Proudly Made in America…Again!

No, not a sleek vase from the Martha Stewart collection. It's the sleek new Mac Pro, made in the USA.

No, not a sleek vase from the Martha Stewart collection. It’s the sleek new Mac Pro, made in the USA.

Back in the 1950s, an urban legend circulated in the United States that Japan renamed one of its cities Usa, so they could stamp items “Made in USA.”  At that time, Japan’s manufacturing was in trouble and the whole world looked to the United States for top quality products.

Of course, since then Japan has become known for high quality manufacturing—just ask any American automaker. Other Asian nations have followed suit and for many years “outsourcing” took manufacturing jobs overseas where quality was high and  wages were low.

However, these economic trends aren’t always one-way streets; sometimes they’re cul-de-sacs and traffic eventually begins to flow in the opposite direction. We’ve seen this with a distinct “Made in America” trend in recent years. Here are the basic reasons behind this reversal:

  • Quality of US goods is on par with the best manufacturers in the world,
  • Wages are evening out between Asia and the US,
  • Higher fuel prices have made shipping more expensive, and
  • Social responsibility pressures are causing some public relations problems.

Everyone from Apple Computer to Walmart to Martha Stewart are getting in on the “Made in America” movement. You can’t cobble together a much more unlikely trio than that, can you? In the long run, it will be good for small businesses. Let’s look at some specifics.

Apple Computer

Apple Computer has often found itself on the wrong side of news stories about the working conditions in China’s Foxconn plants, where iPhones are assembled. It balanced that out a little when it announced that it would build its most sophisticated computers, the Mac Pro, in Austin, Texas.

And while industry watchers were glad to see a high-tech assembly operation come back stateside, some Apple adherents weren’t happy to see iMacs on the Austin assembly line running Windows in a photo Apple CEO Tim Cook recently tweeted, but that’s another story…


Walmart is aiming to stock $50 billion more US-made products over the next decade. To get this drive off to a fast start, the mega-retailer held a “manufacturing summit” last year hoping to encourage suppliers to participate.

Of course, it was Walmart that in large part fueled much of the drive to source low-cost products in China in the first place. And while $50 billion over 10 years isn’t a major chunk of the company’s business, it may at least represent a new attitude or awareness.

Martha Stewart

Here’s where creative small business owners have an opportunity to really strut their stuff. This year the maven of American food, crafts, style, design and fashion will be holding her third “Martha Stewart American Made” competition.

You can nominate yourself or someone else in either of these four categories: Crafts, design, food, or style. A wide variety of products are included in each of these broad categories, so check out the website to see exactly how you might fit in.

Martha Stewart isn’t just handing out plaques and participant ribbons, she is also featuring great American Made products in her eBay Martha Stewart American Made store.

From our brief recap, you can see that everything from some of the highest powered personal computers at Apple to bottles of boutique BBQ sauces in the Martha Stewart store have a place in today’s “Made in America” movement.

Why not see how your business fits in?

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