First Choice

Made in USAThe key to a strong economic future in the United States 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.

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 featured on network television, with ABC’s Diane Sawyer and David Muir championing the cause.

When it comes to quality of workmanship, productivity or innovation, do you believe the rest of the world can compete against a trained, educated, involved and highly motivated American factory worker — so long as that factory worker is given the opportunity to compete?

Is there anyone out there who really believes American manufacturers 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?

I don’t … But, where is the disconnect?
The disconnect is price. Or, at least that’s what everyone keeps telling us: “American workers are 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.

The United States outlawed unsafe and unsanitary work conditions more than a hundred years agoThere is a more powerful reason to buy American
It’s called morality. Allowing other people, other human beings, to be exploited – to suffer and sometimes die so that someone, somewhere can make a few dollars more buying cheap and selling dear … so you or I can save a buck on a shirt, a pair of pants, a pair of tennis shoes, a motor mount or a bearing — is unconscionable. It’s just plain wrong, especially because we would never allow it to happen here in the United States.

What we seem to have forgotten is that our products are more expensive because workers overseas are being paid pennies a day to work in conditions our country outlawed more than a hundred years ago. And, if we can’t bring these jobs home, let’s at least ensure the same rules apply to everyone: rules that ensure the same kind of safeguards we fought for and insist upon for ourselves.

First Choice ... Buy American!This is a big idea, and big ideas are scary
Well, here’s a way I believe the automotive industry, more specifically, our segment of the automotive aftermarket, can help:

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

So, my shop, Schneider’s Automotive, is 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!

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.

A number of aftermarket companies have moved at least some of their production capacity overseas. I want them to bring at least a portion of that capacity home. Realistically, the choice is clear: How many of you would choose a part manufactured or assembled outside the United States over one made here? Not many, I’ll bet.

First Choice ... Made in America!What’s your First Choice?
We are asking our distribution and manufacturing partners to help us indicate which parts are Made in America (or, at least assembled here) by identifying them with an easily recognizable icon. Our shop’s First Choice parts will be manufactured or assembled here in the United States, and here’s our decision-making hierarchy:

Made in America
– Manufactured within the borders of the United States by American factory workers;
– 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 manufacturers.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t specified “manufactured by an American company,” it’s because I don’t care whether it is a U.S.-based company with operations all over the globe or a multinational corporation, like Bosch or 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.

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

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.” 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!

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 match that discount. And I will promote the program actively and aggressively, anywhere and everywhere I can.

At Schneider’s Automotive, we will be identifying Made in America parts on our invoices with a “USA” added to the end of the part number. We will be adding additional value by extending our warranty on any of these parts by an extra 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever occurs first. For us, that’s a three-year/36,000 mile warranty for customers on parts that meet the First Choice program criteria.

Why? Because, I believe American consumers 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, who spend their paychecks and pay taxes on other things made here … growing the economy and ultimately benefiting us all.

Help your customers and the economy
If you are a Shop Owner, give this idea a chance. Talk with your customers. 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 I’ve mentioned. 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, contact me at and I’ll try.

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

Become a part of the solution and make the choice to join the growing
First Choice… Made in America! army

4 thoughts on “First Choice

  1. Mitch, it’s always a pleasure to read your articles. There’s more to running a shop than turning a wrench and you definitely bring that out in your writing.

    My articles take a different approach but in the end we’re both on the same track, and that’s to make the work place, the shop, the crew, and customer awareness better than before. My hats off to ya buddy… great stuff.

    1. Thank you, Scott… If only they had told me that when I first dangled my feet in the deep end of the pool! ;-{)}

      Here’s to a Happy, Healthy, Safe and Prosperous New Year!

  2. Mitch,
    Mark and I are really interested in this concept. I am going to speak to our suppliers to see what is available to us made in the USA and to our customers to see if there is interest there. I cannot imagine that our folks would not think this is a great idea. I so appreciate your commitment to this and hopefully it will become a movement!! Thanks for a great idea!

    1. Good Morning, Donna

      I’ve got letters going out to a number of the big Groups and to many of our Associations. I believe this may be one of the few things all of us can get behind and I think both the benefit and the difference we can make is obvious. Not sure whether or not you went backwards through some of the other pieces I’ve written about “First Choice…” But, most of them are here along with the 30-second commercial that goes live today and the six-and-a-half minute video (there is another, longer video – But, that one was a bit more amaturish).

      Please let me know how your suppliers respond…

      NOTE: what we’re doing is identifying the parts made here by adding a M-USA suffix for “made in the USA” so we can identify those parts for the extended warranty.

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