Seth Perlman / AP
Harley-Davidson builds its motorcycles at four factories in the U.S.
Try taking your everyday shopping trip to your nearest department or grocery store and buy only American. A little difficult? Employment in America’s manufacturing sector has experienced a precipitous decline in recent years. The U.S. lost 33.1 percent of its manufacturing jobs between 2000-2010, according to the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation. Many of those jobs ended up going to countries such as China, India and Brazil that provide cheaper labor and have looser employment regulations.
But because costs of labor and energy are now on the rise overseas, manufacturing may be in the early stages of a rebound in the U.S. An April study by the Boston Consulting Group found that a third of manufacturers with revenue over $1 billion were considering moving jobs back to the United States. “At 58 cents an hour, bringing manufacturing back was impossible, but at $3 to $6 an hour, where wages are today in coastal China, all of a sudden the equation changes,” Harold L. Sirkin, a managing director at BCG told The New York Times.
While some companies are considering returning jobs to the U.S., some brands never went away. 24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of 10 highly visible American brands that are still made in the States. All of the products are well known to consumers. While most are market leaders, what makes them unique is that the competition manufactures their products abroad -- or they’re the only game in town.
Just because a company’s product made the list doesn’t mean that it hasn’t taken advantage of overseas labor. Companies such as 3M and Whirlpool both employ thousands of people outside of the U.S. But these companies still manufacture some products at home. Several companies on the list, like Oreck Corp. and Weber-Stephen, have products that are manufactured in the U.S., but not every piece used to make the product was made here.
These are 10 surprising products still made in America:
1. Intel chips
Parent company: Intel Corp.
Headquarters: Santa Clara, Calif.
Chipmaker Intel currently produces more than 75 percent of its microprocessors in the U.S., despite international purchases accounting for 75 percent of sales. The company is currently working on a state-of-the-art semiconductor production plant in Arizona, which is slated to open in 2013. The new plant is expected to cost approximately $5 billion and will employ thousands of American workers.
Maybe the competition is taking a hint from Intel. Rival Samsung, which is based in Seoul, began manufacturing A5 processors, critical components of the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S, in Austin, Texas, late last year. Although that new iPad you received for your birthday was still made overseas, it had a few American parts in it.
Parent company: World Kitchen, LLC
Headquarters: Rosemont, Ill.
Pyrex is one of the most widely-known makers of kitchen containers and bakeware found in 80 percent of American households. Corning Inc. started producing Pyrex in the U.S. in 1915. Though the brand changed owners in 1998, when it was sold to World Kitchen, production has never left the country. The tempered soda-lime glass products have been made in Charleroi, Pa. since the 1940s. About 2,500 people are employed in the United States for manufacturing and distributing.
3. Oreck XL
Parent company: Oreck Corporation
Headquarters: Duluth, Minn.
Oreck, one of the nation’s top vacuum makers and a staple among late-night infomercials, was founded by David Oreck in 1963. Though the company began by supplying products to the hospitality industry, the popularity of its products with hotel workers inspired later expansion to the consumer market. The company’s marquee vacuum, the Oreck XL, is manufactured in Cookeville, Tenn. Some of the world’s largest retailers such as Target and Costco sell store-specific versions of the XL. The company’s other vacuum, the Oreck Magnesium, is manufactured in China, but all XL vacuums are still manufactured at the Cooksville plant.
4. Post-it Notes
Parent company: 3M
Headquarters: St. Paul, Minn.
If you bought your Post-it note in the U.S., you can be sure it was made in the U.S. too. The product, invented by 3M employee Art Fry and hitting the market in 1977, has been manufactured in Cynthiana, Ky., since 1985. The company also manufacturers Scotch tape at the plant. Post-it is important to the town, employing roughly 500 residents who work at the plant. The company is green, too. Post-its are manufactured using recycled home and office paper.
5. Weber grills
Parent company: Weber-Stephen Products LLC
Headquarters: Palatine, Ill.
Weber grills have been made in the United States since 1952, when George Stephen built his kettle grill from a buoy at Weber Brothers Metal Works in Mount Prospect, Ill. All but one of latest models are still manufactured in Palatine, Ill. Because the company uses globally-sourced components it has been exposed to a class-action lawsuit over its claims that it was “Made in America.” Still, as of 2011, 98 percent of Weber’s workforce was located in the U.S. According to many grill reviews and grilling enthusiasts, it is the most popular grill of all time.
6. KitchenAid mixer
Parent company: Whirlpool Corp.
Headquarters: Benton Charter Township, Mich.
Appliance maker KitchenAid still makes many of its products in the U.S. -- notably, its highly popular mixer is made at a plant in Greenville, Ohio. This is despite large appliance makers having moved manufacturing mostly outside of the U.S. and into emerging markets such as China, India and Latin America. It is important to note that Whirlpool, the makers of KitchenAid, hasn’t exactly shunned the globalization trend. In October, the company announced plans to cut 5,000 jobs, many of those in North America. The cuts include a plant closing in Fort Smith, Ark. Still, the company hasn’t shown any signs of abandoning the manufacturing of the mixer in Ohio anytime soon.
7. Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
Parent company: Harley-Davidson, Inc.
Headquarters: Milwaukee, Wis.
Founded in 1903, Harley-Davidson is an iconic, cult-like American motorcycle company facing stiff foreign competition -- think Yamaha and Honda. But the American company actually builds its motorcycles here in the United States. The company has four major factories in the U.S. -- two in Wisconsin , one in Missouri and one in Pennsylvania. Many manufacturing executives point to the need to stay competitive when they move work overseas. But Harley-Davidson doesn’t seem to be suffering too much by making its products at home. Shares of the company are up 17 percent over the last year and the company holds about half the market share in the U.S.
8. Sub-Zero and Wolf
Parent company: Sub-Zero, Inc. and Wolf, Inc.
Headquarters: Madison, Wis.
Westye Bakke’s invented the world’s first free-standing freezer in the basement of his home in Madison, Wis., in 1943. Two years later, Bakke founded the Sub-Zero Freezer Company, which has maintained its prominence in the manufacturing of “premium built-in home” refrigerators for over 60 years. The company acquired Wolf, Inc., the world leader in professional cooking equipment, in 2000. Wolf now creates stoves and ovens for the “serious in-home cooks” in addition to appliances for restaurants and hotels. The company employs more than 1,000 Americans in plants in Madison, Wis., Phoenix, Ariz., and Richmond, Ky.
9. Spanx Products
Parent Company: Spanx by Sarah Blakely
Sarah Blakely’s revolutionary line of slimming footless pantyhose and undergarments were invented in 2000 in Atlanta. Most of the products are made in the U.S., according to the Spanx website, but some may be manufactured abroad. The company has a line of about 200 products, employs 125 people and manufactures about 36,000 items everyday. A Spanx representative told 24/7 Wall St. that Spanx’s best-selling “In-Power” hosiery line is still manufactured in the U.S.
10. Duraflame Fire Logs
Parent company: Duraflame Inc.
Headquarters: Stockton, Calif.
In 1968, when California Cedar Products Company was producing pencils, it found it could recycle the sawdust created in the wood manufacturing process by mixing it with petroleum wax to make fire logs. By 1986, Duraflame, Inc. became independently owned and operated, employing 250 Americans in its Stockton corporate office as well as California and Kentucky manufacturing facilities. Duraflame’s revenue exceeded $100 million annually as of 2007, and the company has expanded its production to charcoal, lighters, and more environmentally conscious logs.
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