Having spent the first four and a half decades of my life in the industrial Midwest, I have witnessed some wrenching changes over the past 20 years. The simple act of making things in the U.S. got much more difficult due to the lower costs of overseas competitors. Manufacturers looking to survive had to become much quicker on their feet, no longer able to count on a product having a profitable life cycle of 40 years. Fast forward to 2011 and an ability to quickly introduce new products and an incessant focus on productivity are the new requirements of the manufacturing game.
This shift renders manufacturing a desirable industry for any community.
Managers in manufacturing must have their eyes and ears tuned in to worldwide trends, not just to the other guy down the street. This global view stimulates an innovative environment with a constant infusion of new ideas back into the local community. Though manufacturing can be dirty and unglamorous, one of the major benefits of this trade is the legacy factor. Successful manufacturers often create an intricate family tree of suppliers and customers who directly prosper from their success. For those that succeed, the creation of wealth is the reward. And unlike many other businesses, the lucky owners of successful manufacturing operations make money around the clock, not just when the door is open.
Manufacturing gets into a community’s lifeblood and when that happens, much of that wealth stays in the community and gets spread to the arts, health, and human services. I applaud the Colorado Springs Regional Economic Development Corporation’s efforts to build a stronger foundation for manufacturing in our community.
**By way of disclaimer, which is something we are very good at in the banking industry, those aren’t actual arms in the photo accompanying this blog post. That’s an image from Truskin Gloves, a latex glove manufacturer in India, that carries the tagline “The hands we glove…Touch the lives you care.”