President Obama traveled to Milwaukee on Feb. 15 to visit a Master Lock factory where the company brought back approximately 100 jobs from China. The visit also included a discussion of the economy and American manufacturing.
Obama gave a callout to Master Lock in his State of the Union address for moving jobs back to the United States, and company president and CEO John Heppner participated in the January “Insourcing American Jobs” forum at the White House.
Since mid-2010, Master Lock has brought back approximately 100 union jobs to its Milwaukee factory. The decision to bring these jobs back was partially motivated by economic reasons related to increasingly higher labor and logistics costs in Asia, as well as ongoing labor availability challenges, especially in the coastal areas of China. Advantages of moving the jobs to Milwaukee include a more competitive overall cost structure, greater control and the ability to provide better service to customers -- in addition to the overall economic benefit to the company’s home state of Wisconsin. According to Heppner, Master Lock would like to bring more jobs back from overseas should the underlying economics support the move.
As part of the Insourcing Forum, Heppner stressed two key challenges that he recommends government and business officials address to continue the insourcing of jobs: One was improved access to skilled labor in North America. The other was innovations in the supply chain structure to improve efficiencies and productivity.
“We are happy that the issue of manufacturing and insourcing continues to be a priority for President Obama,” Heppner said. “We support meaningful dialogue on this important topic and look forward to continued work with the government, educational institutions and fellow businesses to help improve the climate for manufacturing in the U.S.”