Experts discuss manufacturing in America at Outdoor Retailers Winter Market

Published: Friday, Jan. 20 2012 12:31 a.m. MST

KEEN, a footwear company, has moved its manufacturing to Portland, Ore., from China.

Joey Ferguson, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Outdoor Industry Association presented "Can you make it in America?" during a seminar held Thursday afternoon at the Outdoor Retailers Winter Market.

Alex Boian, director of trade policy for the Outdoor Industry Association, acted as moderator during the panel discussion on manufacturing goods in the Western Hemisphere, including in the U.S.

Panelists included James Curleigh, the president and CEO of KEEN, Inc.; Rob DeMartini, president and CEO of New Balance; Kim Glas, deputy assistant secretary for Textiles and Apparel, International Trade Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce; Cass Johnson, president of the National Council of Textile Organizations, and Geoff O’Keeffe, vice president Supply Chain, American Recreation Products.

The White House issued a report last week titled "Investing in America: Building an Economy that Lasts."

Boian said in the past two years the United States has added 334,000 manufacturing jobs.

The report states that there is still a long way to go to make up for the two million manufacturing jobs lost in the recession.

Companies like KEEN, a footwear company, has moved its manufacturing to Portland, Ore., from China.

Other companies, like Ford, have plans to begin insourcing jobs in the United States from Asian countries.

Glas presented SelectUSA.gov, a site created to help economic and job growth. The site features a guide to help businesses located in the U.S. find programs and services available to them.

Johnson discussed a textile database — drcaftasourcing.com — created to help find manufacturers and distributors located in the western hemisphere, primarily Central America. The database is available online and expected to be complete by the end of this year.

Johnson said that Asian labor costs are going up: "By 2015 prices for labor for apparel in China will be equal to that of labor in Mexico."

The seminar pointed out that language, delivery time and shipments are less of an issue when products are manufactured in the western hemisphere.

DeMartini discussed the competitive advantage of making products in America.

"There is a subset of America, who will buy America because it is made in America," DeMartini said.

DeMartini said there are markets where being made in America is mandated or more valued. He said that New Balance allows customers to create a custom shoe online. The product is promised to be on the customer's doorstep in three days.

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