Bringing jobs back to America: Rebuilding manufacturing through reshoring

David Lippert and Timothy Hutzel's keynote speech at the 2014 Assembly Show talked about reshoring and revitalizing the American manufacturing industry.


David Lippert (left) and Timothy Hutzel's (right) keynote speech at the 2014 Assembly Show talked about reshoring and revitalizing the American manufacturing industry. Courtesy: Anisa Samarxhiu, CFE MediaDavid Lippert, the President of Hamilton Caster, opened the 2014 Assembly Show keynote speech with an unconventional demonstration: He told the audience to look at their shoe to see where it was made. The audience answered that it was made in China, Bangladesh, or some other country in the Pacific Rim. This demonstration was used to drive home Lippert's point that while America is a country of consumers, it faces a lost opportunity because America exports much less than it imports. "We have become a country that has things made overseas and then sent back to us," he said.

In the 20th century, Lippert said, America had a sprawling manufacturing industry with companies such as Hershey's, La-Z-Boy, Whirlpool, Levi Strauss, and General Electric (GE) providing not jobs but also innovation to the manufacturing industry. In 1903, the Hershey plant was the largest manufacturing facility in the world and by 2003, more than 3,000 jobs were moved to Mexico. Other American brands followed that same trend: La-Z-Boy had moved their manufacturing sites to China and Mexico in 2001, by 2003 Levy Strauss had no plants in the U.S., and GE Appliance Park went from employing 23,000 people in the U.S. in 1974 to 1,863 by 2011.

Lippert mentioned additional repercussions to the great manufacturing migration. It resulted in less well-paying jobs available to Americans with studies showing that once a person lost their manufacturing job here, they were unlikely find another one that offered the same pay and benefits as their previous employer. Another major problem is the loss of skilled labor. Throughout the country, it is becoming increasingly difficult to get the younger generation interested in manufacturing. Lippert added that was because "parents encouraged their children to go into other professions such as medicine and law."

Co-presenter Timothy Hutzel, President of Tim Hutzel American Business Services, then came up to explain why this phenomenon occurred. "Companies moved their manufacturing overseas because the labor was cheaper. Presidents of companies were only getting partial answers about the process of manufacturing overseas. They didn't have a grasp on the concept of designing a product at home, having it built thousands of miles away, and everything that such a process would entail."

Hutzel then went on to talk about the hidden cost of offshore manufacturing. "When you can't see how the product is being made, you will run into quality problems such as someone getting dermatitis from someone handling a product made overseas."

Hutzel offered a three-step solution to help bring manufacturing jobs back to America:

  1. Analyze the cost of manufacturing. That includes the hidden costs and costs you can't put a price on.
  2. Decide whether you want to reshore or not. Hutzel pointed out that if a company has the manufacturing process at home, they can know how to fix it in ways that can't be done if the manufacturing is taking place overseas.
  3. American manufacturing plants have to embrace new technology. Technology is advancing rapidly and American manufacturers have to advance with it. 3D printing, automation, and CAD-CAM are just some of the ways that manufacturing technology is changing. 

- Anisa Samarxhiu, digital project manager, CFE Media,

See additional stories on the 2014 Assembly Show below.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Pipe fabrication and IIoT; 2017 Product of the Year finalists
The future of electrical safety; Four keys to RPM success; Picking the right weld fume option
A new approach to the Skills Gap; Community colleges may hold the key for manufacturing; 2017 Engineering Leaders Under 40
Control room technology innovation; Practical approaches to corrosion protection; Pipeline regulator revises quality programs
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Power system design for high-performance buildings; mitigating arc flash hazards
VFDs improving motion control applications; Powering automation and IIoT wirelessly; Connecting the dots
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
This digital report explains how plant engineers and subject matter experts (SME) need support for time series data and its many challenges.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me