There’s a growing conversation in the U.S. on buying American-made as a new push forms to bring manufacturing jobs back.
After three decades of decline in the U.S. manufacturing industry, energy prices are falling and labor costs are rising in China, reigniting a made-in-America movement. Even Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is helping to spearhead the push.
Vincent Vittorio and Nathaniel Thomas McGill were inspired by this conversation.
As two filmmakers set on inciting change, they produced a documentary titled “American Made Movie,” a piece focused on the manufacturing that is taking place in the U.S.
Both men have family members who have worked in the manufacturing industry, helping to spark their interest in the dwindling sector that some Americans are fighting hard to keep.
“It’s always been a part of our lives just like it’s always been a part of a lot of Americans’ lives,” McGill said. “Everyone was interested in free-range eggs and the organic movement. This labeling and these products were around 15 years ago and that reminded us of the ‘Made in America’ label and the things we’d seen growing up and hadn’t seen in a while.”
The duo set out to visit 15 plants producing American-made products all over the country over two years.
“We weren’t sure if we were going to be depressed at the end of two years,” McGill said, laughing.
“But we picked the right moment. This has become part of the national conversation,” he added. “It’s pretty inspiring to see.”
From the Louisville Slugger factory in Louisville, Ky., to the New Balance shoe plant in Skowhegan, Me., Vittorio and McGill saw the highs and lows of what it takes to produce American-made merchandise.
They documented the unfortunate losses in American manufacturing such as Merrily Made, a polymer product business in Cromwell, Conn., that lost customers to Chinese manufacturers. But they also saw companies such as Annin Flagmakers, based in Roseland, N.J., succeed in keeping their products made in the U.S.
Out of all the sites he visited, Vittorio said he was particularly inspired by New Balance, the only athletic shoe company that is still manufacturing footwear in the U.S.
“Getting to understand the process of it gave us this new understanding,” Vittorio said.
Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, went to the premiere of the documentary in Washington, D.C., in July and passionately defended American manufacturing.
“You can’t build an economy on taking in each other’s laundry. You’ve got to make something,” King said in July.
He said he hoped to see government begin to promote a “preference for American-made footwear,” like New Balance shoes.
King’s comments were made during the “32 cities in 32 days” tour the filmmakers embarked on to promote “American Made Movie.”
“It was really a great chance to share the film with the people that are on the ground working in manufacturing every single day,” McGill said.
“We’ve gotten so many e-mails saying, ‘Thank you so much for opening my eyes,’” Vittorio said.
“People say manufacturing is dead … and we disagree with that. There are a lot of things being made in the country,” said Vittorio. “And there are a lot of companies that see the value in starting here and in staying here.”
Vittorio and McGill said they have walked away from the documentary feeling inspired, like they had a role in the larger story that’s part of the national conversation.
“American Made Movie” will be released in New York City, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Chicago and other select cities on Aug. 30.