I opened the local newspaper Saturday to read an unfortunate piece of news. A local company is shutting its original manufacturing site and shipping production to Mexico. The company, Holloway, manufacturer of sporting apparal, jackets and the like, first sought to reduce (already low) labor costs by starting four plants in the deep South in the 70s and 80s. All those have been closed and jobs shipped to Mexico. Now it has done the same thing in Shelby County, Ohio.

This is just another symptom of business managers who don’t know or care how to make their products and trying to drive down one item on its cost of goods sold.

The local newspaper fumbled the ball by simply printing the press release. It didn’t send a reporter off to corporate headquarters (a mighty one mile down Vandemark Road) to ask management why, what they’ve done to save the jobs, why they are pushing responsibility for the newly unemployed workers to “government assistance,” and many more questions.

Some manufacturing leaders around the country are figuring out how to make money with manufacturing, saving good jobs. Others can’t figure it out making what seems to be easy decisions to farm out manufacturing.  However, outsourcing manufacturing simply chasing cheap labor costs add to other costs. Inventory, supply chain management, quality and more suffer with decisions such as this.

Sidney and Shelby County have been built on manufacturing. The famous Monarch Lathes were made here. As were Copeland compressors (now Emerson Climate Technologies). I was shocked to learn recently that manufacturing employment at Emerson in Sidney is about 10-15 percent of what it was in the 80s. We’re hit by the decline in automotive production–although Honda seems to be doing well. So, every job lost is a problem.

Check, for example, this blog post from a group of people who practice Lean Manufacturing about the opportunity a company took when Brunswick decided to move bowling ball manufacturing to Mexico. The subsequent quality decline opened the door for another company to step in. View the post and video here.

We just had a very contentious, hate-filled series of tax levy elections in Sidney to fund our schools. In Ohio, the state funds about 40 percent of total budget of local school districts. The remainder is to come from locally raised revenues principally from property tax, although there is an option for an income tax. The state has, over the years, passed laws that prohibit natural growth in revenues from property taxes and has also reduced taxes on business property. So Ohio’s schools are in a perpetual fiscal bind.

During our long process of going through three defeats before passing the last election by one vote no one addressed the dire need of our society to educate more engineers and scientists. For want of one or two engineering-trained people working at Holloway who could manufacture efficiently and profitably, management just ships the jobs away.

Don’t let this happen in your community. I’ll raise my voice in mine to get us back on the manufacturing track.

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