Shift Changes: Keen footwear steps up U.S. production
During last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama said that his blueprint for economic recovery begins with American manufacturing, and called upon American companies “to bring manufacturing back.” He also demonstrated a similar fervor for "Keeping it Made in America" during a January manufacturing forum in which he applauded companies that have chosen to “insource” their goods, and urged others to take part in this job-creating trend.
Fortunately, it seems that American manufacturers agree with the president—and are stepping up their efforts to keep at least some of their production in the U.S.
According to NPR, one such company is Portland, Oregon-based Keen footwear, which opened up a factory in Portland in 2010. Though Keen still manufacturers many of its products in China, CEO James Curleigh views domestic production as an increasingly lucrative endeavor:
"We can't bring every job back that's left our shores," he said. "But right now, it's getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive."
Curleigh tells NPR's Robert Siegel that duty rates, transportation costs, intellectual property and development costs all played a role in deciding to open a plant in the U.S. rather than using a plant in China. He says that if you look at just the money, the move makes sense.
Keen’s Portland plant manufactures a new steel-toed boot line that Curleigh says he’s proud to make in America, and that customers seeking American-made goods are happy to buy:
"Just the fact that we have an effort ... that creates product in America I think is important," Curleigh says. "It's the classic 'One small step for insourcing in America and one giant leap for Keen.' "
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