From the Homeland
Each year, HCN raises its flag full-staff in honor of the homegrown manufacturing efforts taking place on our soil. Particularly in the building materials and home improvement industry, many enterprising suppliers go the Made-in-USA way because, as they put it, it’s the obvious choice.
“Even in the most challenging economic times, we refused to listen to the siren call of overseas manufacturing,” said Mark Brandon, president of DMT, which has been 100% American-made since 1976. “The quality of our products is our most important differentiator, and we feel it is critical to control that quality by manufacturing here in the USA.”
Even beyond superior quality and the boon they bring to the national economy, American-made products are a matter of pride for the people who stamp “Made in USA” on their packages — just ask any of our readers who filled HCN’s inbox with patriotic product stories over the past couple of weeks. Here, in no particular order, are a few highlights.
Powernail Model 2000 Pneumatic 20 Gage Cleat Nailer
From the same guys who introduced the first tongue and groove floor nailer 68 years ago, another industry first: a pneumatic, trigger-operated, 20 gage cleat nailer backed by American ingenuity. (powernail.com)
STIHL Woodcutter Splitting Maul
Every company’s Made-in-USA story is unique, and in STIHL’s case, that involves products that are engineered in Germany but built in the United States. It also involves selling its products exclusively to independent dealers and businesses. The Woodcutter Splitting Maul has a heavy-duty cutting head and a handle made from high-quality ash. (stihlusa.com)
Johnson Hardware’s 200WM Wall Mount “Barn Door Type” Sliding Door Hardware
This Elkhart, Ind.-based manufacturer fights counterfeits by die stamping its name onto its products. The company also passes muster with the American National Standard Institute’s quality and safety standards. (johnsonhardware.com)
Reveal Designs BCJ Lever 1
Like many American-made products, this door handle shirks convention. Created by national design firm Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the BCJ Lever 1 blends warmth with sleek contemporary style and functions with tubular latches, mortise and multipoint locks. (reveal-designs.com)
Watermark Designs Loft Collection
Decorative plumbing and lighting reaches its apex in Brooklyn, N.Y., where Watermark Designs crafts 1007o American-made and American-conceived products. The impeccably stylish Loft Collection hits “industrial chic” on the nail. (watermark-designs.com)
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry PVC Schedule 40 DWV pipe
Charlotte Pipe and Foundry operates seven U.S. plants, where 1,350 employees churn out 1007o American-made pipe and fittings. And it’s been doing it for more than 100 years. The product mix ranges from heavy-duty cast iron to an extensive line of plastics for residential or commercial applications. (charlottepipe.com)
Coverings Etc Bio-Luminum Recycled Aircraft Tiles
One point for American manufacturing, and another for Mother Earth. These swanky-looking tiles — which can be used for flooring and wall-coverings — are made from durable, 1007o post-consumer recycled aluminum from the fuselages of retired aircraft. (coveringsetc.com)
Red Dragon Mini Dragon Torch
Flame Engineering’s story certainly has some grassroots appeal: It began as a father-and-son operation, producing propane-powered torches from a garage. Still family-owned today, Flame Engineering is the maker of the Mini Dragon, an environmentally friendly, highly portable weed torch. (flameengineering.com)
Hardcore Hammers was born out of a need for efficient hammers that were built to last. The original Hardcore Hammer, pictured, features a recessed milled insert that helps guide the traction surface for precise hammer strikes — as they say, “made in America by Americans for Americans.” (hardcorehammers.com)
Envi Wall Mounted Room Heater
Even though it sources some components off-shore, Envi is designed, manufactured, patented, distributed and sold on American soil. Eheat made the commitment to keep jobs in the United States after its imported heaters presented all kinds of quality issues. Envi stakes its claim on its low running costs — as little as 4 cents per hour in some states — and its cool-to-the-touch design. And because it does its electrical testing and manufacturing in the United States, it has the whole quality-control thing going for it too. (eheat.com)
Dap DynaFlex 230
DynaFlex 230 is a durable and versatile sealant that can be used for demanding exterior or interior projects. The high-performance formula seals joints up to 1 in. wide and adheres to a wide range of building materials such as wood, MDF, PVC, polystyrene, and composite trim-board. (dap.com)
WOLF Designer Cabinets
For WOLF, going “Made in USA” meant growth in cabinet sales of over 40%. Its Designer Cabinet series, pictured, comes in a wide swath of color and design options to suit the many varied tastes of Americana. (wolfdesignercabinets.com)
DMT Diamond Whetsone Bench Stone
DMT went “Made in USA” in 1976, and it hasn’t looked back since. This has meant an outsized capability to keep its quality standards high — with Whetsone Bench Stones that are engineered with superior flatness and an evenly covered micronized monocrystalline diamond sharpening surface. (dmtsharp.com)
DeWalt 18V Cordless Adhesive Dispenser
DeWalt, which has long carried a wide assortment of Built-in-USA products, announced back in November that it was moving cordless power tool production to its Charlotte, N.C., facility. The Cordless Adhesive Dispenser, pictured here, delivers 650 pounds of pushing force to dispense high-viscosity adhesives and sealants, as well as an auto-reverse feature that helps keep messes at bay. (dewalt.com)
DuraTite Plastic Duct Fittings
If the star-spangled veneer is any indicator, DuraTite’s plastic duct fittings are proud of their origins. Made from high-quality polypropylene and glass mixture, they’re also airtight and built to last. (duratite.com)
Ames True American Aluminum Scoop Shovel
Look no further than the “True American” label. The Aluminum Scoop Shovel is part of a long tradition of durable, multipurpose hand tools that can be used year-round and for years to come. The handle, made from stained North American ash, is verified sustainable. (amestruetemper.com)
Teem Wholesale Liberty Series Doors
Seeking reliable quality and a patriotic cause, Teem Wholesale created its own custom trim line, which it expanded to include solid wood doors in 2010. Each individual Liberty Series door begins its journey in the Appalachian Mountains and is hand-constructed by a custom craftsman. (teemwholesale.com)
The patriotic voice of the consumer
In research fresh off the presses, 60% of consumers surveyed say they are more likely to shop for Made-in-USA products than they were five years ago.
That blows away the 7% who described themselves as “less likely.”
Those are the topline findings from a consumer survey conducted by Media, Pa.-based market research firm SSRS.
Diving deeper into the data, the weighted analysis shows younger consumers and older consumers are more likely to look for the Made-in-USA label (Chart No. 3).
“Millennials have been shown in many studies to be very receptive to cause marketing, such as ‘Made in USA,’ so it’s not surprising that their sentiments are similar to older consumers whose feelings may be influenced by post-war memories,” said Mark Delaney, VP business and consumer insights for SSRS.
As for motivation — jobs beats quality by more than two-to-one (Chart No. 2).
That, too, is grounded in economic dollars and cents, Delaney said. “Given recent economic challenges, it certainly makes sense that a consumers’ reasoning toward buying ‘Made in USA’ would be more influenced by wanting to see a neighbor or relative keep their job.”
The concentration of manufacturing in the South usually results in a stronger sense of pocketbook patriotism as it relates to purchasing behavior, he added.
The all-American, all-inspiring home
Nearly two years ago, Bozeman, Mont., builder Anders Lewendal made national headlines for building a house made entirely of Made-in-USA products and materials.
While the mainstream media may have moved on from the Made-in-USA builder story, Lewendal’s effort has spawned a mini-movement among builders to do similar Made-in-USA projects.
“I know of 12 builders in 10 states who are building homes with Made-in-USA products,” Lewendal said. “There may be more, but this is what I have heard about.”
Indeed, the Made-in-USA home-building story is part of a broader push among domestic companies to promote the use of American-made goods as a way to help the economy grow and to hire or retain more U.S. workers.
“It’s exploded,” Lewendal said of the movement.
One builder who was inspired by Lewendal is Corey Condron, a Spokane, Wash., builder who has committed to using all Made-in-USA materials in his new homes, where possible.
Watching Lewendal profiled on a television news show “got the patriot juices flowing,” Condron said. “It got me thinking: It’s just a simple concept, yet all you have to do is do it, and it will create American jobs and it just makes sense.”
Condron chronicled his Made-in-USA home on the company’s Facebook page. When completed, the 2,100-sq.-ft. home will list for $243,000.
He estimates that buying solely U.S. products will increase his building costs by 1%, or $2,500, for the home. Condron said he is absorbing the extra cost.
“This concept has gained a lot of traction in a short amount of time,” he said.
In addition to Washington State, Made-in-USA homes are being built, or have been completed, in Montana, Oregon, Texas, Florida and Virginia.
We Build America
Nearly 200 companies in more than 40 states have joined a We Build America initiative, which is intended to spread the word that homes that are built with approximately 95% American-made materials and products can be cost-competitive with homes built using foreign lumber; nails; fasteners; or other building materials and supplies, such as adhesives and caulking.
Marnie Oursler, a Bethany Beach, Del., builder is credited with creating the We Build America initiative. Oursler approached 84 Lumber with the idea of sharing her experiences and recruiting other builders.
It is estimated that current American homes contain approximately 65% American-made and sourced products. With up to nearly 40% of the $295 billion American home-building industry relating to product costs, a small percentage increase in American-made products could create hundreds of thousands of jobs nationwide in the years to come, according to some builders.
Materials suppliers are also getting into the game. As one of the last remaining nail manufacturers in the United States, Maze Nails supports the “Buy America Challenge,” which states that if builders, contractors and remodel-ers purchase 5% more American-made building products, 220,000 jobs would be created in the United States.
“People are delighted to hear they can still buy nails Made in the USA,” said Maze general manager Roelif Loveland, who added that if every lumberyard across the United States would order two additional boxes (100 pounds) of Maze Nails, the company could hire another 20 workers in its Peru, Ill., factory.
There’s an emotional and economic story, as well as practical story to tell, according to Oursler. She says she found that higher quality, American-made nails have a great impact during the framing process. With fewer jammed nail guns and less waste, Oursler estimated she saved about two and a half hours each week during the framing process. Another discovery: While overall lumber costs were approximately 1.5% higher using American-made lumber, there was nearly 15% less waste, which led to less culling of lumber to ensure boards are straight and structurally sound.
GAF Materials Corp., an American-owned company with American-made products and a self-described focus on creating jobs domestically, has partnered with The All American Home project. As part of the project, GAF directs contractors to the website TheAllAmericanHome.org to locate manufacturers that make American-made products and to encourage all to take the 5% pledge to use more materials that are made in America.
“Surveys consistently show that homeowners prefer American-made products,” said Ted Marcopolus, VP marketing services for GAF. “In fact, a recent study showed that more than eight out of 10 homeowners favor or would pay more for American-made products from a company that’s American-owned.
“Builders might be surprised at how many people would be willing to pay a small premium to support American manufacturing and American jobs,” he said. “Builders who are committed to supporting American jobs have an opportunity to differentiate themselves from their competitors in this area.”
Since his initial Made-in-USA project, Lewendal said he has consciously tried to use as many American-sourced products as possible in his projects.
“I think it’s unnecessary to try and use every product from America,” he said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t make sense. But I try to use 95% or as close to 100% as possible. Most people think it is so hard to find American products, which simply is not true.”
Looking back at the project that created such a media frenzy and reignited the Made-in-USA building fury, Lewendal said he didn’t do it for the publicity. “I was curious myself: Could this be done?” he told HCN. “What I found out? Yes, it can be done, and it really caught people’s attention.”
“This concept has gained a lot of traction in a short amount of time.”— Corey Condron