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Staffing & Supply Chain Issues? The Time for American Manufacturing to Step Up is Now

american manufacturing needs to step up now

It’s rough right now but let’s not make excuses. American Manufacturing has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rise to the occasion. 

Manufacturing has been dealing with staffing challenges for over a decade. It was already getting harder to fill Manufacturing jobs in recent years, even before the current crazy job situation for the entire country.

Now, it’s even harder, especially for us smaller Manufacturers. The bigger guys have more opportunities to throw money at the problem. Signing bonuses and big pay rates at companies like Amazon are having ripple effects across all industries. The pressure is growing but complaining isn’t going to help.

Winston Churchill said we should “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Let’s make sure we respond to the challenge and use this crisis to get better … way better … now!

With rising inflation, a stack-up of container ships on both coasts, and global supply chain challenges piling up, this crisis is the perfect opportunity for American Manufacturing to respond. As a nation, we know we need to be more self-sufficient. In recent years, the prices for “low-cost” countries to make stuff has been rising. It’s continued to rise, but now delivery has become very uncertain.

America wants to “buy American,” but cheap products from overseas set a very low bar for pricing that was unreachable domestically. It wasn’t close and Americans voted with their pocketbooks … most bought the discounted items despite their country of origin.

With inflation, shipping, and rising global wages driving prices up, the price gap has narrowed, and the time is ripe for American Manufacturing to look to lead again. We practically gave up on trying to compete overseas and stopped driving improvements both inside our buildings and up & down our supply chains. We settled for competing with just our domestic counterparts instead of looking for the next-level gains we might have found if we set our vision higher.

The time is now. This time of crisis is the perfect opportunity.

America needs us Manufacturers to step up our games so we can “buy American” without sacrificing our wallets.

How are we going to do it? Here are three things to get us started:

1. No more excuses

Yes, it’s hard, but if it were easy, anyone could do it.  Complaining about our situation, or the advantage of bigger companies, or the lack of workers…none of it will help.  We need to acknowledge the fact that we played a part in creating this situation and take full responsibility for it

2. Identify reality

What people do we have, what materials do we have or know we can get, what feedback is coming from our customers…what do they want?  Even if it’s outrageous, let’s get clear on the target.

3. Leaders, let’s get to work with our Teams

Idea time.  Let’s stop thinking that we know everything and let’s engage our entire Team.  Once they know what’s at stake and the reality we’re facing, they can start solving many of the smaller challenges they see every day.  Try experimenting with their ideas.  Controlled experiments can help us find better ways without creating pressure to prevent failure.  Experiments aren’t all supposed to work…but they are all supposed to teach us something.

Our path forward won’t be easy. So what? It’s never been easy for us Manufacturers.  Let’s make it exciting, even as we do the hard work to improve.

Our Teams need it. Our country needs it. The time is now. The opportunity is here.

Let’s step up our game and lead American Manufacturing back into the fight.