The Global Marketplace

The word “import” no longer indicates a measurement of quality or durability.

The Global MarketplaceA long time ago I was taught that I could “learn a million dollars worth of lessons from a tough competitor.” The worldwide import community has proven this statement time and time again. Offshore manufacturers have taken our technology and applied that technology to products that are used in all facets of our lives. They have utilized our technology and created a product that is the equivalent of U.S. manufactured goods and manufactured that product at a lower cost.

Quality Craftsmanship
Quality products that are manufactured at a lower cost by offshore companies are a relatively new phenomena. Prior to shared technology becoming a standard operating procedure, offshore manufacturers struggled to stay level with advances in technology. An obvious example is the Japanese automobile industry. Immediately following World War II Japan began an era of rebuilding. Products manufactured in Japan were of poor quality. Japanese manufacturers studied their competition and took note of the quality craftsmanship that was standard. They were able to build on this knowledge, resulting in what are considered today to be some of the highest quality automobiles in the world.

That adage of “learning a million dollars worth of lessons from a tough competitor” has been taken to heart by still other countries. Other nations have learned from Japan and are now manufacturing quality products.

“American Made” in Mexico and Canada
Today, domestic manufacturers routinely take advantage of technology originating from various nations to produce bigger, better and more economical products. Even the saying “American Made” carries a disclaimer stating how many parts are made in other countries. The bottom line is simple: we live in a global economy. Most major U.S. companies manufacture their products or at least a part of their products overseas. These U.S. companies adhere to the same quality standards abroad as they have domestically. Taking advantage of lower labor rates, taxes, property values and increased incentives, products can be produced and shipped from offshore locations at a lower cost, without sacrificing the quality and integrity of the product.

The word “import” no longer indicates a measurement of quality or durability. A label indicating that the product is imported merely denotes the location of origin. As the worldwide market place shrinks, global sourcing of products will help America remain competitive. Our appetite for more and better products at a lower cost will continue to fuel the import market.

In my local community of Atlanta, a rail yard has been established to handle the growing number of imported goods shipped in containers. This new depot will handle shipping containers entering the United States from ports throughout the Southeastern U.S. According to Department of Transportation authorities, 66 containers of imported products move in and out of our local terminal each hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Goods are loaded onto trucks and transported throughout the U.S. Factories, stores and communities throughout the U.S. depend on those imported products. Many of the shipments consist of parts to be utilized in an “American Made” final product.

We can no longer hold to the old line that the only quality items made are manufactured in the United States. Personally, I have searched globally for many items that my company uses in modern welding applications. I’ve found that I can depend on import suppliers to provide me with the quality and competitive pricing I need to maintain an edge in our domestic and global economy.

Global Infrastructure
We all depend on a global economy today, more than we ever have in the past. While offshore manufacturers are responsible for the manufacturing of billions of dollars of product imported annually, they have also stimulated domestic employment. A tremendous infrastructure for the handling of imported goods is required. Many different manufacturers of containers and truck and rail transport are required to transport the product. Shipyards must be functioning and dock workers employed to handle the boats. Railroad personnel, along with truck drivers, are necessary to move the product throughout the U.S.

We are all already depending on the use of imported goods in some form or fashion in our everyday life. We use cars, stereos, computers, etc. and give little thought to their country of origin or where the products were assembled. The same is true for our industry. We routinely depend on tungsten, mild steel electrodes, stainless steel welding wire, welders, gas apparatus, consumables, etc., all of which may or may not be manufactured or assembled domestically.

The opinions stated here do not reflect those of the association, publisher or anyone other than the author.

Just as the import automotive industry has improved quality, service and pricing, the imported items used for welding have improved. The global marketplace has become our marketplace. Quality is still our number one mandate. Imported welding equipment has become a high-caliber alternative that will continue to keep America growing.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Barry Johnson Meet the Author
Barry Johnson is sales manager for Techniweld in Atlanta, Georgia.