U.S. Jobs Returning Home

There has been quite a bit of talk in the Media lately about Inshoring, and the candidates in the Presidential Debates are certainly quick to mention that this trend is increasing.  The basic principle is that more and more companies that had moved their business operations offshore to places like China and Mexico, for lower labor or more favorable economic conditions, are now coming back to the United States.

Historically the two terms, inshore and offshore, are related to the Fishing Industry.  The manufacturing industry has been greatly affected by the trend of offshoring both it’s operations and it’s workforce. We can look to the Fishing Industry to better understand what happened to our jobs in the manufacturing sector.

Time to Reel it in

For the fishing industry, there are six criteria that help to differentiate between the two terms and in a creative way, we will marry the two to present why we are seeing the resurgence of US jobs returning back home.

  1. Inshore fishing typically requires a small boat that remains within a few miles of shore and in times of trouble, such as engine failure, they can make it back to land in a timely manner. There are controls in place and with the use of quick reactions, trouble is averted.  For offshore, the boats tend to be bigger and operate much further away in waters that are thousands of feet deep.  When problems occur, it is much harder to fix the issue and it is often managed many miles away from home.  The smaller boats can represent the smaller businesses in the USA that cannot take advantage of Offshoring because of their scale and the cost of operating too far from home base.  On the other hand, many larger corporations were able to take advantage of the low labor rates in places like China, but still have to deal with issues such as culture and management from afar.  Many times it meant extensive travel by the U.S. management team to reach their overseas factories to review any issues firsthand.
  2. Weather is a constant concern of the fishing industry. Inshore fishing provides consistent fishing year-round, even with significant seasonal changes, while Offshore is trickier.  Weather and time of the year often dictates the type and quantity of fish.  The smaller manufacturing entities in the States tend to offer higher quality and better service.  The Offshore factories are huge in size and often the bigger the factory, the bigger the problems.  Use the latest Samsung battery fiasco as a good example of what happens when large scale manufacturing has a problem.
  3. The expense of Fuel and Suppliers can make or break a profitable season. To use a fishing example, it requires more ice to keep the fish fresh so that it arrives on shore as a quality product. Environmentalists are using carbon tracking as a selling point to lowering the carbon emissions.  There are software programs that give you the tools to meet your reporting and carbon management needs.  There is a cost with bringing in goods from afar, but there is also a price associated with the Carbon Footprint that is created by long delivery times, especially by shipping containers.   There is a growing trend to save money and our environment by shortening the carbon footprint.  There is also consideration for the time involved in getting goods from the factory to the customer.
  4. The type of Tackle used by the different fishing industries varies as well. The Inshore tackle tends to be light, and the offshore requires bigger equipment with heavier tackle and bait.  The Offshore companies are large in scale and tend to carry heavier inventories because they bring higher quantities of goods into the USA in the largest possible sea containers.
  5. Electronics used on fishing boats are vastly different when considering fishing locations. Close to shore (Inshore) boats still have to use tracking devices, but a ship to shore radio is a simple tool. If you are fishing offshore though, you will need radar, sonar, XM satellite radio and weather updates, etc. When a company is operating Offshore, the monitoring and tracking of daily activities and production is a key factor in whether.  Employee monitoring to track performance, protect trade secrets and to address other security concerns are a requirement.  Some call it an attack on privacy, but for Offshore factories it is of vital importance, whereas in the States it happens, but on a much smaller scale and in truth in many instances the co-workers make sure that everyone is pulling their fair share of the workload.
  6. The variety in size of the fish is dictated by their fishing grounds. Closer to shore you find today, the catch is smaller and the quantities are also lower than in years past.  High volume consumer electronics are almost always made offshore today, but high tech military electronics contracts are still awarded to local companies.  This in large part is due to the security concerns.   There is a strong sense that the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) industry is about to see a re-emergence and a resurgence in the USA, that is most anticipated because of the cars of the future that will be driver-less.  You will be able to read a book or newspaper on your way to work, while the electronics in the automobile will function as a human.  It will require many PCB’s to address the varied functions of a vehicle where no human intervention is necessary.  The auto industry who has lost ground to overseas manufacturers, even though many have US factories, are excited about the future potential.   The biggest impact if this happens is for the local companies who make PCB’s, wiring harnesses, mold plastic parts, decorate and laminate, and provide interiors and lights etc.  It is about bringing the jobs home and instead of reaping the harvest of the smaller fish, we will finally see an explosion in having a crack at the large fish.

American Made Matters

The idea for the fishing analogy came from the website  Home Run Fishing Charters and Lodges, a Louisiana based business. One of the company’s captains is Captain John Pisa, who learned to fish by his father, a famous bar owner in Baton Rouge, LA.   It is great to see the continuation of small business in America as we celebrate “National Manufacturing Day”.  Static Clean International has continued as a 3rd Generation Manufacturing Entity.  From humble beginnings in 1970, our company has not only survived, but thrived as a manufacturer and the future looks bright not only to the new generation of family members and the team that has steadied the course, but by the promises of Inshore actually taking hold.