" WE NEED TO REEVALUATE OUR SUPPLY CHAIN AND PREPARE FOR THE INEVITABILITY OF A CRISIS."- DAN BROWN JR., PRESIDENT OF LOGGERHEAD TOOLS & CEO OF INSTASHIELD
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers faced shortages of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and PPE. Now we’re looking at the global scarcity of computer chips and fertilizer, coupled with the highest inflation seen in 40 years. These events have pointed a spotlight on the health of the U.S. manufacturing base – and it isn’t looking good. We have discovered that our current supply chain works only in the absence of a crisis.
Growing up with an inventor father who founded an American tool company, I know U.S. manufacturing is vital to the well-being of our nation. Unfortunately, many executives don’t even consider making their
products here because they assume overseas production is more cost effective. It’s time to consider the costs of over-reliance on other countries for our manufacturing. Here are a few ways the U.S. can take action:
First, we need to rebuild our current manufacturing base and make 100 percent of essential products in the U.S., such as pharmaceuticals, PPE, and components for our infrastructure. The COVID-19 pandemic
demonstrated that we are too reliant on China and other countries for essential goods, which could easily create a national security risk. It’s scary that 90 percent of pharmaceuticals manufactured today have at least one active ingredient not made in the U.S.
Next, we need to reevaluate our supply chain and prepare for the inevitability of a crisis. For example, “Just-in-Time” (JIT) supply chains are not reliable. While JIT reduces inventory costs, it can quickly put a kink in the supply chain. An example is our current car shortage, resulting from a scarcity of computer chips.
Similarly, relying heavily on imports leaves us vulnerable. When a country that exports goods runs low, it often stops exporting and starts hoarding. When its recipient is cut off from necessary supplies, rebuilding the infrastructure or growing these commodities can take years. In 2018, China produced 43 percent of the world’s PPE imports. The lack of domestic PPE production put our medical teams in peril during COVID-19.
Most importantly, we need to provide incentives for companies to bring their manufacturing facilities back to American soil. Our government can provide tax credits and tax cuts to encourage businesses to bring production back home, which will boost our economy with additional tax revenue, create jobs, and improve pay and working conditions. After all, the best social system is a good job.
Finally, we need to make it easier for consumers to buy American products. As a start, I have created a petition (wewantmadeinUSA. com) to request that Amazon add a “Made in USA” search filter so that consumers can easily find American-made products when searching on Amazon. Consumers will benefit because American manufacturing produces higher-quality products and uses processes that are better for the environment.
Current events prove the true cost of outsourcing essential products is much greater than any short-term savings. Outsourcing weakens our knowledge, expertise, and infrastructure for making necessities in the next crisis. Our leaders must prioritize rebuilding the U.S. manufacturing base, or we will be seeing many more empty shelves in the future.
Dan Brown Jr. is an advocate for U.S. manufacturing and patent reform. He is an entrepreneur and serves as president of LoggerHead Tools and CEO and owner of InstaShield, two Chicago-based companies that manufacture products in America.