Posts Tagged ‘Demand Side’

First Choice…

Written by mitch. Posted in Aftermarket, Blog, Repair Community, Uncategorized

First Choice… Made in America!

If you go online and poke around a bit, you’ll find what undeniably appears to be a growing interest in buying American manufactured goods. It’s all over the web and now it’s even being featured on network television with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and David Muir championing the cause.

This started before I posted my first blog on the subject, “On PURPOSE…,” both here and on Advantstar’s, http://workshop.search-autoparts.com site, a few weeks ago.

On PURPOSE…” was a simple attempt to let people know there was more to follow. The “more to follow” was a second blog post, “Made Where?” followed by a third, “Idea On Fire,” that was prompted by the garment factory fire in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

This is a big idea and big ideas are scary, especially when they arrive well ahead of the paradigm shift. I know that from personal experience. I’ve had to pull more than a few arrows out of my back and even though the arrows are an occupational hazard: an integral part of being a pioneer, they are still painful and damned uncomfortable!

But, think about it for a minute, if there were no rewards no one would ever leave their comfort zone. No one would go anywhere without a safety net in place to catch them when they lost their footing. Over the years, I’ve learned the only safety net I need is you. You’ve been there to catch me when I stumble and that’s all I’ve ever needed to know. So, we’re boldly going where no one has ever gone before: at least not in our industry, with a program we’re calling First Choice… Made in America!

The response to the blogs has been overwhelmingly positive. Everyone who has responded is more interested in how to make it work than in telling me how or why it won’t. That’s more encouraging than you can imagine because we are headed into uncharted territory where there is bound to be lot more, “Well, we’ll just have to figure it out as we go along…” than anyone could possibly be comfortable with.

The ‘good news’ is, we’ve had “to figure it out as we go along” in the past and lived to tell about! So here’s what we are planning to do.

We’re already working on a list of all the companies manufacturing goods within the United States for the Aftermarket: that is all companies employing American factory workers in facilities here in the United States.

We will be asking our distribution and manufacturing partners to help us indicate which parts are Made in America (Or, assembled here) by identifying them with an easily recognizable icon.

First Choice will be parts manufactured or assembled here in the United States and here’s how it can work… the decision-making hierarchy suggested by John Miller, of Freedom Automotive, a shop owner in Texas…

“Texas made, American made, American assembled, made offshore by American companies followed by made in North America or Mexico and then all others.”

Here is ours:

Made in AmericaManufactured within the borders of the United States by American factory workers; Made in America – Assembled within the borders of the United States by American factory workers; Made in the Northern Hemisphere – manufactured in Canada or Mexico by branded, recognized, aftermarket companies, etc.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t specified “manufactured by an American company,” it’s because I don’t care whether it was an American company with operations all over the globe or a multi-national corporation, like a Bosch or a Denso, who are just as committed to manufacturing world class quality products in factories here in the United States. All I care about is where that production line is and who is drawing that paycheck!

I will be asking our manufacturing and distribution partners to do whatever they can to reduce the cost of delivering those Made in America parts to you and me. I will do whatever I can to match whatever savings they are able to offer… or, get as close as I can. And, I will be encouraging you to do the same. Then, I’ll pass those savings along to the motorist.

Anything we can do to reduce the cost of that American-made part to the consumer reduces the price differential the vehicle owner can both see and feel between parts made here and their less expensive, offshore alternatives.

We will be identifying Made in America parts on our invoices with a “USA” added to the end of the part number and we will be adding additional value by extending our warranty on any part so identified by an extra 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first. For us, that will mean a 3year/36,000 mile warranty on parts that meet the above criteria…

Right now, these are just ideas: mental constructs. A response to the interminable problems we’ve all been facing throughout the endless recession and recovery. They will remain nothing more or less than ideas until someone does something with them: unless or until they are embraced and then implemented.

These ideas need you… Please don’t underestimate their power or the opportunity you have to make a difference: the power you have to make this work.

If you are a shop owner, give this idea a chance. Talk to your customers about it. Help make them aware of the critical difference supporting products, companies and jobs here in this country can make. Help them understand the benefits. Help them recognize the value. Help minimize the potential difference in cost. Make parts manufactured here in the United States your First Choice.

If you’re a Tech, bring this idea to your manager or owner. Encourage them to give this important idea a chance for all the reasons mentioned above. If that doesn’t work remind them the job they save just might be yours – but the company they save most assuredly will be their own!

If they don’t get it, let me know and I’ll try.

The most dangerous person on the planet is a highly motivated individual committed to unselfishly changing the world – or, at least their small corner of it…

Couple that passionate commitment with attainable goals, no matter how unrealistic or unreasonable, and you will find yourself confronted with a source of energy as powerful and formidable as any force of nature. Afford that individual a platform and changing the world suddenly seems a little more plausible.

When it comes to “First Choice… Made in America!” I am that individual and I’m hoping you will join me!

All you have to do is make a choice: sit there, wringing your hands and complaining about the recession, the recovery and the economy? Or, you can choose to act…

Are you willing to become a part of the solution and make the choice: the choice to join the growing First Choice… Made in America! army?

 

MADE WHERE?

Written by mitch. Posted in Aftermarket, Blog, Distribution, Manufacturing, Repair Community


 

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know about you, but I’m long past ‘weary’ when it comes to all this talk about the economy we’re forced to endure as our leaders – and, would-be leaders – drone on about what it’s going to take to ‘fix it.’

If anyone really had an answer the economy would be fixed by now. Instead, it’s all starting to sound like the teacher in the old Charlie Brown specials: the “whaw, whaw, whaw…” 

Instead of substance and success, it’s all posturing and pontificating. It is especially trying in the middle of the long recovery we are experiencing and just plain painful as we work our way through another election cycle.

If you’re anything like I am, you’ve already made the decision to turn it off and tune it out. The only problem is… I can’t. I can’t just turn “it” off. My brain won’t let me. Not without substituting something in its place and once these clowns started talking about how broken the economy is my convoluted mind began working on “the fix.”

A bit presumptuous because I’m no world-class economist, I’ll agree. But, I’m not an automotive engineer either and I’ve still managed a long and relatively successful career built around the service, maintenance and repair of a host of vehicles I didn’t have the background or education to design.

If it was broken and found its way to me it almost always left in better shape than when it arrived. It had to because I refused to quit until I had a solution! Now, the economy is broken and here’s the connection: Fixing stuff is what we do! So, is taking a shot at fixing the economy really as much of a stretch as it may seem?

Somewhere in the back of my mind it isn’t. In fact, it’s obvious… Apply the same skills and abilities that helped make us relatively good problem solvers and then get out there and do something!

So, here it is… “The Solution…” or at least a solution, according to Mitch! It bubbled to the surface while listening to a short podcast by Robert Reich, entitled: “Whose Got The Right Plan To Boost The Economy?” (Number 16   recorded 9-12-12)

Actually, it was something I’ve been thinking about since American manufacturing first started migrating overseas. Interestingly enough, both Reich and I have come to the same conclusion. Both of us believe the key to our economic future is the return of American manufacturing jobs with salaries high enough to allow American workers to purchase the products they are ultimately and intimately involved in creating.

According to Reich, the purchasing power of our middle class has been shrinking for the past thirty years – a period of time that spans the leadership of both parties – and stagnant for the past eight. Consequently, the problem our economy is facing isn’t a “Supply Side” problem, according to Reich. It’s a “Demand Side” problem, with the return of a strong manufacturing base as its solution.

I agree… But, just agreeing doesn’t necessarily provide a workable solution and here is where you, me and the Automotive Aftermarket all come together to provide a solution I not only believe can work, but one that will work if presented intelligently, supported properly and promoted aggressively!
It all came together when our search for a new and more powerful marketing tool at the shop collided with Robert Reich’s podcast…

As some of you may have already discovered, finding and executing that “killer” marketing tool isn’t always that easy. So, I started by re-examining everything we do and when I got to warranty, I paused for a moment. After all, what more can you do when you already offer a 2-year/24,000 mile warrant: would a longer warranty really be the marketing edge I was looking for? And, then it came to me – an opportunity far more compelling than something ‘just’ for us and here it is.

It starts with two questions: First, when it comes to quality of workmanship, productivity or the ability to innovate, is there anyone out there who really believes anyone in the world can compete a trained, educated, involved and highly motivated American factory worker when that factory worker is given the opportunity to compete?

I don’t…

Second, is there anyone out there who really believes we can’t compete when it comes to quality of product, workmanship, innovation or design: especially, in a Global Economy?

Is there anyone who really believes that our manufacturing capability is somehow less than world-class if or when our workers are allowed the opportunity to compete?

So, where is the disconnect?

The disconnect is price. Or, at least, that’s what everyone keeps telling us. American workers are just too expensive: expensive enough to make American products too expensive. That’s why everything has moved overseas and that’s why the purchasing power of the American middle-class – the only economic engine capable of restoring or sustaining the economy we once knew – has moved with it!

Well, here’s a way… a way our segment of the aftermarket can help bring it back!

We can demand products that are made here: manufactured or at least assembled in the United States. Quality products made in America by American workers!


Will those parts cost a few bucks more? I’m pretty sure they will, but the only way things are going to change is if we change them and the only way we can change them is by getting directly involved!

A number of aftermarket companies have moved at least some of their production capacity overseas for what must what seem like obvious reasons. I want them to bring at least a portion of that capacity home! I don’t know about you, but my experience with a number of ‘off-shore’ products has been less than stellar anyway.

Realistically, the choice is clear: How many of you would choose a part made outside the United States over one made in Texas or Minnesota, Wisconsin or Wyoming, California or Colorado, New York or New Jersey, Alabama or Tennessee?

Not many, I’ll bet.

So, here is what I propose: If you are a manufacturer, give me a break!

No, really, give me a break on the parts that are “Made in the USA.”
Give me a break on the parts that are made here and let me know what that break is: how much you are willing to sacrifice. It doesn’t have to be a lot! Just a point or two… Just enough to let me know you’d like to see manufacturing return to our shores as much as I would! Let me know and I’ll do whatever I can to see that every serious and responsible shop owner in the country is willing to sacrifice with you: willing to help bring those jobs home as well!

If you are a Jobber or Warehouse Distributor, don’t just pass that discount through… Match it! Match it or at least contribute to it and I’ll contribute with you. I’ll match that discount and offer a 3-year/36,000 mile warranty on ANY part manufactured or assembled within our borders and I will promote a program like this actively and aggressively anywhere and everywhere I can.

Why? Because, I believe Americans would pay a couple of dollars more for a part that was made here in the United States by a company employing workers who live here in the United States, spending their paychecks and paying taxes on other things made here that will grow the economy and ultimately benefit us all!

Unemployment is high: American factory workers want to get back to work and our factories are under capacity!

Shipping costs continue to rise causing the difference in cost that exists between foreign products brought here and those Made in America to become less and less of a competitive factor.

American consumers would rather buy American products: or, at least, that’s what they say and I think now is as good a time as any to put them to the test!

We all want the economy to recover and the recession to end and here is something we can all do to move that process forward.

It’s pretty simple really…

If you’re an Aftermarket Manufacturer, give me parts that are made in the United States by American workers. Help make those parts at least a little more affordable by removing as much cost as you can. If you are involved in the distribution industry, help make those parts more attractive by matching what the manufacturer has done. If you do, I’ll buy them, contribute to those allowances and then make those parts available to my clients along with a longer warranty and the very special story that goes along with them…

In fact, I’ll do more than that. I will promote it all proudly and aggressively and encourage every member of the repair community to join us.

I’ll help you create the kind of “Demand Side Economics” Robert Reich is talking about, the kind that will put Americans back to work, the kind that will result in a re-birth of American manufacturing, the kind of re-birth that can and will end the recession.

Give me Aftermarket parts that are Made In America: For Americans and I’ll Buy (And, sell more) American!

It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter where you are in our industry: manufacturing, distribution or repair. All that matters is whether or not you care: whether or not you’re willing to do more than nothing!

Help me get this train rolling! This is your chance to make a difference, to do more than just listen or complain. If you’re interested… contact me at:

mitch@mitchschneidersworld.com and lets see what we can do…