Despite a workforce that has shrunk to 11.6 million people since peaking at 19.5 million in 1979, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, American workers are leaving their mark on a variety of everyday products. From the utensils we use to eat to what we wear on our feet and the games we play, domestic manufacturing is still a priority for plenty of American companies. FOX Business takes a look at the challenges and opportunities these companies face while promoting American manufacturing.
Incredible Technologies designs and manufactures coin-operated video games and casino gaming machines, including Golden Tee Golf and Magic Touch. Final assembly of their products is done onsite, while subassemblies are outsourced to local manufacturers.
Company co-founder, president and CEO Elaine Hodgson shares her story:
Q: How has domestic manufacturing influenced your organization?
Our purchasing and manufacturing staff works closely with our design engineers from product concept through production. This allows us to adapt to new technologies quickly and work though any problems with many points of view. Using local subassembly manufacturers allows us to keep a close eye on the quality of the final product and make corrections quickly, if necessary.
Q: What is one of the biggest challenges to growth as your company moves forward?
A: Our biggest challenges include designing new products and business models that create sufficient value for our customer so they will continue to buy. This has been made more difficult by the recession diminishing discretionary income that would be used to play our games. We are also facing increased costs from rising health insurance premiums, dealing with more government regulations and potentially a greater federal income tax.
Q: Where is there opportunity in the market for your products?
A: Besides growth in our established domestic markets, we see opportunity internationally. We have two sides to our business: coin-operated entertainment devices that are positioned for the adult out-of-home market, and slot machines that go into casinos. Most of our coin-op sales have been in the United States, but we have sold into Canada, the U.K., Australia and South Africa. On the casino side, we are targeting various US jurisdictions, but intend to explore Macau in the near future.
Q: What is the biggest challenge to maintaining manufacturing in America?
A: We need to stay competitive in price and quality. No one can blame a company for buying goods from foreign manufacturers if it has equal or better quality and costs less. It will be a long time until the standards of living and relative wages equalize in the world. America has to manufacture items at a discernibly higher quality that justifies the cost difference, or manufacture items that are unique, valuable and protected from copiers.
Q: What is your company doing to promote domestic manufacturing?
A: Our strategy has been to create unique games that are profitable for our customers to operate – and that are made in the USA. We use local US suppliers whenever we can. Unfortunately there are certain items like LCD monitors and many electronic components on our circuit boards that are no longer made in the United States.
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