US Manufacturers Get Boost From Overseas Customers
A few years ago, Signature Systems Group, which makes portable flooring and fencing products, had $10 million in annual sales and only sold its products in the U.S.
Now, more than half of the Bronx, N.Y., company's customers are overseas, annual sales have reached $70 million and the company has quadrupled its work force.
During the opening ceremonies of this summer's London Olympics, Elton John even performed on one of Signature Systems Group's floors.
"I could see the floor," said Arnon Rosan, CEO of Signature Systems Group. "I know they put stuff on top of it but I could always see where the floor was. It was exciting."
But what's truly exciting is the comeback that companies like Signature Systems Group are experiencing.
The Boston Consulting Group estimated last year that as many as 3 million new American jobs would be created by 2020. Now, it's bumped that number to as many as 5 million jobs.
For the first time since the 1930s, U.S. manufacturers have an advantage in exports.
With the most productive workers in the world, U.S. labor is now 20 percent to 45 percent cheaper than foreign competitors. New technologies like fracking are unlocking energy reserves and pushing down energy costs. Even shipping from U.S. ports is cheaper.
"The container ships are coming to the U.S. full," said the Boston Consulting Group's Hal Sirkin. "Those containers have to go back anyway, so the U.S. is able to put goods in that container and the shipping companies don't charge them that much more."
Many U.S. companies said they can now compete globally.
- At RibbedTee.com in Los Angeles , business is up 600 percent and its products are now sold in 24 countries.
- Hurd Windows and Doors of Medford and Merrill, Wis., said it has customers overseas.
- Cali-Bowl, which is designed in California, now reaches customers in Korea.
- Even Oklahoma City's Lady Americana told ABC News it was hiring.
Economists said that the boom in manufacturing could drive down unemployment by 2 percent or 3 percent by the end of the decade.
ABC News' Eric Noll contributed to this story.