Whether reshoring is a trend, a fad or will be enough to truly restore the roar to American manufacturing is yet to be seen.
However, Craig Wolfe has what he believes is a better idea.
Craig Wolfe is reshoring rubber ducks, through the company he formed in 1998, CelebriDucks. It really took off when he created the Allen Iverson rubber duck for the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since then, hundreds of celebrity rubber ducks have been created, each with its own plastic carrying case that features a quote to match the famous person who has been ducked.
One of his best sellers has been the President Barack Obama duck.
Not only is Craig bringing the production of rubber ducks back to the U.S., he is bringing the rubber ducky back to where it was invented, (as a Wolverine fan I hate to write this but I have to) the great state of Ohio. (Sorry Michigan fans).
The soft-rubber floating duck form was created in America. They were made in America. But, like so many of our manufacturing icons, we lost the rubber duck. “It’s sad,” said Craig. “This is an American art form, like jazz.”
When Craig started laying plans for bringing production of rubber ducks back to the U.S. he had to worry about things like the learning curve and the training cycle. Wait a minute. This is a rubber duck that floats in the bathtub. How hard can this be?
You would be surprised.
To begin with, they have to float. The resin has to be put into the body of the duck correctly. Just so much has to go in the top, just the right amount has to be placed in the bottom or the duck won’t float right.
You don’t want to send out a flotilla of tipsy ducks.
Then there are the thickness and molding issues. Most of the molds for the ducks weren’t made anywhere in the U.S. when Craig took on this challenge. “You know what? I am dealing with some of the biggest plastics factories left in the U.S.,” he said. “This rubber duck is probably the most challenging thing they have ever done.”
Not only have we lost manufacturing overseas, Craig believes we have lost many of the manufacturing skills we had ten, fifteen or twenty years ago.
If we haven’t lost them, we have not grown them.
He’s not sure we are ready for full-blown reshoring.
“It is like turning around the Titanic. You have set something in motion,” he explained. “Now everything, the infrastructure, and the skill sets, everything you had set up to do manufacturing in the past isn’t what it was.”
“You have to put that all back together, along with delivery times and working with the type of speed and urgency that people overseas have gotten used to, that really is many ways is missing here,” Craig said.
He isn’t doing this because he thinks he can make a profit, although Craig believes he will. It was not a question of price, or cost or delivery or bottom-line thinking.
Craig has a passion for bringing manufacturing back home. He believes offshoring is wrecking our economy and ruining the future for our kids. Craig thinks of it as a terrible nightmare and he is trying to wake up America.
Craig’s better idea is simply that this is the right thing to do.
Rod Kackley is a journalist and author who has written a five-part ebook essay series, Restore The Roar: Manufacturing Renaissance and Last Chance Mile: The Reinvention of an American Community, a book that tells the story of how the people of Grand Rapids are changing the way the world sees their community and the way they see the world.
For more information, please to go www.rodkackley.com
(C) 2013 Lyons Circle Publishing Inc.
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