by Kara Fiechter
Everyone can see and feel the cost of their favorite items increasing while incomes aren’t increasing the same. While business owners are trying to keep prices down and competitive, there are so many forces against an “American Made” company. China’s labor force is continuously showing how productive they can be at a fraction of the cost of American employees. So as a business owner or prospective business owner, what will you choose for your business? Will you keep the American economy thriving by investing in your own country, or will you supply a cheaper product, made overseas, in order to increase profit margins for yourself?
There is a company in Fort Wayne, Indiana that has decided to stand apart from its competitors by staying “American Made.” The company’s name is Aardvark Straws, and they manufacture the cute paper straws that you may have seen scattered across Pinterest. Their straws are 100% Made in the USA, biodegradable, eco-friendly, and from sustainable forests. They are the only American manufacture of paper straws now because all of the competition has sold out and moved overseas for their production. Staying in the USA has certainly had its disadvantages in the market for them because they pay their employees a fair wage, which increases overhead costs. In order to compete in the market, Aardvark has perfected their process so that the paper straws won’t get soggy like their foreign competitors. They have also patented the Eco-Flex™ straw, which is a bendable paper straw. Because of their quality, they have secured licensing with all of the NFL teams along with the top NCAA teams. Lastly, they have figured out how to sell custom straws for any event like weddings and baby showers.
This company has decided to stick to their roots and stay “Made in the USA.” Although they are not the cheapest on the market, they have been able to maintain business by specializing their product to sell to a slightly different market. If you are considering starting a business, or if you have been in business for a long time, this is a very big question that you must ask yourself from the beginning. Will you sacrifice some business and keep business at home, or will you offshore your products to decrease the cost to the consumer? Both have long and short term affects for your business and for the consumer. I advise that whatever you choose, you should stick to it. Brand yourself as a company that is proud to be Made in the USA, or brand yourself as a company who is proud to have low cost leadership. It all boils down to whom you want your company to be known for.