America’s Back on Track

I was talking with a client recently who was happy to relate how his company was doing. The firm makes brass and steel fluid handling hardware sold at big box retailers and through industrial distributors worldwide.

The company had six plants, three in the U.S. and three in China, but has closed one in China and is in the process of closing a second. The cost advantages of making product in China have eroded. The strength of the Yuan currency, quality challenges, supply chain interruptions, and the human cost of running people back and forth has caused them to pull manufacturing back to the U.S.

The one plant that they are continuing in China does casting work, which still makes sense because the environmental hurdles for such work in America are too bothersome and expensive to deal with.

The American plant my client runs produces about $100 million worth of product, much of it run on machines like Davenports and Acmes. He employs 150 people. He says it would take 1500 workers in China to turn out a comparable amount of turned products.


I know most people were sickened by the debt ceiling brouhaha in Washington, but I was mesmerized by it. The corralling of the budget deficit issues in America is worthy of the drama. Cutting government spending and deciding whose ox will be gored will be the big political issue of the next few years, and it is worth fighting about. I laughed and then grimaced at the rise of the Tea Party and its over-the-top rhetoric, but now I salute them. The Tea Partiers moved the country and showed what a determined minority can accomplish if it stays on message and adheres to discipline. The Washington establishment blinked over the weekend and real change happened.

We recently watched the “Arab Spring” begin to unfold, portending significant change in the Arab world. What just took place in D.C. may be the small beginning of Americans taking control of Government Gone Wild.


Another hopeful development coming out of Washington is a shift in the policy regarding immigrant entrepreneurs and immigrant “brains.”

The ugly anti-immigrant bias, which rippled though the Bush Administration after September 11 and continued into Obama’s Organized Labor homage, is now changing. According to an August 2 article in the Wall Street Journal Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for the Department of Homeland Security, is implementing several new initiatives to bring in foreign entrepreneurs, particularly in the high-tech sector.

In recent years, software entrepreneurs in particular have obtained their education here and then been forced to take their business startups elsewhere because they could not get a Green Card. Hopefully visas will now be easier to come by.

There is also a new initiative to allow foreign investors to get visas if they invest $500,000 in a new business that employs at least 10 people. At the time that Canada initiated a similar program in the late 1990’s people in Hong Kong were scared about their future under Beijing rule. A tremendous rush of money came into Vancouver, and Canada is still reaping the dividends of that opening. Look at the Canadian dollar versus the American currency now.

For the first time in a while I’m starting to feel optimistic that a broken government can be mended by the will of the people.

Question:  Do you think America is moving in the right direction?

Alejandro Mayorkas, Director of U.S. Citizenship and ImmigrationServices for the Department of Homeland Security

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6 thoughts on “America’s Back on Track

  1. Kimberly Pontius

    Lloyd, glad to hear that jobs are returning to the U.S. from China yet I was disturbed by “The one plant that they are continuing in China does casting work, which still makes sense because the environmental hurdles for such work in America are too bothersome and expensive to deal with.” comment.

    At what point do business owners understand that we live on a closed loop system and that the willingness to produce product and subsequently pollution on the other side of the planet for short term profit has a long term cost that we won’t be able to pay. I’m amazed that in this day and age business owners haven’t come to terms with the triple bottom line.

    I’m not what one would call a treehugger but I understand that monetary profit or regulatory inconvenience need not be viewed as a negative but rather an opportunity to invent new technologies and opportunities in a field that has chosen to tolerate waste streams. These waste streams would indicate that something is wasteful in their process.

    As any student of Lean or Six Sigma will tell you waste reduction/elimination is the best way to drive profits forward because pollution represents wasted resources and a pay me now or pay me later proposition.

    I don’t want tomorrows generations, regardless of their geographic location to foot the bill for my generations transgressions and profit driven motivations. We can all do better and I’d urge your client to rethink their business principles.

  2. Jeff

    NO, I don’t think they came even close to solving the debt problem in this country.
    If the USA was a private corp., they would be bankrupt!

  3. Robert Sarna Sr

    I wish I lived in that perfect world of Kimberly.
    On a more important note….. many jobs are coming back from China, I hope there are enough screw machines and personel left to run all the work. Yes, it takes years to become a screw machine expert but it does not take long to train someone to operate the machine and tend to checking the critical dimensions. That is if we don’t shut down for hours and days to teach lean or six sigma. Don’t get me wrong we are QS9100 but we did it slowley, our motavation was not to save the world but to save our bottom line from scrap or re-work.

  4. Buelldog

    According to USdebtclock, the national debt is currently about $14,569,000,000,000. This equates to roughly $45,500 dollars owed per person in this country. This includes every man, woman, and child. When you apply the amount of debt only to the people who are working & paying taxes, the amount jumps to a staggering $120,000 per taxpayer. Sure the math may not be perfectly accurate, but it isn’t too far off. We owe this money and we need to pay it back, but instead, we keep spending more than we have, adding to the deficit. How long can we continue to do this?

    America, and all the positive things she does for people everywhere, is in jeopardy because of this debt, and we keep spending more than we have. Is America heading in the right direction? No, I don’t think we are heading in the right direction; is there anyone who honestly believes we are?

  5. Jim

    “..laugh at the tea party”.. hmmmm, baby boomers are exiting the work force at an increasing rate, they are going from tax payers to tax takers, the mortgage program for the poor has darn near bankrupted the world, fiscal responsibility in our governments, are a joke. Seriously, really, you laughed at the tea party?


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