Bringing back 'Made in USA'

Updated: 2015-01-30 12:04

By Paul Welitzkin(China Daily USA)

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 Bringing back 'Made in USA'

Miller Manufacturing Co. considered suppliers in China for beekeeping supplies. Instead, the Minnesota company partnered with Kelley Beekeeping of Clarkson, Kentucky(above). After strong sales, Miller and its parent, Frandsen Corporation, purchased Kelley last year. Provided To China Daily

Many US-based manufacturers are finding that having an operation in China is no longer giving them what they used to get: low-cost products. And they are coming home in greater numbers, Paul Welitzkin reports from New York.

For 74 years, Miller Manufacturing Co in Eagan, Minnesota, has been a successful maker of farm, ranch and pet products distributed in the United States, Canada and overseas.

Like other US-based manufacturers, Miller CEO Dan Ferrise had suppliers in China; they made products like the company's "Chow Tower" automatic dog feeder. In 2013, after seeing a sharp increase in shipping and labor costs in China, Ferrise decided to have the dog feeders molded at a plant in Minnesota.

The dog feeder marked Ferrise's slowly turning away from China and back to the US. "We wanted to market beekeeping supplies and considered Chinese suppliers. Instead we partnered with a company in Kentucky," Ferrise said.

Pleased with the sales and quality of the products, Miller and its parent (Frandsen Corporation) purchased Kelly Beekeeping of Clarkson, Kentucky, last year."We wanted to secure our product source and now we employ 115 in our beekeeping supplies business," he said.

Ferrise is not alone in returning contract manufacturing to the US from China. After years of vacating the US for lower-cost China, manufacturers are reshoring - bringing production back to the US.

While not a tidal wave, reshoring is at the very least a discernible trend. Management consultant A.T. Kearney said in 2013 there were 210 reshoring cases and estimates about 300 for 2014. In 2010 there were 16.

"Even though there is no torrent of renewed manufacturing activity moving the needle just yet, it's clear that the reshoring movement is growing. At the very least, it should make US companies think twice about where they will manufacture their products in the next few years," Kearney said last year in a report entitled Solving the Reshoring Dilemma.

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