Friday, September 6, 2013

Revitalizing “Made In America” Movement

Recently we have heard a lot about the revitalization of the “Made In America” movement.  While some companies could be claiming to revitalize the movement with manipulative intentions, most do not have ill intentions.  Since buying American Made products is a value we have always believed strongly in here at Interior WooDesigns, we understand the value of supporting American Made goods.  As an American manufacturer having produced store fixtures for more than 30 years here in the United States and having never once outsourced any work overseas, we fully comprehend the pros and cons of overseas manufacturing plants.  While it could be easy to shift facilities abroad to render greater financial gains, we have always been able to see past the initial gratification and have stuck to our core values.

As many American brands outsourced to facilities abroad, consumers continued using these same products that left the United States to render greater profit margins.  While brand loyalty remained strong, it wasn’t until recent years when people have began realizing the jeans they are wearing are no longer made in America, but are now being produced in Mexico or abroad.  With many brands that have had long roots in American society, many consumers failed to realize or question where the products they wear or use are manufactured.  Having discovered through noticeable quality variances, and lots of media attention throughout the last 2 years in particular, it is now that people are questioning more frequently where the goods they buy are produced.

Now that people are aware, revitalizing the “Made In America” movement is gaining an immense amount of strength.  While this movement is reviving American manufacturing, it will also generate many jobs, and help the overall health of our nation.  Since our nation has been slowly creeping back from the recession, we all can appreciate the “Made In America” movement that will help put people back to work, continue to strengthen our economy, and make us all less reliant on foreign goods and manufacturing.

In addition, revitalizing the “Made In America” movement have other benefits that allow manufacturers to monitor quality control more closely, and won’t allow inferior or dangerous products to slip into a products construction.  Due to American Health and Safety standards, that are often non-existent in other nations throughout the world, this is favorable for U.S. consumers and manufacturers.  Another important aspect for many Americans is ensuring the employees of the goods we purchase are not working in deplorable conditions, and are making a wage worthy of the price consumers pay for the goods.  In America, we mandate companies pay at least minimum wage, and with tenor often will receive pay increases.  While U.S. minimum wage is SIGNIFICANTLY more than the wages a person would be paid for comparable work overseas in many nations, producing domestically provides many jobs and tax revenue.  When more people are working and paying taxes, it means more people are paying their share into Social Security and Government Subsidies, in addition to lowering unemployment rates.  Additionally, by providing American jobs, those additional folks who now have jobs can and will likely buy the manufactured product or at least provide word of mouth marketing that can’t be generated by overseas manufacturing operations.

While the “Made In America” movement is beneficial to manufacturers, the American labor force, and consumers, it also is very beneficial for many local, state, and national economies as well.  Since manufacturing is a staple indicator of the national economy, the amount of goods we produce domestically affects how other nations perceive our nations viability.  In an effort to establish the strength the United States is known for, U.S. Manufacturing is vital.  It is with great appreciation and encouragement that we embrace revitalizing the “Made In America” movement.  I would urge everyone to check the clothes you wear and the products you buy to see where it is produced, and if it is not produced domestically search for an American alternative if looking to replace.  In addition, if buying online many websites have recently added “country of origin” next to the products you wish to browse.  By purchasing American made goods, all Americans benefit, and will help U.S. goods be more competitive in the global marketplace.

The advantages of revitalizing the “Made In America” movement are numerous, and the economic impact is great.  As a U.S. manufacturer dedicated to buying domestic goods whenever possible, we couldn’t be more thrilled to assist in the movement.  With many manufacturers bringing facilities back to the U.S., available domestic made options will be more readily available, will bring shipping costs down, and will allow customers to receive the quality products from brands they have grown to love, all while helping fellow Americans and the U.S. economy as well.  In an effort to bring this movement to fruition, I ask for your support in buying American Made goods.  Revitalizing the “Made In America” movement can only bring positives, and will rebuild American manufacturing to a strength we all will appreciate.  Manufacturers, Retailers, and Consumers a like will all benefit from supporting products Made In the U.S.A.  Thanks for your support.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Consumer Confidence is Gaining Strength

With the past months having been hectic, I have neglected blogging and apologize for any inconvenience for those who read our posts regularly.  Although we have been inundated for the past 8 month in our production of retail store fixtures, we have not lost focus of the overall market which has been gaining remarkable strength.

While our manufacturing plant at Interior WooDesigns has been gaining strength throughout recent months, we have seen the steepest increase in production since 2007.  Since our production plant is dependent on the retail industry, we are glad to see what appears to be a sign of economic recovery which has gloomed over us since the beginning of the recession.  Having seen periodic glimpses of hope throughout the past few years, it nevertheless has remained difficult with consumer confidence lagging behind with hesitation. 

Since recent statistics have shown steady increases in retail sales for the past 3 months, we are hopeful the trend will continue.  While retail sales are dependent upon consumer spending, it is evident that consumer confidence is gaining strength in some fashion.

Although there are many global events occurring throughout the world, fuel prices have remained relatively constant, which is a key factor in economic stability and consumer confidence.  With this being said, it appears to be having a profound impact on consumer confidence and the strengthening of our economy.

In addition, we also have noticed a significant increase in the real estate market as well, which is used as an economic indicator showing remarkable strength.  With the statistics showing an uptick in the real estate market for the past 3 months, they too have seen the greatest increase in market demand and sales since 2007 when the housing market began falling due to the recession.  Here in Southwest Florida, which is said to be one of the worst areas affected by the recession in the nation with an abundance of foreclosures, it appears the market is crawling back according to realtors I’ve spoken with.

Another market that is showing signs of recovery is the luxury market industry as well.  In a recent article I read, it indicated luxury home sales were up drastically from recent years, as was luxury car sales, and sales of high end jewelry, which were hit hard by the recession.

With a wide array of industries seeing signs of strength, and an increase in consumer capital being spent, we are optimistic that consumer confidence is on the rise.  Knowing that consumer confidence is a key component to a stable economy, it is comforting to see money being released into the economy via consumer spending.  Another very important factor in determining consumer confidence is unemployment rates which have been falling, and with an increase in job positions available, this too helps ease consumer spending tensions.  When additional moneys are filtered through the economy and a stable, non volatile national economic situation is operating smoothly we all are benefactors.

With all industries and consumers having struggled throughout recent years, it is reassuring to see and hear of many industries that are coming back from the recession.  Consumer confidence is so very powerful in controlling our economy, and now that the recession has purged many companies, and affected millions of lives in toxic ways, it appears we can all look forward to better days yet to come.  In the meantime, until the economy is back strong we will continue to pray for continued economic strength and less economic uncertainty.  While we as Americans have outsourced many jobs overseas, this is a time when many can see the importance of providing American Jobs, and less outsourcing.  In other words, don’t forget to support American jobs, by supporting American Made Products.  To find many American Made products, simply do a web search, and you will be surprised to find many products that are manufactured here within the United States of America.  If we all do our part to strengthen OUR economy, consumer confidence will continue to increase, unemployment will continue to fall, and our national economy will continue to rejuvenate, in turn strengthening the value of the American Dollar.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Material Shift for Longevity Increase

Having manufactured store fixtures for nearly 30 years for retailers across the country, at Interior WooDesigns we recently have seen an interesting shift.  Although many years ago retail store fixtures were once comprised of all real wood then stained to a desired color, many companies switched to other more cost affective alternatives.  Since real wood fixtures are more labor intensive, and material is more costly, many companies chose alternatives such as Melamine, Particle Board, and Laminate options which could have a desired look for a significant amount less.  Having altered designs and materials to cheapen the retail displays to the least possible amount, many retailers were willing to gamble on the fixtures lifespan.

Although our clients have been aware of the decrease in durability and a fixtures longevity in a commercial environment in comparison to real wood, most chose to continue with the less expensive alternatives.  With the last few years having been extremely rocky for most consumers, retailers, and many businesses, the less expensive alternatives were probably appropriate for the economic times.  Although the trend of economy store fixtures has not expired, and has trended for more than the last 15 years, we recently have noticed an upswing in desired quality.

Since the cost of fixtures are often depreciated over 6-7 years with a 10 year expectancy prior to replacement.  We have noticed some economy fixtures in commercial environments in as little as a few months to 6 years looking like they went through World War II.  Even though we know real wood fixtures can end up looking the same, it usually takes much longer to age the displays than with the less expensive wood alternatives.  With some clients having realized the value in better quality fixtures we have noticed an upswing for requests of real wood and plywood construction with laminate for an increase in long term durability.  Although plywood construction with a laminate face is not equal in durability to real wood, neither is the price.  At a price significantly less than real wood, but more than melamine or particle board construction, we are excited to see better quality fixtures hitting retail environments once again.

Will this be a short term or long term trend? Who knows?  Although we would like to manufacture the better quality fixtures that will hold up for an extended period before needing replacement, we are happy to produce whatever our clients choose.  Regardless of whatever construction medium our clients choose, we make every effort to ensure the ruggedness of the fixture holding up to normal wear and tear in commercial retail environments to the best of our ability.  Since we pride ourselves on producing the best quality store fixtures in the United States for a reasonable and competitive price, we enjoy seeing our fixtures in retail environments in good condition which helps to set the ambiance within the retail establishment.  Even though the fixture should not be the focal point drawing attention away from the product on the display, it should represent an image for customers as to the type of merchandise that’s being displayed.  In an effort to help our clients maintain that desired look, building a good quality store fixture that will last is crucial, regardless of whatever materials are used.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Economic Hostage Stand-Off

Although we have entered the New Year without a fiscal cliff thus far, it is starting to feel like a SWAT standoff until March.  With little movement from both Republicans and Democrats, compromises are a must in order to move forward.  Since many of us have already noticed less in our paychecks from an increase in payroll taxes, and fuel price increases which have remained high since Christmas due to economic uncertainty, resolving this quickly is a must.

Like a hostage in a Congressional Standoff, We the People must demand a resolution.  With economic uncertainty, people quit spending money, which will drive companies out of business, and not stimulate growth, but cause stagnant or negative growth which could lead us into another recession, which Americans Can Not Afford.  With many Americans having already depleted much of their savings to get by over the past few years, unemployment figures still high, and the economy not completely recouped from the recession, We Must Find a Resolution. 

Even the best of hostage negotiators use compromises to defuse a situation, which could be a lesson for Congressional Leaders, but since it appears many of them care more about being re-elected than what is best for the MAJORITY of the population, it could be an insurmountable dilemma if it is not resolved with swiftness.

In the final month of 2012 when retailers count on a significant amount of income brought in by Holiday Sales, in order to sustain through the slow times of the year, they saw the smallest increase in Holiday Sales they have seen since 2008.  Since the boom is calculated from Black Friday through Christmas Eve, and can represent 20-40% of some companies annual sales, its importance is extremely relevant for future growth and financial future.  Although retailers overall showed a 4.5% increase in the Holiday Season, with Target whom is the nations second largest retailer reported that sales were flat from last year, and consumer spending was only up .7% according to SpendingPulse.

With more than 25% of all Americans tied to retail in some fashion, one can only hope a backlash from the Holiday Season shortfall has a minimal economic impact.  Although those of us in the manufacturing industry saw increases in production in the forth quarter of 2012, we pray it is not short lived by the economic uncertainty caused by congressional leaders.  Regardless of political view, a solution to the problem is being demanded by the people, yet they continue to wave at us with their middle finger.  In an effort to make a difference, I personally vow to punish those whom we elect to make decisions on our behalf, when their terms expire and are up for re-election.  Warren Buffet recently made a public statement how he could end the deficit in 5 minutes, by passing a law that says any time the deficit exceeds GDP by 3% all sitting members of Congress are in-eligible for re-election, which would DEFINITIELY Resolve many issues, but the likeliness of that happening is not likely.  Therefore, we MUST count on the Men and Women of Congress to work rapidly together to create and vote an acceptable solution into law to ease the economic uncertainty of the great nation we call The United States of America.

Since the United States of America is populated by more than 312.8 million people according to the 2012 census and there are only 535 Men and Women of Congress, it is time we as Americans DEMAND a resolution.  Although they are guaranteed a paycheck while elected with a pension and medical benefits for life, we the taxpayers, manufactures, retailers, construction trades, technology industries, automobile industry, hospitality industries, etc NEED ECONOMIC CERTAINTY, NOT UNCERTAINTY in order for businesses to flourish and provide jobs to the MAJORITY of the U.S. population.  Instead of holding Americans hostage while Congress fumbles with personal and narrow minded visions, make some compromises so a solution can be made and the lives of Americans can be taken off hold, and rejuvenate strength within the U.S. Economy.  We are counting on you Congress (Hostage Negotiators) to talk out a solution. We can not afford a recession caused by lack of compromise from elected officials.  As a Fiscal Cliff still looms over our heads for March, it is only with your laborious task that a solution be made to avoid such disaster.



Friday, December 14, 2012

American Made Holiday Gifts

With Christmas fast approaching, have you done your part to support American Made products.  While many people still have some shopping left to do, I urge you to actively try to buy American Made.  Having surprised myself this holiday season, I have found many products that are Made in the U.S.A. and many products that were not.  Although it sometimes feels like an impossible challenge to buy American Made products, I promise you it can be achieved.  What I have found to be most helpful is take the list of gifts still left to buy, then Googled “American Made________,”  Then I find out where they are sold locally, so I can go pick them up and support our local economy.  In my endeavor this holiday season to buy products produced in the United States I have been pleasantly surprised to find many American Made brands, that I plan to continue purchasing from.

As a producer of American Made Store Fixtures and constantly trying to compete with mass production store fixtures from overseas, I can assure you I understand the frustration for finding American Made products.  Although a challenge, by doing your part, it does have an impact on the economy, supports American jobs, and will help bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States.

In addition, by limiting how much we purchase from abroad we can close the gap from the amount we import to the amount we export.  As a nation that was built on infrastructure and producing products domestically, we have skewed from our founders vision, but need to rejoice around the foundation and rebuild what we have let slip.  By increasing GDP (Gross Domestic Product), we will increase U.S. jobs, equalize the global marketplace, and help rebuild our economy.  With an increase in the amount of Americans working, and American companies paying taxes in the United States, it also will help pay down the nations extraordinary debt as well.

In an effort beyond patriotism, buying locally and buying American Made goods is vital for the long term success of our nation.  Having personally made a vow to support American Made goods, I have realized the challenge, but embrace the opportunity to help this great nation and get excited when I find that Made in the U.S.A proudly stamped on the item or package.

So with little time left before Christmas and many Holiday Celebrations ahead, I ask you to please make a diligent effort to support American Made products.  With products like Ocean Tamer Bean Bags, Scorpion Gourmet Hot Sauce, among thousands of other American made products, there are many products to complete that gift list and support American Made products built by people like you and I right here in the United States of America.

I would like to “Thank You” in advance for doing your part to support Made in America products, and may you have a Wonderful Christmas and Holiday Season.    

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What is Causing the Increase in Poor Stock Performance?

As we march ahead into the Holiday Season, with Black Friday and Cyber Monday now past, I sit back and ponder some thought.  Although Black Friday Sales are said to be down for most retailers, while showing an overall increase in sales for the entire weekend of about 9%, and some reports of 30% increases for Cyber Monday from retailers across the United States, What is causing poor stock performance?

Every month I track 29 stocks which consist of a wide variety of retailers and various product categories.  In addition, I also track Sweet Crude Oil to see if stocks are being directly affected by oil prices.  This week as I tracked the stocks, I was pleasantly surprised to see that of the 29 stocks, 24 had a decrease in stock value from last month.

Although I would have speculated with the perception that an increase in sales would add some reassurance for potential shareholders, I am surprised to see the opposite response in stock values.  As I looked at the value of oil per barrel, it has fallen $7 a barrel since October which should increase consumer confidence and loosen the grip of some hard earned dollars for goods and services.  In addition, as I look at oil prices, they are actually the lowest they have been since June.  While there still is some global turmoil, with little chance of needing American military intervention, that should have little affect on the immediate stock values as well.

As I narrow down what could be causing many of these stocks to deflate in value from last month, I have also concluded that upper executive management decisions or marketing changes are not the cause.

Since people are spending, unemployment is falling, and home sales are on a rise, the only other reason I can conclude for the stocks falling is due to future projections beginning in 2013.  Although it appears sales are going to power through the end of the year finishing retail numbers out stronger than 2011, with some uncertainty of the near future, stocks are not mirroring sales.  With a slew of new taxes to be imposed in January, with both personal and corporate pocketbooks to be affected, one can only conclude that this is the cause for the immediate stock value decreases.  In prior months, it is likely that people purchased stocks which drove the increase in stock value due to Presidential Election Projections, which likely is not the outcome they had wished for.

Despite the outcome of the election, I feel confident this is likely the cause for investor uncertainty and for the stock value decreases.  Since there is much instability for what impact these imposed taxes could have on the economy, I believe people are holding steady until things are presented more clearly.

So what is causing the increase in poor stock performance?  It is most likely the outcome of the election and investor uncertainty for what could begin in 2013.  Although it should be of no surprise, once people are impacted by the imposed taxes, it could have an affect on expendable income and consumer confidence, which directly relates to corporate spending on capital improvements and profit sharing.  With many unknowns for what 2013 holds, the safest investment option is holding onto and preserving what you have until a better educated decision is available.  Since we can narrow all of the other reasons for the stocks falling in value, this would be the best explanation I can conclude for its cause, and hope that the future flourishes with economic growth.   

Monday, November 19, 2012

How Will ObamaCare Affect Economic Recovery?

While the end of 2012 is fast approaching, few people have a clue what 2013 has entail.  Since ObamaCare is to go active in January, we must be prepared for the fallout that this could cause.  Although some people believe ObamaCare is “FREE”, one must remember Nothing in Life is Free and actually with the imposed policy we will all have to reach deep in our pockets to pay for President Obama’s Health Care Policy.  Having heard some preliminary cost figures around $3500 a year per taxpayer no matter if you are an employee at McDonald's or an Orthopedic Surgeon, it will affect each and everyone.  In addition to the imposed cost involved, it is extremely likely with the imposed compliance regulations and employer mandate taxes that a reduction in jobs and less business expansion will occur.

ObamaCare will affect the economy, but not in a positive light.  Mandating additional taxes, when the economy is not fully recovered from the deep recession that has left many people’s pockets empty, is a disaster waiting to happen.  With many people still struggling to survive and then having their paycheck whacked to pay for this healthcare policy, it could cause a financial catastrophe similar to the Great Depression.  Other nations have tried centralized heath care using similar lingo to the way ObamaCare is written, but all of them have failed. 

Although each and everyone will be affected by ObamaCare, those in the lower class and lower middle class will be affected the most by the new policy.  With roughly $3500 a year coming off your paycheck, it will affect an employee at McDonald's more than an Orthopedic Surgeon.  Since inflation won’t rise high enough to help equalize the cost increase for health care, it is bound to adjust your spending budget.  Less cash to spend creates lower consumer confidence, therefore less spending of expendable income, and spending is what generates growth. 

By now, you can probably see that you are going to be affected by ObamaCare, but it’s too late to do anything other than endure the pain we all will be affected by starting in January.  Whether you are in manufacturing, retail, the automotive industry, or the hospitality industry, everyone will be affected.

Is this the jobs plan President Obama had in mind?  It is estimated that ObamaCare could result in 800,000 fewer U.S. jobs, and add trillion of dollars in debt for future generations to pay for.

Because ObamaCare imposes many regulations on physicians, many doctors are considering no longer accepting government health programs.  Since Medicaid only reimburses doctors 56 percent of the market rate for medical procedures, and with an increase of 18 million additional people to the program, it is super unfavorable for doctors to accept government health programs.  Not only is ObamaCare bad for doctors, it is also bad for seniors as well because doctors they previously visited may no longer accept the government programs.  Although many people believe doctors make too much money, many people forget the extreme costs involved to become a doctor, or the medical malpractice insurance that is very costly, or the frivolous law suits many doctors face.  Unfortunately, with all of those factors, many doctors don’t make that much money per year for the amount of stress and headache they endure to save lives.

So, how will ObamaCare affect our economy?  Not good.  I would suspect that we will see an increase in foreclosures again, debt will continue to rise astronomically, growth will cease, unemployment will increase, and our economy could fall beyond the impact of the recession, and that we will be left with a giant economic mess for future generations to clean up.

Increasing taxes does not generate economic growth, and distribution of wealth does not create incentive to overachieve.  Distribution of wealth rewards mediocrity and poor performance, and creates a nation of stagnant growth.  So as the end of 2012 comes near, be prepared to open your wallets, and wait for the fallout that will come from the Centralized Health Care policy known as ObamaCare.  It’s not if the affects of ObamaCare come, it’s when the affects of ObamaCare come, Be Prepared and Have a Plan.  Although I would like to think that ObamaCare is a positive thing, unfortunately when you dig into the facts of the policy, it has Failure written all over it.  To find out more about ObamaCare, here’s a resource I thought was interesting from The Heritage Foundation.