19482 Thu, 09/16/2010 - 12:42pm
Will the U.S. become a major textiles-producing nation again?
Even as recent as last year, this would have been inconceivable. American labor had priced itself out of the market for manufacturing just about anything ... and labor costs elsewhere, especially Asia, were a fraction of what we paid our workers. You could also get raw materials much cheaper in other ports of call. Margins for goods made in Asia were healthier even when customers paid rock-bottom prices.
But now Home Source International has contracted with a Florida-based manufacturer to make bedding, which will be seen at retail by spring of next year. Other manufacturers are launching products during market made in the U.S. of A.—and other manufacturers are thinking about returning some production here.
Why? Well, the plain truth is the while labor in Asia is still cheap, it isn’t as far off from U.S. labor costs as it used to be. China and India are paying their workers far more now than even a couple of years ago. With oil prices in the stratosphere and container companies reducing capacity, the greater expense of shipping goods 6,000 miles easily offsets the savings companies get on using cheaper labor.
Of course we will never again see the days of major textiles mills spewing out billions of dozens of sheets and towels. But as the Home Source move shows, the opportunities are opening up for small contract manufacturers here in the U.S. The day may yet come when “Made in America” has become the new norm for textiles.—David Gill