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Reshoring Initiative’s Harry Moser questions A.T. Kearney’s headline

The blog I wrote last week based on A.T. Kearney's 2014 Reshoring Index, the first in a series of studies looking objectively at the rate and pace of the return of manufacturing operations to the U.S. in an inaugural index, brought a response from Harry Moser, founder and President of the Reshoring Initiative. Moser raised some salient points.

Clare Goldsberry

December 23, 2014

3 Min Read
Reshoring Initiative’s Harry Moser questions A.T. Kearney’s headline

There are several reasons that reshoring cannot be measured exactly. One problem with getting good data (facts and the figures to back it up) to measure this phenomenon accurately is that reshoring is domestic production that substitutes for offshore production, Moser said.

Another problem with measuring reshoring is that the definition of "reshoring" is flexible. "For example," stated Moser, "Company A starts producing or buying in the U.S. products that fill a market segment that company B made or sourced offshore, that is reshoring. Company A hardly knows. Third, when a contract supplier, e.g. an injection molder supplies parts that had previously been sourced offshore, the U.S. supplier often does not know the history of the part."

So getting one's arms around this whole reshoring thing is quite a task, but Moser is certain that the Reshoring Initiative does "the best job" of tracking this phenomenon. The Reshoring Initiative records data from all published accounts and seeks direct submissions from companies who are reshoring or from sources such as molders or other manufacturers who are gaining work previously done in China.

For example, Lincoln Logs, part of the K'nex family of products from The Rodon Group, recently brought the manufacture of the iconic building toy back to the United States. Putting made in the USA on the toys will make the toys more attractive to buyers, and the company is even coming out with a 100th anniversary set of Lincoln Logs starting to sell in 2015 for the company's 2016 anniversary.

They always say that the true answer is somewhere in the middle when evaluating what's factual in conflicting reports. It's true that there is still work going offshore. And it amazes me that this is still happening. I recently sat in on a panel discussion that included the topic of the dangers of offshoring. One of the OEM panelists admitted there are still many problems particularly with intellectual property theft.

In fact, this OEM spokesman noted that while he was visiting the plant in China that makes this company's high-end industrial products, he actually witnessed workers removing the mold from the press, putting it on a truck and hauling it away after the first shift on a Friday evening. It turns out that the mold was being taken to another molding shop where a "pirate" molded these 'counterfeit' high-end industrial parts to sell to unsuspecting buyers.

When asked why this U.S. OEM didn't bring these molds to the U.S. where they wouldn't have to worry about IP theft, the answer wasn't surprising: it's still cheaper to make their products in China in spite of the IP theft.

Currently, it sounds like that it's still a horse race. Some companies bring their manufacturing back and some still take it offshore. Moser posed the question, however, that: "If reshoring is not doing so well, why would A.T. Kearney launch a reshoring index?"

Moser noted that A.T. Kearney's "data is accurate with regard to the number of cases, industries, reasons, etc., but off on their Reshoring Index. The title is misleading ('Reshoring Index Down 20 Basis Points Year-Over-Year from 2013: Uncovers what manufacturers are actually doing',) Moser noted. "It was chosen to get attention," he added. "They succeeded to the disadvantage of U.S. manufacturing. The recognition of the reshoring trend is a major factor driving companies to re-evaluate offshoring."

What can you do to help? If you'd like to help Harry Moser and the Reshoring Initiative get a handle on reshoring, you can send reshoring cases to Moser at [email protected] or write to me through PlasticsToday. Additionally, you can update the Reshoring Initiative's database of 1,800+ articles from which Moser extracts data, about your company by linking to The Reshoring Initiative Blog: MASTER LIST OF RESHORED COMPANIES.

"The best way to bring manufacturing back is for companies to see how and why many other companies are doing so," concluded Moser. "Readers can help U.S. manufacturing by reporting their cases."

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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