Made in USA

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

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!

Slate: What Do Bush and Clinton Have in Common? Unionwear

| Posted by unionwear

TRANSCRIPT: Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, John McCain, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Jeb Bush all have something in common: the White House, yes, but also, this baseball cap factory in Newark, NJ, and more specifically, this guy:

“What they do is incredibly dexterous, I can’t do once what they do all day, which is take that thread and just throw it through a little hole.”

In 1992 at the age of 25 Mitch Cahn quit his job on Wall Street and bought a bankrupt hat factory in Jersey City at an auction sale. The idea was to make baseball hats for the fashion market including brands like the Gap. It was a trend at the time, but there was a hiccup. By 1994, American manufacturing was fleeing to cheaper manufacturing overseas and undercutting Mitch’s prices.

Mitch needed a new plan, so he turned to groups with vested interests in manufacturing goods in the US, and at the top of that list was political campaigns which is where this story gets interesting.

Cue James Carville: “Bush is buying up to $10 million in printing in Brazil. The president don’t buy American for his campaign.”

Making campaign gear offshore created the potential for a political scandal.

Cahn: “We are making hats for almost all the candidates, we are doing work for Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Jeb Bush, If someone is having a hat made here, then they are making a decision to use American Labor.”

Campaigns aren’t the only clients who rely on Mitch’s US based factory.

There are socially complaint companies and non-profits who want to avoid any possible connotation that their products could be made in a sweat shop. The US Military. Promotional gear for labor unions and other companies looking to cobrand with the USA Made label. And the fashion industry.

But political campaigns are where Mitch has really dominated the market. Now located in Newark, his factory has been pumping out millions of hats from behind these doors, manufacturing for every Democratic primary candidate since 2000, as well as John McCain, George W. Bush, and Jeb Bush.

The bad optics of a made in China label aren’t the only thing driving political business to Mitch.

“The market is moving to small batch customization”, said Cahn. “Consumers are expecting to get products that they order in 2 or 3 weeks and you can’t wait 60 or 90 days for goods to come in on a ship. Your generally have to order a much larger quantity of goods when you bring things in from China, than you can domestically, and there is no way you can get things turned around a week or two.”

Which is key in the ever changing landscape of politics. Campaigns rarely have the luxury of folks ordering a set amount of products months in advance. They rely on quick turnarounds and flexible order sizes while replenishing their online stores. A bonus for the campaigns, especially those seeking much needed endorsement from a big union: Mitch also uses organized labor.

Once mostly the norm amongst textile manufacturers, Mitch’s pro union stance is a rarity these days, which is something he is proud of.

“Any difference in wages is made up of any increased productivity by our workers who are generally more content in their job. This was a union shop since the day we opened.
I believe over half of our people have been here for at least over 15 years.”

As manufacturing costs remain relatively flat in the US while rising dramatically in places like China, Mitch’s pro labor stance could become more prevalent. It is possible other manufacturers will follow Mitch’s lead and we’ll see more textile work come back to the USA. For now Mitch’s made in Newark factory is still producing the vast majority of the hats you see in the presidential campaign trail. But the most popular hat he has ever produced, you might have a guess if you have been tuned into the 2016 campaign season.

“Probably the hat we make the most here is the hat that says Make American Great Again which was made popular by Donald Trump and we are making that for the company selling the Made in USA version of that hat.”

Trump unsurprisingly uses a non union factory in California to produce the authentic version, but with all the polarization these days. It’s nice to know so many other politicians on both sides of the aisle can agree on thing. Newark is a great place to make hats.

Wanted in Global Markets: The “Made in USA” Label

| Posted by unionwear

When they came face to face with an angry broker whose business was threatened by their new website, Maker’s Row, Matthew Burnett and Tanya Menendez knew they were on to something.

“He came to our office and threatened to shut down the site because that was his livelihood,” Burnett said in the Brooklyn, New York, office of Maker’s Row, the site they believe is making it easier and cheaper for entrepreneurs get their products made in the U.S.

“It was a telling sign of the disruption that was going on in the industry,” Menendez said. She recalled the incident had left her looking both ways when leaving the office. “This is like a big guy, who comes in … huge presence. We felt really uncomfortable, but it was also really enlightening for us.”

Despite the decline in U.S. manufacturing, a “Made in the USA” label is still desirable in global markets.

It brings a certain assurance that products are made according to high production standards, using safe materials. Over the years, that label has also become synonymous with high labor costs. But the cost of foreign labor is on the rise, and it’s beginning to level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers.

Finding a domestic manufacturer, however, can be time consuming. Most brands don’t like to share manufacturing information because they don’t want to help their competition. “It was almost taboo to ask,” Burnett said.

Plus, many older manufacturers don’t have their own websites, which only compounds the domestic sourcing challenge.

One way to find a manufacturer is to get help from a broker, if you can find one. They aren’t always easy to track down. If you can afford the broker costs, you buy a list of manufacturers that might be able to make your product. It’s a system Burnett found troublesome.

“Some of these consultants were basically hoarding the information and charging $5,000. It’s impossible. Five to $10,000 for any small business?” Burnett said. “I would never pay that. I couldn’t pay it. I’m paying $10,000 for maybe my first run of products.”

Before starting Maker’s Row, Burnett founded two small businesses. He studied design in school and was lucky enough to design watches for Marc Jacobs and DKNY. It was a dream since his childhood in Detroit, where he saw his grandfather make watches.

In 2007, he began to market his own brand, Steel Cake. Using connections he’d developed through big designers, he had product made in China, which presented hurdles. Larger orders get priority, and it can take months for shipments to arrive in the U.S. So Burnett had to build inventory without knowing whether it would sell.

He also couldn’t afford to have staff on site to monitor the process for quality control. One costly mistake was enough to put him out of business, “There’s this manufacturing error that occurred in about $35,000 worth of lost merchandise. I couldn’t take it,” Burnett recalled. “It ended up being just too much of a gamble being so far away from my manufacturing facilities.”

So he got out of watches and began crafting leather goods, sourcing materials and manufacturing locally in New York City. His new brand, Brooklyn Bakery, began to take off, but the search for manufacturing help took months, diverting his attention from designing, marketing and selling goods.

Enter Menendez. She’s a marketer with experience at Google and Goldman Sachs. She not only helped Burnett find manufacturers, but also helped build a direct-to-consumer business, bringing Brooklyn Bakery to shopping sites and eventually building a consumer site of its own.

Together, Burnett and Menendez saw the power that local production brought to small business owners.

“We’d get the shipment back within a few days, and it was amazing. It was a very low-risk, very profitable type of business,” Menendez said.

Burnett said that managing the size of orders was the key to their success. “When I was producing domestically, I wasn’t producing a thousand of each product. I was producing a dozen of each product. That means that I’m able to test the market. See what works and press the pedal to the metal, when I see that something is moving.”

As they met with manufacturers and other entrepreneurs, especially the start-ups selling their wares on websites like Etsy and Shopify, Menendez and Burnett began to realize that the search for manufacturing help was a constant issue. So they decided to do something about it.

Maker’s Row went live in November of 2012. Within months, they learned it wasn’t just small businesses that needed help finding U.S. manufacturers. The problem was much bigger than that.

“Big brands are having this problem, too. We see that Wal-Mart is signing up. We see that Burberry is signing up. These are the kings of industry that we’re looking at here,” Burnett said. Big brands using Maker’s Row was a big surprise “because if anyone was to have this information, we thought that it would be the big brands.”

Supporting local manufacturers

The timing is certainly good for Maker’s Row.

There’s a lot of confidence among U.S. manufacturers these days. A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group revealed that 16 percent of the 252 U.S. manufacturers who responded are reshoring jobs from China, a 20 percent jump from a year ago, and more than double the number from February 2012.

Back then, Burnett and Menendez were just beginning to wonder how they could find enough manufacturers to make Maker’s Row a success. It was a tough sell at first, but they began to list manufacturers on the site for free, which turned out to be a smart move because some of them saw almost immediate results.

“People started to see leads before Maker’s Row asked them to sign up for their service,” according to Mitch Cahn, who runs Unionwear, a maker of baseball caps and bags in Newark, New Jersey. With leads in hand, it became much easier for Burnett and Menendez to sign up other manufacturers.

“We get several inquiries a day from Maker’s Row,” said Cahn, who bought a former baseball cap factory in nearby Jersey City in 1992, when, he said, there were about 400 baseball cap manufacturers in the United States. These days, he said, there are only about four but he believes the playing field for domestic manufacturers has leveled because the cost of labor overseas is climbing dramatically, making “Made in USA” more of a reality, than a lofty ambition. “There had been interest before but it was really a lot of talk,” he said. “Now that the price differential is so much smaller, people are saying, ‘Hmmm, I may spend another 20 percent to get a product ‘Made in the USA.’ Five years ago, it might have been another 100 percent.”

Local governments have gotten on board to help Maker’s Row, hoping to help their local manufacturers at the same time. They’ve had a large number of sign-ups in Los Angeles and Chicago, too. In about two years they’ve signed up approximately 5,000 manufacturers. A good thing, because there are also about 50,000 brands using the site to look for help. Subscriptions to Maker’s Row begin at $25 a month.

Shifting manufacturing

It’s a similar story at Genil Accessories in Brooklyn, where Gina Bihm and her staff make bow ties and neckties for the likes of Vineyard Vines and Marc Jacobs. Despite her big-name clients, Bihm says she also tries to help the little guy create a sample, if they can find her. “I don’t turn away no one. No one,” she said.

Bihm said the recession that began in 2007 nearly put her out of business. At the time she was shipping out about 20,000 pieces per year. In 2008 and 2009 work was hard to come by. Her entire staff, once numbering about 20 full-timers, was cut to zero. She needed a loan to pay the rent on her work space. She still has only 11 full-time employees, but she says business is better than ever. With bow ties back in vogue, they’re making about 4,000 units per week now, and that was before she found Maker’s Row. They’re practically around the corner from each other, but Bihm only signed onto Maker’s Row during the summer. “The phone calls doubled. I picked up about seven new customers and they all came from Maker’s Row,” Bihm said.

The 2-year-old website also works for entrepreneurs, including Andrew Kessler, Ari Klaristenfeld and Alexa Nigro, who began making their scarf product, called the “Scough,” with built-in carbon breathing filters, by hand in Brooklyn last winter. Within months they were having trouble keeping up with demand. They looked two months for a manufacturer before trying Maker’s Row. Two weeks later, they’d found MCM Enterprises, nearby in Brooklyn.

“We found that it was cheaper for us to manufacture here in the U.S. than it would be for us to produce in China or India,” Klaristenfeld said.

“We’re starting to send thousands and thousands of Scoughs to China which is this really interesting anomaly, where we’re making something in Brooklyn and, uh, it’s going to China because there’s brand, quality assurance that a lot of Chinese manufacturers can’t get,” Kessler said.

Those are the same reasons that Burnett believes Maker’s Row has seen some foreign businesses come online looking for U.S. manufacturing. “We’re looking to change the rule of thumb,” Burnett said. “We’re changing that mindset by showing people where they can produce and manufacture locally because this is a global shift right now.”

—By Andy Rothman.

Making Made in USA Easier: New Tools for Designers To Find Contractors

| Posted by unionwear

When they came face-to-face with an angry broker, whose business was threatened by their new website Maker’s Row, Matthew Burnett and Tanya Menendez knew they were on to something.

“He came to our office and threatened to shut down the site because that was his livelihood,” said Burnett in the Brooklyn, New York office of Maker’s Row, the site they believe is making easier and cheaper for entrepreneurs get their products made in the U.S.A

“It was a telling sign of the disruption that was going on in the industry,” adds Menendez. She recalled the incident had left her looking both ways, when leaving the office. “This is like a big guy, who comes in … huge presence. We felt really uncomfortable, but it was also really enlightening for us.”

Despite the decline in U.S. manufacturing, a “Made in the USA” label is still desirable in global markets.

It brings a certain assurance that products are made according to high production standards, using safe materials. Over the years, that label has also become synonymous with high labor costs. But the cost of foreign labor is on the rise, and it’s beginning to level the playing field for U.S. manufacturers.

Finding a domestic manufacturer, however, can be time consuming. Most brands don’t like to share manufacturing information because they don’t want to help their competition. “It was almost taboo to ask,” Burnett said.

Supporting local manufacturers

The timing is certainly good for Maker’s Row.

There’s a lot of confidence among U.S. manufacturers these days. A recent survey by the Boston Consulting Group revealed that 16 percent of the 252 U.S. manufacturers who responded are re-shoring jobs from China, a 20 percent jump from a year ago, and more than double the number that were doing so back in February 2012.

Back then, Burnett and Menendez were just beginning to wonder how they could find enough manufacturers to make Maker’s Row a success. It was a tough sell at first, but they began to list manufacturers on the site for free, which turned out to be a smart move because some of them saw almost immediate results.

“People started to see leads before Maker’s Row asked them to sign up for their service,” according to Mitch Cahn, who runs Unionwear, a maker of baseball caps and bags in Newark, New Jersey. With leads in hand, it became much easier for Burnett and Menendez to sign up other manufacturers.

“We get several inquiries a day from Maker’s Row,” says Cahn, who bought a former baseball cap factory in nearby Jersey City back in 1992, when he says there were about 400 baseball cap manufacturers in the United States. These days, he says there are only about four but he believes the playing field for domestic manufacturers has leveled because the cost of labor overseas is climbing dramatically, making “Made in USA” more of a reality, than a lofty ambition. “There had been interest before but it was really a lot of talk,” he says, “Now that the price differential is so much smaller people are saying, ‘Hmmm, I may spend another 20 percent to get a product ‘Made in the USA.’ Five years ago, it might have been another 100 percent.”

Local governments have gotten on board to help Maker’s Row, hoping to help their local manufacturers at the same time. They’ve had a large number of signups in Los Angeles and Chicago too. In about two years they’ve signed up approximately 5,000 manufacturers. A good thing, because there are also about 50,000 brands using the site to look for help. Subscriptions to Maker’s Row begin at $25 a month.

Shifting manufacturing

It’s a similar story at Genil Accessories in Brooklyn, where Gina Bihm and her staff make bow ties and neckties for the likes of Vineyard Vines and Marc Jacobs. Despite her big name clients, Bihm says she’ll also tries to help the little guy create samples, if they can find her, “I don’t turn away no one. No one,” she says.

Bihm said the recession which began in 2007 nearly put her out of business. At the time she was shipping out about 20,000 pieces per year. In 2008 and 2009 work was hard to come by. Her entire staff, once numbering about 20 full-timers, was cut to zero. She needed a loan to pay the rent on her work space. She still has only 11 full-time employees but she says business is better than ever. With bow ties back in vogue, they’re making about 4,000 units per week now.. and that was before she found Maker’s Row. They’re practically around the corner from each other but Bihm only signed onto Maker’s Row during the summer. “The phone calls doubled. I picked up about seven new customers and they all came from Maker’s Row,” Bihm said.

Those are the same reasons that Burnett believes Maker’s Row has seen some foreign businesses come on line looking for U.S. manufacturing. “we’re looking to change the rule of thumb,” Burnett said, “we’re changing that mindset by showing people where they can produce and manufacture locally because this is a global shift right now.”

MSNBC Gives Bag Designer “USA Made” Makeover at Unionwear

| Posted by unionwear

The MSNBC show Your Business helps Yadabags find domestic manufacturer Unionwear to produce their bags more cost effectively than China.

TRANSCRIPT

JJ Ramberg, Host: We first met Janet a year ago, at a conference for entrepreneurs in Nashville.

Janet Goodman: My business is YadaBags. YadaBags is a purse that’s designed to carry medical equipment for people with chronic disease, so people with diabetes can put all the paraphernalia in it and actually find it.

Host: She came to us to ask a question on camera about getting funding for her business. Once she felt she got the design right she hired someone to do a small but costly production run to see if people would actually buy the bag. After getting some sales, she was optimistic and ready to produce more. But when she looked into manufacturing in China which she thought would be cheap she found that she would have to make a thousand bags to get the right price. That put her in a chicken or egg situation.

Janet Goodman: I am not willing to risk retirement, if I didn’t get orders and I have to put money in to get product that I know is going to sell I would do that in a minute.

Host: With an order for a thousand bags unlikely at this point, we set out to find a solution for her chicken or egg problem by doing what she thought was impossible, finding a domestic small batch manufacturer that was cost effective. And we found just the people to help us out. Janet, I want to introduce to you Matthew and Tonya.

In front of Unionwear’s Newark Factory

Janet Goodman: Hi Matthew, hi Tonya.

Host: They are the founders of Maker’s Row.

Matthew: So Maker’s Row is an online market place and we connect businesses, small businesses and big businesses with American manufacturers to produce products here in the United States.

Host: Maker’s Row did a little homework for us, within introduction to Mitch Cahn the President of Unionwear. They helped us surprise Janet and Fred with the tour of the Newark, New Jersey based factory where the order minimum is 300 pieces. A much easier pill to swallow than a thousand units being made overseas. Mitch.

Mitch Cahn: Hi nice to meet you.

Janet Goodman: Hi nice to meet you also Mitch, this is quite a place you know.

Host: Let’s see your bag. Tell us how much it cost to make this one.

Janet Goodman: For putting it together was $60 and not including material. It was labor only.

Host: Okay.

Janet Goodman: Right, okay.

Host: That’s your bag.

Mitch Cahn: Okay here is our bag. (Produces redesigned bag)

Janet Goodman: Oh very nice.

Host: And the total cost to put it together?

Mitch Cahn: Around $47 and the material should cost no more than about $7 or $8.

Janet Goodman: Total?

Mitch Cahn: Yes.

Janet Goodman: Everything?

Mitch Cahn: Yes.

Janet Goodman: Oh I could love him.

Host: Would you like to give him a hug?

Janet Goodman: Totally.

Host: Mitch explained that the approach to manufacturing in China were labor inexpensive is less efficient than the way they tackle a bag like Janet’s here in America.

Mitch Cahn: We took almost about 60 steps in manufacturing the bag and that’s how we are able to lower the cost.

Host: With all of these resources at hand we gave Janet a challenge. Pull this all together to re-launch YadaBags by November. Just in time for American diabetes month.

Host: So this was a big day.

Janet Goodman: Oh wow, really big. I think it’s really moving in the direction that I envisioned.

Host: What did you learn?

Janet Goodman: Oh wow, I think the biggest piece for me if feeling like I have some support in developing that and somebody to think with as opposed to trying to figure all this up, all of this stuff out myself which I can’t do because I don’t know a lot of it.

Host: But by the way you have done an amazing job. With no manufacturing experience, no design experience and you created a bag.

Janet Goodman: I did, right I got there.

Host: You didn’t yet create a business.

Janet Goodman: Well, I should have got there, but didn’t get there.

Host: Right you got a bag business.

Janet Goodman: I got a bag.

 

USA Made Promotional Products: 3 Cheers for the Red, White and Blue

| Posted by unionwear

How to make the most of selling products made in the U.S.

By Brendan Menapace for Promo Marketing Magazine

There are plenty of products that were made in America that we should all be proud of—Bruce Springsteen, baseball, movies where Nicolas Cage navigates an elaborate scavenger hunt made up of national monuments to find a historic treasure. The list goes on, but what stands out the most are the many promotional products manufactured in the U.S., and the business opportunities they present. By providing products made domestically, distributors can create business with new clients. Here’s how.

OPEN NEW DOORS

Aside from providing jobs in the U.S., domestically-made products can give distributors the chance to work with clients that otherwise may not have been available. David Bronson, national accounts manager for Unionwear, Newark, N.J., said that many companies only will purchase products that are made in the U.S. He named nonprofit, government and military organizations as potential clients that [usually] purchase domestically. “More and more, large domestic manufacturers, food processors, tech companies, and other corporations that promote themselves as ‘Made in USA’ are requiring their logo gear to also be consistent with their domestic mission,” he advised. “Unions and political campaigns generally have domestic sourcing requirements, which will boom in the upcoming presidential primaries and general elections.”

Bronson, who has been a distributor for a decade, added that using items made in the U.S. makes sense from an economic standpoint. “Domestic manufacturing is beginning to make sense economically in a number of areas,” he noted. “In particular, small-batch customization allows buyers to save on overhead, such as sampling, tech packs, sourcing, prepayments and lead times, that can dwarf the unit costs of importing fewer than a thousand units.”

Tim Boyle, president of JournalBooks/Timeplanner Calendars, Charlotte, N.C., explained that buying domestic ensures the protection of U.S. labor and manufacturing laws. “The U.S. has much stricter laws and regulations regarding safety and compliance,” he said. “When distributors sell U.S.-made products, they do not have to worry as much about factories using child labor or unsafe materials.” He added that distributors should still evaluate a company’s code of conduct and compliance safety standards. “Compliance and safety are top concerns for end-users,” he said. “Although the standards for compliance are improving globally, it becomes much trickier for distributors once they go offshore.”

HANDLE INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION

Some distributors may be hesitant to choose domestic products over imports, as they say they can often get products from overseas at a cheaper price point. However, importing products can come with a high price tag that some distributors might not take into account. Factors such as duties, fees, shipping and port delays can throw a monkey wrench into the process and end up costing more than it than saves.

Bronson also explained that some clients would even be willing to pay more for domestic products. “Even when import pricing can still result in significant savings, there are many end-users who will still pay a premium to co-brand with the most powerful brand in the world—Made in USA,” he said.

Boyle he believes the global competition is a good thing for U.S. companies. “It’s hard to compete with importers on price, but not impossible,” he said. “We are constantly exploring new ways to increase manufacturing efficiency and decrease material costs, and we can often be competitive with import items, especially custom projects. Price is only one aspect of the equation.”

The best way to compete is to produce a better product. Bronson said that many imported items are made with cheaper materials and unnecessary labor, which creates an inferior product. “A common example is tote bags coming out of China that have a seam along the bottom,” he detailed. “This adds labor cost to the bag and also weakens the bag at its biggest stress point.” He explained that the sum is there because cutting large panels into smaller pieces provides a greater yield for the manufacturer.

“If a bag has $40 in materials in either China or the U.S., but it costs $4 to sew it in China vs. $8 in the U.S., the end difference will be $44 versus $48,” he continued. “And that $4 difference will be more than eaten up by shipping, fees and duties.” Bronson added that the gap between the price of imports and domestic products has decreased every year for the last six years, and he believes the trend will continue.

GIVE THEM WHAT THEY WANT

According to Consumer Reports, when given a choice between a U.S.-made product and an identical item sourced overseas, 78 percent of Americans prefer the American product. Boyle and Bronson are optimistic about the demand for domestic products.
Boyle said that he sees the demand for U.S.-made items himself. “My opinion is that the demand for U.S.-made products has never been stronger,” he said. JournalBooks, which has manufactured in Charlotte, N.C. since 1971, has taken steps to keep up with the increased demand. “We do whatever it takes to keep up with demand, whether it is adding the necessary equipment or adding members to our team. JournalBooks has a modern, 90,000-square-foot facility with plenty of extra capacity for additional growth.”
In Newark, N.J., Unionwear is having its best year to date. “The demand is higher than ever,” Bronson said. “It has been a challenge to continually increase capacity.”

He attributed much of the success to Unionwear’s ability to offer detailed customization. “Small batch customization is one area where improvements in order processing and set up times can have big payoffs,” he expressed. “We can make any of our bags in any color combination customers want at low quantities. This is what China does not offer the industry.”

Three Cheers for the Red, White and Blue

7 Reasons Why People Really Buy American Made Goods

| Posted by unionwear

Manufacturing is booming in Newark and other American cities after decades of decline. Newark has over 400 active factories that employ over 10,000 people. Cities like Newark are reaping the benefits because there is already an infrastructure in place from the 70s. With concentrated labor, the center of transit hubs, and proximity to ⅓ of the population, the City is a great place to manufacture goods.

American Manufacturing Is More Competitive

After 20 years, Maker’s Row preferred manufacturing partner Unionwear is finally competitive with imports again. Unionwear sold primarily to entities like the government and military because they required that products be “Made in the USA” and, at the time, there were really no other markets willing to pay a huge premium for goods.

The price of imported textiles has been growing at 25% per year for the last four years while the prices for domestic goods have remained flat. As the premium paid for Made in USA shrinks, more markets implement and enforce labor and sourcing standards, and the benefits of Made in USA increase in value. A lot more people will buy Made in USA when it is 25% more expensive than when it was 200% more expensive.

The 7 Reasons Why People Buy Made in USA:

Support American economy
Fair Labor & Product Quality Standards
Economics—small batch manufacturing
Buy Union
Buy Eco Friendly— consumers don’t want to be part of the problem
Locality
Convenience

Manufacturers have learned to localize supply chains from the food movement. The underlying motivations are different and more related to worker rights. The closer production is to consumption, the less acceptable worker exploitation becomes and the more likely goods are produced using labor and environmental standards that the consumer benefits from.

The international worker rights movement is an issue in manufacturing; Bangladeshi factory collapses, inadequate minimum wages, and deep-seated inequalities. Consumers want to know that they are not contributing to the problem–that the products they buy are made at factories that comply with America’s core labor standards. This is important for domestic manufacturing because what actually causes buyers to connect with “USA Made” are deep convictions about issues that support of domestic manufacturing can cure.

Along with localism and worker rights, environmentalism and the maker movement are also affecting the American manufacturing landscape. All four of these factors are much deeper convictions than patriotism. That sentiment is rooted in business-to-business markets since companies are sensitive to being judged on their commitment to everything, from helping rebuild our economy to the working conditions at their vendors’ factories. Putting a Made in USA label on your product enables a small business to co-brand with the most powerful ‘brand’ in the world—America!

The most exciting aspect of American manufacturing right now is the confluence of pricing being competitive, deep seated convictions driving sales, and cloud computing and ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) making small batch manufacturing a reality.

A special thanks to Unionwear’s Mitch Cahn. This post was inspired by Cahn’s TED talk and various other discussions on American manufacturing trends.

Source: https://makersrow.com/blog/2015/04/7-reasons-why-people-really-buy-american-made-goods/

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.

 

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.

 

CNBC: Made in USA on the Rise

| Posted by unionwear

Mitch Cahn is the owner and founder of Unionwear, an apparel and accessories maker—all exclusively made in the U.S. Despite years of panicked manufacturing headlines—Japan is making everything! No, It’s China!—Cahn has kept his business open for 21 years and counting, all on American soil.

The company’s first core customers were unions that wanted to support union wages and “Made in USA” goods. Then more recently, a new crop of customers began ringing Unionwear headquarters in Newark, N.J.

East Coast fashion designers—including those in NYC’s garment district—were shopping for U.S.-based contract manufacturers. With labor costs in China rising and that country’s own economy accelerating, small U.S. shop owners couldn’t get the attention of overseas manufacturers. In an ironic twist, they couldn’t afford a “Made in China” strategy.

“Now we have five to 10 callers a day about doing that kind of contract work. It’s a groundswell,” Cahn said. “And it’s not patriotism. It’s economics that’s prompting them to call us,” he said.

Cahn’s changing business points to the shifting global economy. With labor costs in China forecast to climb further, more small-business owners are benefiting from, or actively pursuing, domestic manufacturing rather than overseas options, sometimes called reshoring.

And small shop manufacturers aren’t just dusting off shuttered businesses, locked up after jobs moved to countries such as Japan in the 1970s. Young entrepreneurs are innovating from scratch, creating new online communities such as Maker’s Row—and even turning to emerging platforms such as crowdfunding—to bankroll U.S. manufacturing operations.

(Read MoreMade in the USA: More Consumers Buying American)

STRDEL | AFP | Getty Images
Bangladesh factory collapse

After Bangladesh

After the deadly collapse of a garment factory building in Bangladesh, more people have been asking questions about overseas-made apparel, often linked to sweatshops and unsafe working conditions. (Read MoreHow to Bring Ethics to Your Closet)

Some top European apparel labels includingH&M have signed a safety-standards pact. But other major U.S. companies including the Gap and Walmart are pursuing independent solutions. They haven’t signed the group safety accord, which binds retailers to improve safety at Bangladesh factories.

But searching for ethically-sourced goods in a global economy is tricky. And what percentage of a good’s raw materials and labor must originate from the U.S. to merit a “Made in the USA” label?

“Right now there’s no common, national definition for ‘Made in the USA,’ ” said Harold Sirkin, a senior partner at Boston Consulting Group.

Even if you wanted to make American-made products, sourcing domestic raw materials is challenging in part because most online manufacturing resources are Asia-focused. But one Brooklyn, N.Y.-based start-up is changing that trend.

(Read moreThe ‘Opportunity’ Entrepreneur Returns)

Source: Maker’s Row
The Maker’s Row team of Tanya Menendez, Matthew Burnett and Scott Weiner have created a website that connects designers with U.S. factories and suppliers.

Maker’s Row

Maker’s Row is an online matchmaker that connects designers with industry-specific factories and suppliers—all based in the U.S. Product designers and small businesses can join the website for free, while manufacturers pay $200 a month.

Maker’s Row founder Matthew Burnett is a designer and Detroit native. He relocated to New York City to work for major apparel labels, before launching his own watch line. His grandfather was a watchmaker so he’s been around small shop manufacturing all his life.

But manufacturing his designs overseas was a costly headache. Orders and tweaks, shipped abroad, took weeks to resolve. “You add import taxes and it becomes such a gamble manufacturing overseas as a small business,” Burnett said.

Maker’s Row was launched in 2012 and breaks down the manufacturing process for small- to medium-sized ventures. The site allows entrepreneurs, many first-timers, to plug into a U.S. supply chain including factories in all 50 states.

Participating businesses straddle apparel and accessories. “It’s harder to find a manufacturer in the U.S. than in China,” Burnett said. Maker’s Row plans to add other industries, and is wrapping up their seed round of funding.

The site includes about 10,000 small-business owners and roughly 1,800 manufacturers, including Cahn of Unionwear.

And a vibrant U.S. manufacturing sector means more domestic jobs. For a $1 million backpack order, for example, Cahn estimates he’s able to hire 35 to 40 New Jersey workers. Less than 10 percent of American jobs come from manufacturing.

(Read MoreUS Manufacturing Shrinks for First Time in Six Months)

Can Americans Afford ‘Made in the USA?’

Of course not everyone can afford American-made goods. U.S. consumer spending fell in April for the first time in almost a year, as personal income growth was flat. But attitudes are changing.

Earlier this year, Walmart announced it will boost sourcing of U.S. products. And more American and Chinese consumers are willing to pay a 10 percent to 60 percent premium for “Made in USA” goods, according to BCG research released last fall.

Meanwhile, a shift in manufacturing away from China will begin to take hold around 2015, according to BCG forecasts. Rising labor prices there will create a ripple effect.

Certain industries—in which labor is a lower percentage of total product costs—are more likely to pack up overseas for North America, including Mexico, where labor costs are stable. Product categories likely to reshore first include appliances and electronics, transportation, machinery, plastics, furniture and chemicals, BCG’s Sirkin said.

But as the global economy evolves and shakes out new winners and losers, consumers are connecting the dots between inexpensive, overseas goods and evaporating U.S. jobs.

The recession has been especially brutal on chronically out-of-work or underemployed Americans. Unemployment that counts the discouraged and underemployed, sometimes called the “real” jobless rate, is still above 10 percent in many states.

“People used to thumb their nose at manufacturing jobs,” said Unionwear’s Cahn. But when the recession gripped the U.S. and the manufacturing sector was among the first to stand up and create jobs, many gave the sector a another look.

“As a country we can’t all be servicing each other,” Cahn said. “You have to have manufacturing.”

BCNBC’s Heesun Wee; Follow her on Twitter @heesunwee

 

Unionwear in Wearables Fashion Sense Channel “USA Made” segment

| Posted by unionwear

The resurgence of domestic apparel manufacturing (including Unionwear) featured on the Wearables Fashion Sense Channel this month. All of these brands are available from your local promotional products professional, screen printer, or embroiderer.

4 USA Made Items That Cost Less Than Imports

| Posted by unionwear

With labor costs continuing to skyrocket in China, transportation costs trending upward, and importers piling on currency hedge premiums, a number of promotional items have become less expensive to produce domestically. Four places to look:

1. Products made out of expensive materials. Pricey leathers and performance fabrics make the difference in labor costs insignificant. This bag uses $40 worth of leather whether it’s made in China or New Jersey. If labor costs are $9 domestically and $3 overseas, the FOB price will be $49 vs. $43–and the shipping, duties, taxes, cost of capital and other import headaches will more than eat up the cost savings. That’s why so many leather bags are made in the USA or in places even more expensive, like Italy.

2. Bulky products that are expensive to ship. Look for hard cases, coolers, laptop bags, products that don’t ship flat or nest. We recently made a hard case that was three feet wide by two feet high–it was more cost effective for the client to buy domestically than to pay to ship mostly air around the world.

3. Products with unnecessary bells and whistles. When labor was almost free, the Chinese often engineered products to “make work”, and little has changed. Evolved US factories re-engineer, eliminating unnecessary labor from imported products and build dedicated, lean production lines to keep labor costs low in a high wage environment.

4. Small batch customization. Import unit pricing may still be cheaper on most items, but there is a large overhead with every transaction. Language differences require tech packs. Sample approval and product development cost a fortune. As a result, customization in small quantities is cost prohibitive. Not domestically: you can do all over prints, custom dye lots, custom patterns, and panel embroideries by the hundreds–not tens of thousands.

Corporate USA-Made Buying Sees Uptick

| Posted by unionwear

Another day, another study that 75% of Americans are willing to pay more for USA Made merchandise.

Corporate logo apparel magnifies this phenomenon since companies are sensitive to being judged on their commitment to everything from helping rebuild our economy to the working conditions at their vendors’ factories. Here are six situations where a company will pay a small premium to see Made in USA on a promotional product that features its logo:

Company Store Catalogs/Fulfillment Programs

Companies that charge employees for corporate logo gear at far more likely to offer Made in USA options because it’s a risk free way to test their employees’ willingness to shell out a couple bucks extra for USA Made, while showing their support for domestic manufacturing. These companies may continue to buy their giveaways overseas unless they are…

Domestic Manufacturers

USA manufacturers such as GM, GE, John Deere, and Harley Davidson are already aware of the rapidly shrinking premium paid for USA Made. Most push “Made in USA” in their marketing and want to avoid appearing hypocritical saving money by putting their logo on an overseas product.

Other Industries Identifying with USA Made

Companies that promote their commitment to adding value with US labor in industries such as food processing, bottling, construction, energy and even technology, graphic design, and web development buy USA promos for the same reasons as domestic manufacturers.

Regulated Utilities/Telecom with strong Unions

Public Utilities and cable and phone giants such as AT&T and Verizon have been at the forefront of buying USA made wearables for their workers, as a nod to both the gigantic unions who represent their field workers and the politicians who must approve the usage of public bandwidth, easements, and other resources.

Trade Justice, Green, and other Social Ventures

Corporations with Social Ventures departments and/or a strong stated commitment to the environment or workers rights will buy USA Made–or at least avoid associating with countries known for sweatshops and lax environmental regulation.

Companies with Clients Highly Sensitive to “USA Made”

Unions, federal and state governments, the military, and political campaigns take issue with anything not USA Made, so companies giving away merch at events that cater to these industries take pains to endorse “USA Made”. Examples are financial services companies that cater to unions, military contractors, and DOT vendors.

Sources:

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20130203/RETAIL_APPAREL/302039979

Inside, Outside U.S.A.

| Posted by unionwear

Inside, Outside U.S.A.: Presidents of American Apparel, Unionwear, Jensen discuss the economics behind the surge in domestic apparel production.