Monday, April 14, 2008

Small Manufacturing Gaining Ground in the US!

I wanted to highlight an article I ran across today that has me spinning (no pun intended) Feisty Factories, in Fortune Small Business. Written in May 2007, almost a year ago, this article has the kind of message that we have been crowing about at Local Motors.

(Edge Specialty Blades CEO, courtesy Fortune Small Business, photo Nathaniel Welch-Redux)

To summarize:

-US Manufacturing employment has dropped over 20% in the last 10 years. While sales have grown by 20% in the last 5 years. Conclusion: Total productivity has increased dramatically in US manufacturing and a lot of it (read: most of it) is owed to small businesses. This relationship of small and successful can be inferred because 70% of all US manufacturers employ fewer than 20 people, AND the number of US manufacturing startups is up 67% over the last 5 years.

-Get productive and cede the commodity market to overseas players. Anything that can be made close to the customer and with a greater sensitivity to what he/she wants, can and does achieve a premium price.

-Quality in a small shop can be every bit as good as that in a large shop.

If this doesn't sound like Local Motors then you ain't been reading our stuff. We've written about Threadless, Cuusoo, Ponoko, Bonobos, and many small car companies, and now this is an article which sings the glory of small US manufacturing.

Are there pains of being small. NO DOUBT. But there are also joys, and the message is that if you celebrate the joys, they can outweigh the pain.