Imagine being a manufacturer in the United States these past few years.
When the pandemic hits most of your employees can’t work remotely because so much of the work is hands-on. Staff and supply chain problems grind production to a crawl. As things start getting back to normal, inflation starts to bite. Then, just when it looks like inflation is getting under control, recession fears start to loom. How the heck are you supposed to make plans more than even one quarter out?
While the economic environment may be uncertain, it’s not like business is bad. According to the Industrial Production Index, manufacturing activity increased by 10.5% in April 2023, compared to April 2022. New orders for manufactured durable goods in April were up by $3.1 billion or 1.1 percent to $283.0 billion over March, according to the US Census Bureau.
Also, it looks like there are good things on the horizon. The federal CHIPS and Science Act means that anyone manufacturing anything to do with the production of semiconductors is in for a windfall. Likewise, the Inflation Reduction Act—also passed last year—means money in the pipeline for anyone manufacturing for infrastructure or clean energy projects.
Both those pieces of legislation are reinforcing an economic trend that’s been going on for several years: reshoring. Instead of moving production oversees, more and more US companies are deciding to return to US-based facilities. The war in Ukraine and macroeconomic trends in China (a rising middle class alongside a cooling overall economy) are acting to make reshoring more attractive.
So let’s take a look at a few American manufacturers. Every one of them has their own story of challenges overcome, of innovation, adaptation, and delivering quality to their customers.