Does American-Made Window Film Matter?April 24th, 2013 by Editor
According to a Washington Post summit about America’s New Manufacturing Tuesday, the answer is yes.
Eric Spiegel, president and CEO of Siemens Corp., the current view and knowledge surrounding American-based manufacturing is to blame for lower manufacturing numbers.
“America has a training gap,” said Spiegel. “I know it’s more common to say we have a skills gap … but in truth it’s not a skills gap, it’s a training gap. Modern manufacturing has a branding problem. It has an image problem, especially with younger workers.
“[Manufacturing] is the most sophisticated and forward-looking business function today,” he added.
Following Germany’s apprenticeship model, Siemens is sponsoring 12 students who will be employed by Siemens after graduation. Spiegel said the training they will receive will adequately prepare them for roles in manufacturing positions the students previously had not considered until offered the opportunity.
Ron Bloom, former assistant to President Obama for manufacturing policy, followed Spiegel and discussed the political economy of manufacturing and the role he believes government should play in manufacturing.
Bloom said half of Americans polled believe China is the leader in the global market, noting the perception that China “makes everything.” He denied this misperception, however, saying that the U.S. is three times larger than its closest competitor, but needs to use innovation to overcome the misunderstanding.
Jeffrey Plummer, vice president of sales and marketing for St. Petersburg, Fla.-based Madico Window Films, agreed this notion isn’t true.
“Although there have been excellent innovations from around the world, including the development of infrared-blocking films from Japan, such as the Wincos® line from Lintec, for the most part, much of the world’s window films are still developed and made here,” he said. “Unlike other industries, for window film, the ‘Made in the USA’ label holds a strong value and implies a level of quality that is desired by many markets around the world.
“In addition, the United States is still the largest consumer of professional-grade window film, with roughly one-third of the world’s films sold here,” Plummer added. “Manufacturing our window film in the United States enables us to deliver not only quality products, but also good logistics and customer relations to our customers. We feel being located here provides us the opportunity to be on the forefront of U.S. market changes and allows us to be nimble and efficient in reacting to market demands.”
“Where you make something is related to where you think of something … If we lose the manufacturing, the innovation leaves with it,” said Bloom. “If we let our manufacturing go and the innovation goes with it, what’s our core competency anymore?”
For window film products, Bill Burke, president of MaXPro Films, located in Whitesville, N.C., said “Window film is an American-originated product … when you start talking about the final product, ‘Made in America’ has significant value … In this country, there are a number of qualified individuals who know how to make window film.
“The volume of experience in this collective industry is in this country and that helps to build a more consistent product,” he added.
As for the role of government Bloom said supplying a strong infrastructure for manufacturing to grow is a primary responsibility of the government, however, government is not responsible for actually manufacturing products or creating corporations. “Government has to worry about getting trade right. For manufacturing to work there has to be a system of rules … that is a complicated problem,” he said.
James Manyika, director of McKinsey Global Institute, added that transformation is currently underway for manufacturing. “The price-volume shift that is going to occur is pretty significant. Global competition is also intensifying … the U.S. is still on top. It is important to know how the nature of the competition is going to change over time,” Manyika said.
“Many of these competitors are in countries that themselves are driving demand … the innovation flows here are no longer just going to be one way … Good news that I think bodes well for the U.S. is the huge amount of innovation,” said Manyika.
Plummer said American-manufactured products are important and remain a strong part of the industry.
“Madico Window Films has a long history of U.S.-based manufacturing and has been producing quality window films at both of our American factories for over 40 years,” he said. “We are committed to producing a full range of the highest-quality products possible and remain intent on supplying the world market with our ‘Made in America’ window films.”