Made in America: A Blueprint for Creating Jobs
If each builder bought 5% more U.S.-made materials, it would make 220,000 jobs.
Oct. 12, 2011 -- In Bozeman, Mont., Anders Lewendal is hard at work building a home he hopes will be a blueprint for creating jobs in America.
Lewendal, an economist turned builder, is constructing a house made entirely from U.S.-made products. Everything from the nails, screws and bolts, to the steel, staples and bathtub is made in the United States.
"Every piece here is made in America," he said.
Lewendal is convinced that if every builder bought just 5 percent more U.S.-made materials, they would create 220,000 jobs. The Boston Consulting Group agrees, confirming that Lewendal's numbers add up.
In all, the U.S.-made house is being built with more than 120 products from more than 33 states. But builders do acknowledge that using American products can be more expensive.
A box of nails is $5 more than those made in China and steel is $146 more a bundle. Even though certain goods are more expensive, in total, the cost of the house is nearly identical, given that other U.S.-made products are cheaper. The all-American home, which is not yet finished, is running only 1 to 2 percent more than a foreign-sourced house.
While some items might be more expensive, the difference in quality is often noticeable. The nails produced by Maze Nails of Peru, Ill., are made using high-carbon steel and a double coat of zinc. The result is that they are stronger, rust proof and jam the nail gun less.
"[We're] one of the last makers of nails in this country," company president Roelif Loveland said.
About 90 percent of nails come from China and, Loveland said, if he could double sales, he could add 25 more jobs.
Many other U.S. companies said the same thing. If Lewendal's idea catches on, they could hire, too. From Gorilla Tape of Cincinnati to a Sherwin-Williams plant in Georgia and a Moen plant in Pennsylvania, companies around the country say if builders bought more American products, it would put people back to work.
ABC News sent Lewendal's list to builders across the country and some responsed immediately.
Contractor Tarek Saad said he started ordering Maze Nails, an architect in Miami said she'll start buying the U.S.-made items that are priced the same as the foreign ones, and Paul Minnis, a remodeler from Michigan, doubled Lewendal's request.
"If 5 percent will make a difference," he wrote, "I am going to try for 10 percent or more American-made products."