I gave a talk last week on manufacturing in Maine and the U.S., and what opportunities and challenges we have today. I firmly believe manufacturing is alive and well in the U.S., and it certainly is in North Berwick Maine, home to our company Hussey Seating - and oh, by the way, also home to 1600 employees at a big Pratt and Whitney factory. What do we have going for us? Commitment, loyalty, work ethic, decent education, a desire to continuously improve, investments in technology, and a spirit of innovation. We cannot really compete on the low-skill jobs any more, but the world of manufacturing is moving to automation, technology, and innovation. We can thrive, and in fact we have increased output in our factory in the last couple years; and the U.S. factory output continues to grow, though employment is not growing. That's called productivity, and is a good thing! Manufacturing has a big multiplier impact on the economy; for every dollar invested, there is close to $1.50 that spins off to other parts of the economy. Without productivity gains, we are toast!
I shared an old African fable that is applicable for those of us in manufacturing today:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.
We are here running as fast as we can - and doing okay at it!