Made in USA Articles February 2014

2/26/14

A Made in USA Coalition. Thanks to You!

We have been working very hard to build a coalition for our Made in USA cause. Our nation and our way of life is at stake. No country or great power in history has survived the outsourcing of its manufacturing base. The troubles are too big to face with just one group or party. We have to come together and join arms if we are going to save our great nation! Our nation had that collective energy during WWII and briefly after 9/11. We need that energy of a free people to save the day today, too!

The good news is, thanks to you spreading the word, we have active folks and customers from every state and kind of background!

Recently, I had dinner with John Ratzenberger (picture above). You may know him from Cheers and voice roles in many Pixar movies, including Toy Story. However, his real passion is for all things made here and the people that get their hands dirty making it here! His show “John Ratzenberger’s Made in America” was on cable TV for three seasons. They are negotiating with a major network to re-launch the show! Nothing is certain, but I foresee us working together to help spread the Made in USA word!

John also just announced that he will be joining me to speak at the Made in American Expo May 16th through the 18th in Ft. Worth (http://madeinamericaexpo.org/). In addition to my speech, I will also be signing copies of my book and meeting folks face-to-face.

History will tell whether this moment was merely a road bump or an arc into decay and destruction for the United States of America. I don’t know the future, but I do know my nation and our people. There is fight in us yet!

We vote USA or some other nation with most purchases. We can’t be a great nation that makes nothing. We must have something real to do if we are to create real jobs. We literally create those jobs and keep that economic energy here at home when we vote with our dollars.

Please join me in voting Made in USA whenever possible!

Featured Supplier This Week: Ener-Gel Insoles

There are two major makers of high performance shoe insoles – Dr. Scholls is more famous, but 100% Made in China. Ener-Gel is perhaps a distant second in name recognition, but they make an awesome product and are 100% Made in USA! I know because I use them in my shoes! They have cool varieties for both men and women:

Link to Featured Supplier

New Items:

King Louie is our primary maker of smart, casual polo-style shirts for men and women. We have six new styles in a host of colors and sizes all the way to 5XL. Many have moisture management attributes to help the wearer stay looking sharp even in warm conditions.

With all the weather trouble this year, we have added a freeze-free hose by Armadillo Hose Products. It turns its heating function on when temperatures drop and off again when they warm. Perfect for settings where that hose must not fail when the temperatures drop.

We have added more Jacob Bromwell items. These are handcrafted copper kitchen, alcohol containers and other items. They are quite expensive, but are meant to be a work of art.

Anyone who has an in-ground sprinkler system knows those sprinkler heads get destroyed by mowers. The Sprinkler Buddy is a brand new startup with a product designed to protect sprinkler systems! This is much better than trying to fix even one broken sprinkler head.

The Wellness Wedge helps adjust mattresses to one of three heights without expensive automated system framing. The makers say it has the potential to improve comfort for those with many types of pain or health issues. Easy to use, helpful and Made in the USA!

2/19/14

It used to be that we could buy Made in USA products anywhere we went. Items were invented here and made here. Jobs were abundant in those days. There was actually a trade surplus up until 1970, and the budget deficit was a tiny fraction of today’s level.

Now, it is hard to find Made in USA products on retail shelves. Jobs are scarce and the trade and budget deficits are through the roof (the two deficits are intertwined).

Short-term greed caused this: greed for short-term profits, greed for higher revenue through planned obsolescence (intentional poor quality) and greed for lower production costs no matter the economic and environmental effects or cost to our nation.

The big retail chains even discriminate against our own makers by not even allowing a choice!

Our economy is hemorrhaging, but what can We the People do? Luckily, a lot more than the forces of short-term greed know or expect!

Americans of every creed and background are coming together into an awesome Made in USA team! We have had enough, and we are spreading the word and letting others know we don’t have to buy what they set in front of us!

Instead, we’re making stuff last longer and buying smart – creating real jobs here, while helping our economy, doing something real for the environment and so on!

The voices of the few have grown and spread and now number many tens of thousands with no end in sight!

Made in USA, USA! USA! USA!

Featured Supplier: Telegraph Hill Robes!

Telegraph Hill of San Francisco sells its robes to the highest end salons and resorts, and to us! They have two awesome styles that are made here using USA material. So soft and luxurious, plus great for layered comfort in cool or cold weather!

New Items:

Jacob Bromwell has been making kitchen and campfire tools since…(wait for it)…1819! Yes, 1819! James Monroe was President, Alabama joined the union, the SS Savannah became the first steamship to sail across the Atlantic (Savannah to London) and Jacob Bromwell started production. We have added more of their products. Check out their place in Americana, useful and decorative.

We have new companies, too! Surfmonkey Bags makes neat organizing bags and holsters for boating and hunting sportsmen. These bags are made of extremely durable fabric, with handy places for everything your special guy needs. Camouflage colors for the hunting models and fun colors for the boating models.

The T-Cane, handcrafted from solid maple wood in Minnesota, is designed to be much more than just a cane. Support for standing and sitting down is optimized in a product that is quite sturdy without being too heavy. It is ergonomic and beautiful!

The Shark Shade was designed to provide a sturdy shade structure that weighs only 20 pounds! Over 50 square feet of shade! It’s easy to set up and use, while being adjustable for needs at different times of the day. The combined American hardwood and aluminum frame maximize beauty and strength! Built in the USA to last many years.

2/12/14

The USA is Back: Stion Solar Panels

For all the talk in Washington a few years ago about green jobs, it was China that really took action. They subsidized the industry with tens of billions of dollars directly, via state-owned bank loans and other channels, in a colossal attempt to dominate the worldwide solar panel industry. However, what if they bet on the wrong technology?

Could all of those billions have been dumped into creating yesterday’s news? Their c-Si technology is terribly inefficient on a cloudy (or smog polluted Beijing) day. On a 50% cloudy day, those panels lose 98% of their ability to produce electricity. That means consumers and utilities cannot rely on them and must be ready at a moment’s notice to fire up coal, oil or nuclear electric plant alternatives. So here is the situation: China dominated an industry using old technology…until a brash USA start-up utterly changed the dynamic – Stion.

Stion, an American startup, has invented a new, thin-film method of building very efficient solar panels. The performance difference is astounding. Where the imported solar panels are utterly useless on 50% cloudy days, Stion’s panels still generate 50% electricity! This drastically increases the potential breadth and number of locations where solar power is useful!

Best of all from my perspective, Stion produces its panels only in California and Mississippi! They have assured me they will always be produced here in the USA. If you know anyone in the market for solar panels – Stion. Also, it is my understanding that they are looking for dealers. If anyone knows anyone who might be interested in working with them

Please forward this note.

Stion’s website: http://www.stion.com/

Their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StionSolar Sorry China, but that effort to dominant this industry is starting to look like a bad idea!

Featured Supplier This Week: Amana Woolen Mill Amana Woolen Mill has been making amazing blankets since 1857. They make wonderful quality throw blankets and others in Iowa. My wife often uses their throw blanket on the couch in the evening. She says it is warm and cozy. In fact, we are the only source for their “God Bless America” throw blanket shown at left. It is not available anywhere else.

New Items:

We have added four new items from Maple Landmark. They make wonderful wood toys in Vermont from strictly USA-grown hardwood. The new items include a Chess Set, Mancala Game Set, Dominos and a Colored Shape Sorter. I am particularly excited about the chess set as the quality is great for the price and each piece has the directions it can move right on the bottom of it for beginners. My five year old is literally playing chess with me and can double check how the pieces move instantly!

Speaking of wood toys, please see the sale below. We have added Critters Galore‘s There’s A Pig in My Pantry book by Donna C. McClanahan. This fun, colorful book is sure to encourage reading and love of learning!

We have also added three more of Liz Ball’s very fun, popular Hidden Picture Puzzle books! These books are not only a blast, they can keep kids learning and intellectually stimulated even on long drives, in waiting rooms and in other boredom danger zones.

Artesian View Natural Eyeglass Cleaner spray, proudly made in Idaho, is a great way to keep eyeglasses clean. It comes with a free cloth and travel bag. I have some for my glasses sitting just next to me now, and it sure works! No need to spray a lot. Even a tiny bit cleans my glasses right up.

2/5/14

Substandard Imports v. Made in USA

Working in Asia, I was appalled and haunted by what I learned.

Contract manufacturers in China were constantly underbidding the real cost of business in order to win international contracts. USA retail chain stores would look at such prices and soon accountants would be figuring out what they would “save”.

The Chinese contractors were motivated because they were government supported and could easily get loans from state controlled banks. Getting the business meant status, but soon the realities of production costs would become apparent. To try to drive their costs down, they push the work lower and lower. The subcontractors, and their subcontractors, have a few things in common: pollutants, very poor conditions and equally poor quality.

Meanwhile, the USA retailer’s buyers come and view a shiny factory in a city like Shenzhen, where conditions, if not pleasant, at least appear sterile (What are those suicide nets on the taller buildings?). They literally have no idea where the true production is occurring, but they check the boxes and move on.

The samples seemed perfect, and perhaps the first few shipments were OK, so the USA retailer starts ordering in massive bulk from the Chinese supplier, causing a USA supplier to close its doors. It does not seem to bother these retailers that their own customers are being fired as a direct result of their actions.

They cut and cut to get “low, low prices”. This changes other retailers’ price expectations, impacting the market as a whole. Soon, additional USA factories are driven out of business.

At this kind of volume, the Chinese manufacturer’s quality really suffers. They have little idea at which sub-subcontractor’s things are really failing.

Ironically, it plays into the big retail chain store’s hands, as they want “planned obsolesce” to get people back into the store again and again. If there is an issue big enough to get in the media, they acted appalled. Perhaps they cut the price again.

We don’t have to be a party to this downward spiral! Please join me in buying Made in USA whenever possible!

Featured Supplier: Oak Folding Tables

I bought table recently from Oak Folding Tables, and knew immediately I had to feature their products! They’re made from solid Pennsylvania Red Oak. I was very impressed with the quality and finish, particularly compared to the chintzy folding tables in the retail chain stores. These are not only beautiful, they are made to last a lifetime. Each is finished and stained by hand, by a true master! Great for around the house, where space is an issue, camping and many other uses! These are not cheap, but will be a purchase you are still happy about in twenty years!

New Items:

Bubba’s Carolina Jerky has added fun, new flavors! They use only 100% USA beef their popular jerky. Proudly Made in North Carolina!

Oak Folding Tables has added a folding stool! Weight up to 300 pounds is no problem! Made in Pennsylvania from 100% Pennsylvania Red Oak.

We have a new pillow from California Feather – The Supreme Endurium Down Alternative Pillow! This Made in USA pillow uses luxurious materials and extra stitching for a very nice night’s sleep! Hypoallergenic materials (no imported feathers). Made in California.

The EZ-DOH manual bread dough making machine helps make mixing bread a simple, easy process! Make delicious, nutritious bread at home again without the trouble. See their video here: link

Lend-A-Hand All Inclusive Universal Assist Device is amazingly helpful for both the physically challenged and able-bodied folks. Helps decrease strain while increasing leverage and strength for dozens of activities. See their video about it here: link

West Paw Design has been such a huge hit, we added another dog toy from them – Tizzi Dog Toy. An active dog toy that spirals through the air. You pooch will love it!

Girls’ Spring Bouquets Headband, Bobby Hair Pin and Hair Clip are the artisan-crafted and finished to be both fun and beautiful! Each comes in three colors with a free gift tag. The detail is truly a work of art!