There’s no better example of the recent trend of “Made in America” products than this year’s Ralph Lauren’s Olympics uniforms. But Ralph isn’t the only one leading the “Made in America” charge.


Photo Credit: Fortune

Walmart is also capitalizing on the trend. According to them, “Made in the USA” is a strong driver of purchase decisions that is second only to price.

And the research backs it up. Almost 8 in 10 American consumers say they would rather buy an American-made product than an imported one, according to Consumer Reports. Yet manufacturing jobs have been halved since the 1980s when manufacturing accounted for a quarter of all U.S. labor, according to Fortune.

Walmart is taking action. They recently hosted 450 business owners at their headquarters as part of their “Made in the USA” initiative to source an additional $250 billion in products made, assembled, or grown in the US by 2023.


They are investing in the American dream by creating one million new US jobs through this initiative – 250,000 direct manufacturing jobs and 750,000 in support and service sectors.

Out with the cost, in with the jobs.

We know that the primary driver to these decisions will be cost. It’s as simple as driving down costs to keep prices low for customers, and ultimately improving the standard of living in the cities that they have stores.

If manufacturers can drive unnecessary costs out of their processes, they can bring back the jobs.

Here’s one story of how employees saved the day by bringing back production of the swivel-headed owl from China to Knoxville.

In 2013, Walmart said it would buy more owls if Dalen could make them in the United States. Dalen could get a better deal for raw materials with Walmart’s contract, but the cost of US labor was still holding them back.

One Knoxville employee came up with a new tool to make it easier to mount the head, and others were able to speed up the attachment of eyes and beak (the only parts that still come from outside the U.S.)

As a result, Dalen now makes hundreds of thousands more owls with only a couple of additional employees and many Dalen staff now work year-round.

Companies need to disrupt their historical thinking to keep costs low and bring jobs back.

Here are 8 ways innovative strategies to help:

  1. Deliver quality the first time and every time to improve unnecessary costs
  2. Make Manufacturing Flexible to be able to “change on the fly” and reduce costly changeover times
  3. Use analytics to drive smarter machines and optimize uptime for manufacturing and the supply chain
  4. Predict machine failures with analytics to approach zero unscheduled downtime
  5. Bridge the skills gap with training to deal with an aging workforce
  6. Lower energy costs by implementing sustainability programs
  7. Strengthen security to safeguard against costly breaches
  8. Optimize the supply chain and logistics to speed time to market

The question is really about strategy and execution. Ask yourselves – are you playing offense or defense?

“Digital is the main reason that half of the Fortune 500 companies have disappeared since the year 2000.” – Pierre Nanterme, CEO of Accenture

Digital strategy in manufacturing is not only a good idea but is fundamentally required to future-proof companies.

The time for “wait and see” is over and the time “for let’s get it done” is now. This may be the first of many opportunities to help drive the manufacturing business back to the USA, and we cannot take this for granted.

As we head into 2017, I have never been more excited to see Cisco’s commitment to the Manufacturing Industry.  We are developing technologies and making acquisitions that are all aimed at helping to drive your digital journeys and successes.

We can help you take the next step:




Steve Gansen

Senior Business Development Manager

Manufacturing Industry, Americas