Christmas, Made In America

I just returned from a stimulating visit to one of our few factories making Christmas decorations in the USA. This factory, located in a small town north of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a testament to American ingenuity and fortitude. They make a variety of outdoor lighted frames depicting the traditional Christmas figures, including The Nativity, Santas , Snowmen, Toy Soldiers, Nutcrackers, Reindeer, Elves, etc.

Well there is a lot of this product in the US market, mostly made in China, but also in Mexico. The imported product is lighter weight, less durable but cheaper and tempts  retailers who try a container load but rarely repeat their order the following year. In fact, some of this imported product ends up at the American factory for rework, so it can be finally sold.

Why is the American product better? At first glance, it doesn’t look to be made differently, with most of the fabrication and assembly work done by hand. If you look more closely at the US made product, you see heavier gauge steel and aluminum frames and accessories, you see separate clips and extra ties to attach the light sets to the frames and you see much closer spacing of lights in the set. What you don’t see is the incredible attention to detail, both in the planning of the process but also the control of the production and the raw material, semi finished and finished product. What you don’t see is the weekly “Quality Competition” where production colleagues check 55 separate quality items on randomly chosen product and only 100% perfect wins.

This is a family owned and managed company, currently touted by politicians and economists as “the backbone of American business”, When I visit and am so impressed by a 15 year old  company with, at peak, 20 employees, I am inclined, for once, to agree with the “experts”