“Made in China.” We’ve all seen those three words together, on everything from corkscrews to dishwashers, even in the American heartland. Even the staunchest and most patriotic Americans will use a Chinese-made fork or salt shaker at their local watering hole without even giving it a second thought. All while wearing the Chinese-made red-white-and-blue polo shirt on the 4th of July.
Above: our EDC Travel Sling is 100% made in USA from US materials at our facility in Sterling, VA...by robots built in China. This is part of our total effort to combat Chinese influence here in America: use the PRC against itself.
Why is so much made in China? Well, you probably already know the answer - the labor was and is cheaper than everywhere else. When China tried to do it themselves, the knock-offs were total junk. For half the price, you would get 10% the quality. But the labor was so tantalizingly cheap that American companies went in and took full advantage. Best practices from US manufacturing and training combined with nearly free Chinese labor meant huge profits and dominant market share for those who went.
Now educated in first-world manufacturing, the Chinese worker got better. Insanely high demand led to rapid improvement. Companies around the world invested in their Chinese factories and left their American factories behind. Workers from Chinese factories, armed with more skills and the latest in machines, started to churn out better knock-offs. Anything commoditized was made in China, with marketing and services done in the US to avoid the horrendous translations that were dead giveaways of a product’s origin. The American manual laborer or factory worker was left with little work, the victim of a minimum wage two to three times what their Chinese counterparts were getting paid.
Above: as part of our company-wide mission to remove support from the PRC in every way possible, we use the PRC's cheap labor to build manufacturing robots that we then use to employ Americans here in Sterling, VA.
But the story doesn’t end there. In the immortal words of Gordon Gecko, “Greed is good.” And it turns out humans, no matter where they live and how much their rights are being violated, are not the cheapest source of labor, especially as they become enlightened and live longer. Humans get tired. Humans get hurt. Humans have children. Humans get sick. But robots? Robots not so much. A little maintenance and they will run all day and all night, without a single HR complaint.
As time has gone on, the same companies investing in Chinese labor and equipment have improved that equipment. Repeatable tasks get automated more every day. Machines, it turns out, aren’t only cheaper than human labor, they are actually better at things that require precision. They are better at tedium - they don’t get bored. And so the Chinese worker has started to spend more time making Chinese robots, which eventually replace the Chinese worker. These robots are so efficient, they level the playing field for all who use them.
Above: we use Chinese robots to employ our fellow American citizens, leveraging the PRC labor cost advantage against itself.
Which brings us back to the USA. Absent Robot Pride rallies the next time a Roomba gets thrown in the trash (and here you thought 2020 was crazy...), robot rights are universal - the overhead is the same. Full circle...stay with me now...American workers were replaced by (cheaper) Chinese workers which are being replaced by (cheaper) robots. For robots, the labor laws and the pay are basically the same everywhere for manufacturing. The labor cost disparity has been eviscerated by the very people who brought it to you in the first place.
The playing field has been leveled. Now, manufacturing can be co-located with where innovation and design are taking place, with no fear of labor compliance police coming to call with aggressive lawsuits filed in 1s and 0s. It means companies can create a productive and free workplace where high quality products are made with repeatable precision and intellectual property is preserved.
We use machines made in China to employ workers in the USA and make products in the USA. It’s been a journey, but capitalism wins again.