Thursday, March 8, 2012

Local Manufacturing with Global Success: American Leather is Ahead of the Curve

It’s becoming nearly impossible to go a day without hearing chatter about the lack of jobs in this country, but one thing we’re not hearing enough of is the resurgence of manufacturing in the United States. According to Hal Sirkin, a senior partner and managing director at the Boston Consulting Group, manufacturing in the United States is making a comeback.  As Sirkin states, America is becoming incredibly productive and using its resources very efficiently. “That's what's going to cause the change as we start to move from off shore in China to in-sourcing around the world,” he said.

American Leather - Dallas, Texas
But one company doesn’t have to make the shift from outsourcing to in-sourcing. American Leather furniture has always been manufacturing on U.S. soil, even when its competitors found cheaper labor and facilities overseas. “We built our brand on customization, style and service and are thrilled that more American companies have begun to see the importance – and financial benefits – of staying on home turf,” said Bob Duncan, American Leather co-founder and CEO.

Sirkin agrees, noting that manufacturing jobs in the U.S. have actually increased by 300,000 in the last two years. “It's now becoming more effective to produce in the U.S. than it is to produce in a lot of different countries. Between the shift in the dollar and the incredibly rapid rise in wages in China, people are starting to do this,” he said in an article penned by the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania. He added, “We have a system where our people want to work and they find ways to do this. We have a system in which our companies are forced to get more productive because it's do or die.”

One of the factors causing this shift is the rising cost of transportation of labor and goods overseas. It’s also important to note the difficulty to manufacture goods when you're 6,000 miles away from your customers and have to interact with people who don't speak your native language.

American Leather's factory operations
Since 1990, American Leather has been housed in a factory in Dallas. In just 30 days or less, American Leather is able to make customized furniture – in leather and fabric – which is a delivery standard three times faster than the industry average. From the beginning, the factory was set up to manage mass customization through the latest technology and manufacturing systems, making American Leather the most automated leather furniture manufacturer in North America, and possibly, the world.

Sirkin says the furniture business is an industry that could benefit the most from this manufacturing renaissance because of the amount of wood produced in the U.S.People are putting their money down, making some very important decisions and realizing that the U.S. has a very highly productive work force, a very flexible work force and the ability to be a very low-cost manufacturing platform for some very important industries,” he said.

And American Leather has been leading the march for more than 21 years! 

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