Unionwear Wins Inaugural Reshoring Award

| Posted by unionwear

The Reshoring Initiative and SEAMS, the domestic textile manufacturing association, presented their inaugural Manufacturing Reshoring Award to Unionwear for bringing cut and sew jobs back to the USA. Unionwear’s 180 workers in Newark, NJ make baseball hats, backpacks, and other bags for the promotional products, fashion, and uniform industries.

Unionwear’s technological innovations have leveled the playing field with imports by highlighting small batch, quick turn manufacturing. Unionwear’s predictive configuration tool at http://www.trillionhats.com allows it to sell custom made products using a traditional webstore experience rather than a cumbersome online configurator, while its mobile ERP platform automates purchasing, production scheduling, manufacturing, and shipping. The result is “made to order” as seamless as ordering from Amazon.

The baseball cap industry’s mass relocation to China since the 1990’s, and Unionwear’s success in keeping manufacturing stateside throughout, was thoroughly explored earlier this month in the three part serial podcast documentary “American Icon” on iHeartRadio’s Red Pilled America podcast.

The Reshoring Award was presented at SEAMS’ annual conference in Savannah,GA on May 9, 2019. At the event, Contempora Fabrics won the Textile Reshoring Award and Mara Hoffman Designs won the Brand Reshoring Award. SEAMS members had reasons to celebrate, with domestic textile manufacturing showing strong, sustainable growth to $70 billion and over 100,000 jobs, numbers that will continue to climb due to the recent tariffs and the upcoming presidential election, when interest in “USA Made” traditionally peaks.

Podcast: The Fall and Rise of USA Cap Manufacturing

| Posted by unionwear

Red Pilled America took a deep dive into the history of the baseball cap, and used the story of offshoring ballcap production to tell the story of American apparel manufacturing.

Episode 24 focuses on Unionwear’s history. Founded as a fashion industry contractor, Unionwear was nearly shuttered when unintended consequences of trade deals resulted in most of the textile business moving to China in the mid 90’s.

Unionwear took a systematic approach to seek markets that would only buy American: starting with unions, moving to political campaigns, the US government and military, then other manufacturers and nonprofits, and now back as a fashion contractor.

Hosts Patrick Courrielche and Adryana Cortez intersperse Unionwear’s story with a fascinating analysis of the economic, regulatory, and systemic changes that resulted in American manufacturing losing its edge, and what it would take to regain it.

The podcast has started a kickstarter campaign to sell a Red-Pilled America cap, pictured above.

The podcast is broadcast by iHeartAmerica and is available on Apple Podcasts

Unionwear Wins NJBIZ “Excellence in Manufacturing” Award

| Posted by unionwear

Mitch Cahn, the President of Unionwear, and the Chairman of the Newark Workforce Development Board, has won the Raymond Hopp Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Manufacturing. The announcement was made official at National Manufacturing Day. The fifth annual event was held on Friday, October 7, 2016. This celebration aims to improve public perception of the manufacturing industry’s economic value and to expand knowledge of manufacturing careers.

The Excellence in Manufacturing Award was established in memory of the president of HK Metalcraft, Raymond Hopp. Mr. Hopp was extremely dedicated to the New Jersey manufacturing community’s workforce development and was considered a strong advocate for their cause.

This very special award has specific criteria that the ideal candidate must meet:

  • Demonstrate clear respect for cultural awareness and diversity
  • Show a willingness to explore and learn new technologies
  • Display passion for continuing education
  • Be active in associations that indirectly or directly support manufacturing
  • Understand networking’s importance
  • Be a forward-thinking, creative, innovative business person/entrepreneur
  • Show, through their treatment of employees, peers, and business associates, that they are a highly moral businessperson
  • Have been involved in the New Jersey manufacturing community for a minimum of 20 years.

Back in 1992, Mitch Cahn started the New Jersey Headwear Corporation, which would one day become Unionwear. He landed a contract with Ralph Lauren for ball caps and had 15 individuals doing all of the sewing. Now, with 175 employees, Mr. Cahn’s Unionwear is responsible for nationwide promotional gear used in political campaigns and much more. Additionally, he is a principal textile supplier to the federal and state governments, post office, homeland security, and the military.

As president of Unionwear, and in years before that, Mr. Cahn has been publicly recognized as a passionate individual who works relentlessly to do as much as possible within his platform and position. A recommendation specifically for this award credited Mitch with not only meeting but exceeding the challenging expectations and requirements to win the Raymond Hopp Award for Excellence.

Mr. Cahn’s commitment to fellow manufacturers and education is evident; he participates in numerous events and organizations, including but not limited to Grants and Incentive Programs for Urban Manufacturers; Cloud, Mobile, Manufacturing Technology on the Shop Floor; Designing for Manufacturing; Worker Rights Compliance in Procurement; Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing, marketing “Made in USA”; and more.

Numerous fellow entrepreneurs and friends celebrated Mr. Cahn’s achievement. Cohn Reznick (of Cohn Reznick LLP) offered an official pat on the back via Twitter: “Congratulations Mitch Cahn of [Unionwear USA] on receiving the Raymond Hopp Award for Excellence.” Cohn Reznick LLC is one of the top advisory, tax, and accounting firms in the United States.

Thanks to devoted entrepreneurs such as Mitch Cahn and his devotion to manufacturing high-quality products, consumers have a viable and laudable alternative to cheap imports.

Unionwear Wins NJBIZ “Excellence in Manufacturing” Award

| Posted by unionwear

Mitch Cahn, the President of Unionwear, and the Chairman of the Newark Workforce Development Board, has won the Raymond Hopp Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Manufacturing. The announcement was made official at National Manufacturing Day. The fifth annual event was held on Friday, October 7, 2016. This celebration aims to improve public perception of the manufacturing industry’s economic value and to expand knowledge of manufacturing careers.

The Excellence in Manufacturing Award was established in memory of the president of HK Metalcraft, Raymond Hopp. Mr. Hopp was extremely dedicated to the New Jersey manufacturing community’s workforce development and was considered a strong advocate for their cause.

This very special award has specific criteria that the ideal candidate must meet:

  • Demonstrate clear respect for cultural awareness and diversity
  • Show a willingness to explore and learn new technologies
  • Display passion for continuing education
  • Be active in associations that indirectly or directly support manufacturing
  • Understand networking’s importance
  • Be a forward-thinking, creative, innovative business person/entrepreneur
  • Show, through their treatment of employees, peers, and business associates, that they are a highly moral businessperson
  • Have been involved in the New Jersey manufacturing community for a minimum of 20 years.

Back in 1992, Mitch Cahn started the New Jersey Headwear Corporation, which would one day become Unionwear. He landed a contract with Ralph Lauren for ball caps and had 15 individuals doing all of the sewing. Now, with 175 employees, Mr. Cahn’s Unionwear is responsible for nationwide promotional gear used in political campaigns and much more. Additionally, he is a principal textile supplier to the federal and state governments, post office, homeland security, and the military.

As president of Unionwear, and in years before that, Mr. Cahn has been publicly recognized as a passionate individual who works relentlessly to do as much as possible within his platform and position. A recommendation specifically for this award credited Mitch with not only meeting but exceeding the challenging expectations and requirements to win the Raymond Hopp Award for Excellence.

Mr. Cahn’s commitment to fellow manufacturers and education is evident; he participates in numerous events and organizations, including but not limited to Grants and Incentive Programs for Urban Manufacturers; Cloud, Mobile, Manufacturing Technology on the Shop Floor; Designing for Manufacturing; Worker Rights Compliance in Procurement; Continuous Improvement and Lean Manufacturing, marketing “Made in USA”; and more.

Numerous fellow entrepreneurs and friends celebrated Mr. Cahn’s achievement. Cohn Reznick (of Cohn Reznick LLP) offered an official pat on the back via Twitter: “Congratulations Mitch Cahn of [Unionwear USA] on receiving the Raymond Hopp Award for Excellence.” Cohn Reznick LLC is one of the top advisory, tax, and accounting firms in the United States.

Thanks to devoted entrepreneurs such as Mitch Cahn and his devotion to manufacturing high-quality products, consumers have a viable and laudable alternative to cheap imports.

Unionwear CEO Keynotes Manufacturing Summit at Legendary Brewery

| Posted by unionwear

On October 12, 2017, at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Newark, Mitch Cahn, Unionwear’s own CEO and President was the  keynote speaker at the Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey (CIANJ) Manufacturing Summit.

The CIANJ summit concentrated primarily on enhancing the manufacturing sector of New Jersey. From energy needs and transportation to tax implications and environmental regulations, its purpose was to bring together environmental professionals, manufacturers, lawmakers, and other stakeholders. Why bring all of these people together in one room? To decide what needed to be done to grow New Jersey manufacturing, a candid discussion had to take place.

The hope of those organizing this event and holding it at Newark’s historic Anheuser-Busch Brewery, was that those attending would leave with a deeper comprehension of how our economy and manufacturing are related in the world today. Manufacturing is key—it’s critical. And to grow the sector, some things need to change.

As a speaker at this type of event, Unionwear CEO/President Mitch Cahn is considerably qualified. This individual started what would one day be Unionwear with humble beginnings and a mere 15 workers. Today, not only has he increased his union workforce to 175, but with their help, he has grown the company into one of the only headwear producers still manufacturing in the United States of America.

The man who started out making baseball caps for Barneys New York, Ralph Lauren, Izod, and Gant is now the primary manufacturer of much of today’s political campaign and promotional gear. So successful has Mr. Cahn become that he and his “Made in America” company recently purchased the assets of business accessory manufacturer DLX industries, retaining many of its personnel, as well.

At the manufacturing summit, Mr. Cahn spoke about the fact that business has never been better. There is a slight problem, however, that he imagines many other manufacturing plants are also experiencing: Business is outgrowing the supply of machine operators. It’s hard to keep up. But with a problem like this, he wonders, why are domestic manufacturers being depicted as victims in the national dialogue?

One such recent source of “national dialogue” was an article in the New York Times. The writer portrayed a grim picture of domestic manufacturing, discussing the assumption that owners of manufacturing plants hoped their kids would grow up to find some easier way to make a living! To add insult to injury, the article also strongly suggested that despite all the pronouncements, praises and promises by politicians, they were actually doing little to help the industry.

In this article, the owner of a well-known engineering and plastics firm painted a very “woe is me” picture. While Mr. Cahn agrees that domestic manufacturing isn’t the easiest way to make a living in today’s world, he also notes that many of the problems in the industry are in the hands of company owners, CEOs, presidents, etc. There is a solution to every problem. It is not always easy, and sometimes you have to work at it, but you cannot let the growth of your business be impeded by systemic factors. Thinking outside the box is the kind of ingenuity that allows us to invent products, produce them on a mass level, automate that production, and finally, outsell our competitors.

The planners who put this manufacturing summit together could not have chosen a better candidate to speak. His invigorating words of encouragement and support will undoubtedly boost the morale of those needing it and inspire those fighting the good fight to keep going.

Note: The entire keynote given by Mitch Cahn can be found by clicking here.

Leader Bag’s Domestic Manufacturing Challenges

| Posted by unionwear

How did Leader Bag Co come to be?

Leader Bag Co was born from a love of beautiful design, and the desire to create a family-centered product that is truly missing from the marketplace.

When Meghan Nesher was pregnant with her son, Julien, she went shopping for a diaper bag that would work for both she and her husband. Coming up empty-handed, she opted for a Brooklyn Industries messenger bag; great for function, not so much for fashion. After a few months of use, she switched to the Fjällräven backpack; stylish and more comfortable, but not super functional. It was around this time that Meghan and her sister-in-law Liz Elliott, also a new mom, had their lightbulb moment: Why isn’t there a diaper bag that is beautifully crafted, simply designed and practical for both mom and dad?

Leader Bag Co :: Baby Business

Meghan, Liz and third sister-in-law Jess Nesher formed and funded Leader Bag Co as a family business in 2013. Since inception, we’ve enlisted the help of technical designer and manufacturing guru Jay O’Neill to bring our idea to life, and the uber-talented Lotta Nieminen to create our brand aesthetic.

Your brand is still only a year old, but what’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

As a team of four, we all bring different strengths to the table, but at the same time, we all have strong opinions about pretty much every aspect of the business. We value playing to each other’s unique talents, but it’s not always easy with lots of cooks in the kitchen. We are constantly perfecting our team’s balance.

Manufacturing in the US – we were totally warned over and over that this was going to be difficult. All of us are perfectionists, and we’re all demanding, and I don’t think Unionwear knew we’d be so high-maintenance. Lucky for us, they have tons of pride in their work and are always striving to exceed expectations – which they did and continue to do.

Best thing you’ve learned?

Mistakes are opportunities, either to learn from or to create something new.

Your signature diaper backpack, the Julien, is a slick answer to a universal need; what kind of R&D did you pursue in the early stages?

Since we were all new moms, we did a lot of research for ourselves in the diaper bag market. We spent time looking at bags we didn’t like – even bought a few to compare. At the same time, we collected non-diaper bags we liked too, mostly based on modern aesthetics and strong craftsmanship.

We made lists of all the gear we stuffed into our baby bags and measured everything to make sure we designed the right size storage. We talked through where we would take the bag and what features we might need; for example, a hook to hang it in a bathroom stall while you change baby at a restaurant.

We collected tons of images on shared Pinterest boards – including inspiration for the brand, the bag and the lifestyle we wanted to promote.

Jay led us through multiple rounds of bag sketches – all different flavors and styles – until we settled on one we liked. He took the sketches to technical drawings, collected materials and had samples made. We went through at least three rounds of samples with Unionwear before we got our pack just right.

We put our samples on everyone’s backs, asked for feedback and took photos. We were careful to remove any design elements that seemed “girlie”, and made sure the shoulder straps were long enough to fit a really tall dad.

What features make the Julien awesome for carrying baby essentials?

The fact that it’s a backpack is key. We are all about leaving both hands free for tending to baby and being fully involved in family activities. Style-wise, the backpack is better for dad too – he’ll feel much more comfortable than if he were asked to carry a one-shoulder bag.

Ultimately, the Julien is awesome because of its storage and organization. We loved the idea of doing a drop-in “pouch” that can house some basics like a change mat, a few diapers, diaper cream and wipes. This way, you can just reach in and grab it for a quick change while you’re out.

We also made sure there were tons of compartments for all the essential gear. Outside, there are four decent-sized pockets for easy access, plus a clasp for hanging your keys. We also added stroller straps and hooks so you can easily hang it on your stroller when you don’t want to carry. Inside, there are four baby bottle (or water bottle) pockets, a sleeve for the change kit (or even a computer or iPad), a zipper pocket, and a few other larger pocket compartments. It’s wipe-clean and very utilitarian, but you wouldn’t necessarily know it from the outside.

When you’re running on no sleep and wearing the parental uniform of tracksuit pants and an old t-shirt, why is a luxe bag like the Julien important?

Being a parent isn’t always an elegant, effortless job. Especially when you’re a new parent running on empty and feeling overwhelmed.

The Julien immediately elevates your look: leather and canvas with rose gold details, all mixed with fine Made in the USA craftsmanship. And it’s effortless – it looks great with everything, is comfortable and keeps you organized so you can focus on what’s important: being present for your kid. There is absolutely nothing more chic.

Who else is making rad baby-related carry? Who inspires you to be better?

No one, in our opinion, is making a great diaper bag we’d want to carry! We do like Fawn and Cub’s change mat, and Ida Ising’s change mat/bag design.

Accessory and clothing companies outside of the diaper bag industry inspire us to be better, and companies that are producing their goods in the USA: Clare Vivier, Emerson Fry, Mansur Gavriel, Marine Layer, imogene + willie, etc.

What’s next for Leader?

There is a ton of room for us in the baby market right now. We see a lack of simple but beautiful and useful design, especially in kid accessories – which creates a whole lot of space for Leader to play.

What do you personally carry daily? And why?

Our Leader bags, of course!

Upstart: Makers Movement Panel Discusses “USA Made” Cost Myths

| Posted by unionwear

by Teresa Novellina for Upstart Business Journal

When Matthew Burnett, founder of Makers Row, launched his own watch line in 2007, he followed the advice he had always heard and went straight to Asia to get them manufactured, believing the costs would be less.

But because he was a new brand, and wasnít placing huge orders at once, he ran into problems that hurt his business.

“My largest order was the factory’s smallest order and I was always getting pushed to the back of the line,” Burnett recalled in a panel talk at Northside Festival Friday. That problem led to first a much-improved arrangement domestically (more expensive, but ultimately worth it), and eventually his New York City-based startup, Maker’s Row, an online network of U.S. factories that he launched in November 2012 and which connects designers with domestic factories.

His company tapped into a trend toward made-in-the USA brands, one that panelist Mitch Cahn of made in the USA manufacturer Unionwear says has little to do with patriotism but plenty to do with buying local, environmentalism, and a growing demand for better workers’ rights. His Newark, N.J.-based manufacturing firm, which supplies unions, government organizations and others with apparel and accessories, now has fashion designers calling.

“There are a few misconceptions about Made in the USA,” Cahn said. Among them: that the cost of raw materials is more expensive here. In fact, prices on imported textiles have been rising 25 percent a year for the past few years, and “we’re in the ballpark” on textile prices in the United States.

Meanwhile in China, labor costs are on the rise, and workers are demanding better conditions as well.

While labor costs remain higher here, one cost-saving strategy he has found that works is what he calls “lean manufacturing,” which he says makes sure that people involved in labor spend as much time as possible on activities that improve the quality of the final product, and represent an improvement “that your customer is willing to pay for.”

Jeff Sheldon, the founder of Ugmonk, is a graphic designer whose e-commerce company uses American suppliers. It’s pricier, but he saves in the long run. For instance, because the brand uses a screen printer domestically (for which they paid more), they’ve built a relationship that means when he has a rush order, Ugmonk gets pushed to the front of the line.

“I think itís really true that you get what you pay for,” Sheldon said. “I’ve learned that if you ask for cheap or the best quality you’re going to get one or the other.”

Source: http://upstart.bizjournals.com/entrepreneurs/great-mistake/2014/06/13/makers-movement-founders-talk-made-in-usa.html

TechTarget: How Tech Helps Domestic Textile Factory Compete Globally

| Posted by unionwear

American apparel manufacturer Unionwear is surviving the global marketplace thanks to its Rootstock cloud ERP system.

Apparel is increasingly an overseas business. Studies show that only about 5% of manufactured apparel is produced in the United States. Custom apparel and promotional product manufacturer Unionwear, based in Newark, New Jersey, is one such manufacturer that has sustained operations in the United States. While it employs approximately 120 unionized workers in a high-priced industrial corridor, Unionwear has been able to compete globally partly because it has embraced cloud ERP through its Rootstock software.

The company’s journey into the cloud has its roots in lean manufacturing. Mitch Cahn, Unionwear’s CEO, and his team knew that in order to succeed in a challenging environment, they needed to differentiate themselves from their competitors’ business practices. Lean manufacturing — the methodical approach to eliminating waste and reducing manufacturing costs — was the silver bullet the company needed.

As part of its continuous improvement, Unionwear was ready to adopt an ERP system designed for its manufacturing environment. After a search, the team found that Rootstock Corp.’s cloud ERP software was scalable enough to accommodate Unionwear’s operations and production needs, according to Cahn.

The cloud-based ERP approach afforded fast and easy implementations for the company, with no major IT infrastructure investment needed and a built-in ability to easily expand. This was the perfect fit for Unionwear’s long-term goals: increase customer satisfaction while maintaining a stable expenditure of resources for the manufacturing and production architecture.

A glimpse into the future reveals business apps in the cloud

While the Rootstock platform came with a wide variety of ready to use modules, Unionwear’s focus was on using its inventory management. The company’s primary raw material fabric and varied customer demands require that Unionwear use a multitude of colors and types of fabric, Cahn explained. It is not only critical to plan precisely the amount of material required for production, but to know exactly what is available for production at any given moment. The industry is, in general, a low-margin business. Any time spent looking for material or having extra material laying around that may never meet the needs of a future customer does not fulfill Unionwear’s mission of creating value.

Efficiency was also a critical component of Unionwear’s cloud strategy — specifically, efficiency in finished goods inventory. Unionwear only measures efficiency in the production of finished goods, meaning products that are ready to ship to — and bring value to — the customer. Any material and work in process does not equate to customer value, according to Cahn. With Rootstock, the company was able to calculate the efficiency of its manufacturing effort based on internally-developed standards that measure when the product is complete and ready to ship.

Unionwear’s future plans continue to explore the possibilities of cloud ERP and what it can do to make manufacturing leaner. For example, the company is considering using Rootstock’s reporting tools and utilities, as well as different cost accounting methods. The capability is there for the ERP system’s usefulness to grow as the company grows; as Cahn said, this is “a tremendous advantage and opportunity.” With its ERP in the cloud, Unionwear is poised to be a global competitor for years to
come.

Jim Romeo (www.JimRomeo.net) is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Virginia.

Follow SearchManufacturingERP on Twitter @ManufacturingTT

Source: http://searchmanufacturingerp.techtarget.com/feature/Unionwear-becomes-global-competitor-through-Rootstock-cloud-ERP

Unionwear’s Featured TedX Talk: Made Right Here

| Posted by unionwear

Unionwear President Mitch Cahn’s 15 Minute Ted Talk–Made Right Here: How the international worker rights and buy local movements are creating a surge in U.S. urban manufacturing opportunities.  The talk discusses why the premium for domestic goods are shrinking, and the five types of business to business to market segments with strong convictions about buying USA Made.

TRANSCRIPT

Manufacturing is booming in Newark and other American cities after decades of decline.

Newark, NJ has over 400 active factories within the city limits that employ over 10,000 people.  Four years ago nobody knew this, now a growing number of people know this.  How did this happen in the middle of a recession?  Well, as a manufacturer, I can’t say it was anything that our industry did.  I am pretty sure it wasn’t anything that our government did.  And I don’t think it was a wave of made in USA consumerism that pushed us over the edge.

What happened was over the last 20 years, goods have been made overseas in the third world very, very cheaply on the backs of exploitation of labor and exploitation of the environment.  The growth in manufacturing now is because both “overseas” and “exploitation” have become a lot more expensive and a lot less attractive.

Activists did this–labor activists did this, unions, worker rights coalitions and environmental and buy local activists made this happen.  They raised awareness, they localized supply chains and they helped to impose regulations creatively.  And as a result we’ve seen what’s going on in Newark right now.  “Made in USA” has relatively become a bargain.  Cities like Newark are reaping the benefits because we have an infrastructure in place still from the 70’s and before that, we have a lot of concentrated labor and we are in the center of a transit hub.  We have the ability to move people and goods around very quickly.  We are within a day’s drive for something like a third of the population.

What I want to do now is talk about my experiences running Unionwear, which is a manufacturer of baseball hats, bags like backpacks and garment bags, safety vessel scrubs.  We manufacture everything from scratch right here in North Newark.  We have about a 110 union workers, we are 11 miles from Midtown Manhattan.  We have been in business for 21 years.  In almost every product category of ours, we might be the most expensive place to make that product in the entire world.  So how is that over the last four or five years we’ve grown by about 25% per year after about a decade of being flat.

Well we’ve narrowed it down to five areas.  One is market forces, specifically understanding the market forces that are going on and being able to educate our clients about it.  How is Obama care going to affect domestic manufacturing?  How is immigration policy going to affect in manufacturing.  What if China decides to float their currency against the United States?  Is that going to make United States manufactured goods less expensive?  And more appealing to the rest of the world?  Yes.

We stay on top of these things and we make sure clients know about them because changes in the economy happen right under people’s noses and they don’t even see it.

Market selection is a big one.  There are markets that want to buy local.  There are markets that want to buy made in USA.  It’s more expensive to buy those things but they are willing to pay a premium.  Who are those people and how do we reach them?

Product selection is an area that goes along with market selection.  Now someone might not be in a market that wants to buy made in USA but they might want to be a product that might be less expensive to manufacture in United States, so what are those products?

Re-engineering is important because it’s very different to manufacture a product where there is no regulation and people are paid ten cents an hour versus where it is manufactured in an area where there is a lot of regulation and people make 10 to 15 dollars an hour.  You can bridge that gap through smart re-engineering.

Finally we take advantage of our geographic advantages.  We play up how close we are to New York City and Newark airport and port Newark and millions of skilled laborers.

So I am declaring right now the era of cheap imports is over. It’s dead.

So what’s happened as the price of imports increases is the premium paid for made in USA product shrinks.  As that premium shrinks it becomes less expensive for people to have sourcing standards or enforce standards that they already had.  So what happens and why the market is grown is there are a lot more people who are willing to pay 25% more for a product that’s made green, made in USA, made union, then they were in 2008 when it might have been 200% or 300% more expensive for that same thing.  And it is that a big of a difference.

So one reason for this is labor supply and demand.  China has had decades of a one child policy, and as a result there are a lot fewer people entering their workforce now and the people who are entering the workforce, they don’t want to make the iPhone, they want to work for Apple.  So there are not enough people working in these factories–when that happens you have to pay people more to get them to work in manufacturing.

As a result of people being paid more there is now a consumer class in China and in India and in Pakistan.  That’s driving up the costs of goods, its driving up the costs of gasoline, petroleum which is making goods more expensive to ship to United States.

I put a slide up of the iPhone factory because that’s an example of what has happened because of worker rights activists.  When all of the working violations at the Foxconn factory where over a million people are employed were discovered, labor activists came in and negotiated a 40% wage increase and they lowered the amount of hours they can work from a 100 hours a week to 60 hours a week.  They came in a year later and negotiated another 40% increase.  You imagine what it does when a million people make that much more money.  And have to work that fewer hours.  They have to scramble the find workers.  That’s why prices have been of imports have been going up so much.

And as a result of social media, the rest of the world’s workers are finding out what’s going on and realizing they don’t have to work this way.  So you are seeing the same sort of riots, protests, strikes in Bangladesh and Pakistan.  This has led to wage inflation of 25% to 30% a year.  The response overseas has been to cut corners– poison in pet food, poison in dog food, exploding tires, broken plane parts, that’s led to more regulation which has put more expense on products that come in from overseas.

Companies have moved their manufacturing to places that they thought were cheaper than China like Bangladesh.  But they didn’t have the infrastructure and ended up being more expensive.  You ended up with month after month, factory fires and factory collapses which led to more regulation and more expense.

So who is buying made in USA, now that their premium has shrunk?

There are five different ways that people can say “buy local” and these are the markets that we try to appeal to.  Buy American, people buy American for economic reasons, or if they have standards like the US government.  Or if they want consistent messaging, like General Motors who makes goods domestically and they want to buy American-made goods because they are selling made American.

People want to buy union and support their fellow union workers.

People want to buy fair labor, they don’t want to buy goods that were made in a sweatshop.

People want to buy eco-friendly and people want to buy local.

So one of the of the areas that wants to buy American is the US government which makes up about a quarter of our GDP.  This is something that is relatively new, this enforcement of the government buying American made goods.

Another area is trade justice and if you say the labels fair trade and sweat free and living wage on goods, those are all ways of saying that these goods were made by workers who are not exploited.

An example of someone who used to not buy products with these labels in is now is NPR.  They would give away tote bags for memberships at the same time they were doing stories about sweatshops in China but the tote bags were made in those sweatshops because they get them for 25 cents a piece.  Now it’s costing them $2.50 a piece to import.  They are going to spring for $3 a piece and buy something that is made in USA and it basically cost less for them to put their money where their mouth is.

The link between fair labor and local and eco-friendly is this:  The closer production is to consumption the less acceptable worker exploitation becomes.  You don’t want to buy a shirt from someone around the corner who you know as working for below minimum wage and maybe working a 100 hours a week, but its okay if it is around the world.

Also the more likely that goods are produced using your labor and environmental standards.  The factories are operating under the same laws that you benefit from.

Another area is product selection.  So two examples of products that are less expensive to make domestically would be products that are big and bulky to ship and don’t have a lot of labor like this gigantic case right here that we make.  That didn’t need to be made in USA but it is.

Or bags using expensive materials– this bag has $40 in leather in it but only maybe $8 in labor.  In China maybe you can get it made for $4, so at the end of the day its $48 verses $44.  By the time you ship it here and have the duties on it, its less expensive to make it in the United States.  That’s why you see a lot of goods with expensive materials made in countries that are more expensive than United States like Italy.

So another area is small batch customization.  There is a big overhead to making products overseas, you have to translate, you have to make tech packs.  It is expensive to ship sampling back and forth, there are time zone considerations, so as result nobody wants to make 500 or a 1000 of something in China or Bangladesh.  It’s a lot less expensive to make it here.

And finally re-engineering is the area where we are able to close the gap through product design.  When we get goods a lot of times now people are reshoring goods–they send goods to us and it was a bag that they had made in China, they want to get it made in United States and I’ll say if you want it made exactly this way, its going to cost you $80 because there is no thought given to engineering the products because labor was practically free over there.  We can redesign it so your clients won’t notice the difference that will be just as nice and we can do it for $15.

The other area is Lean Manufacturing and that is the concept where you can take people in a high wage environment and train them to use all of their time to just add value to the product and not waste time doing things that are not that the client doesn’t pay for, like looking for a pair of scissors or waiting for manager or walking from machine to machine.

So finally, Newark is a place that is perfect for manufacturing for a number of different reasons.  We’ve got a high concentration of skilled labor, we’ve got a well developed infrastructure of manufacturing.  There are lot of other manufactures here which means that there is a market for mechanics and trucks and things where that might not exist in an economy where there is not a lot of manufacturers.  We are close to the port, we got Newark airport here and we’ve got access to everything.  We have access to New York City we have access to capital, marketing, and technological expertise right here in the city of Newark through our academic communities.

There are other cities where this is happening.  There are not a lot of rural areas where this is happening.  So this is the time to take advantage of this once in a generation opportunity where people are coming to Newark to get things manufactured.  Thank you very much.

 

How Cloud ERP Helps Union Manufacturer Compete

| Posted by unionwear

Transcript:

Why Lean Manufacturing Needs Cloud ERP:

It’s about 10 years since we had our first lean implementation here. It wasn’t until last year that we were able to put the pieces together because we needed to wait for the software to hit the clouds.  Legacy systems are really too expensive and too clunky  for a company of this size to be able to implement a robust ERP and we wanted something with which we would be able to grow to four times our size.

We also want something that we can add on to if we want to do things like track production, raw material, and efficiency on the factory floor; not all of our production employees use computers but all of them use smartphones and with a cloud based system like Rootstock we can have apps put on to smart phones that our production employees can use to track production, to track receiving, track cutting, track efficiency and things of that nature in real time.  We can use that real time data for sales.  We can also use, we can also integrate our website with rootstock and populate our product line using materials and processes that we already have costed, have that information flow to the factory using API’s and other new technologies and have our MRP system purchase goods, have work travelers and work tickets and production planning done without having to use any indirect labor or admin staff.

How Cloud ERP Reduces costs:

One of the things we have been able to use Rootstock to do to save cost is to really get a handle on our raw material inventory.  We are able to make substitutions of raw materials in bills of material; so that if we are out of this swivel hook we can substitute a different swivel ,  take a look at what kind of inventory we have, recommends certain kinds of materials to our clients based on availability.

If sales people make recommendations of materials based on availability and cost and it will reduce waste and sting on operations tremendously.

In the future with ERP and the internet of things, we will be able to take orders online and use ecommerce and do many stages of our manufacturing using robotics, picking components and materials, using robotics to put them into bins, using apps to give workers instructions what to do with those bins and tracking production of them.

Kudlow: Unionwear Gets “USA Made” Gold Ring

| Posted by unionwear

Unionwear and New Balance were featured on the Kudlow Report’s Made in USA July 4th Special. Unionwear President Mitch Cahn talks about how lean manufacturing principles helps union shops compete with factories overseas and in Right to Work States.