China, toys, dog food and lead

With all the trouble in the news over the last year regarding quality and contamination issues with Chinese-made products, isn’t it interesting who is silent while China takes repeated hits over their manufacturing of toys, food products, additives, medicines, etc?

  • U.S. manufacturers and their trade groups.
  • Canadian manufacturers and their trade groups.
  • Mexican manufacturers and their trade groups
  • Congress (yeah, there’s been a little saber rattling about hearings “in a few months”, but that’s about it)

And so on.

Why is that?

Seems like it’s an ideal time to get off your duff and do some marketing.

Got any idea why manufacturing trade groups, contract manufacturers, OEM plants or SOMEONE isn’t promoting the positives of bringing manufacturing back to North America?

Positives like:

  • unused capacity
  • Better safety and oversight (Hmm, do they want that?)
  • Less hassles with shipping by virtue of avoiding time delays in ports, shortages of containers (and container allocations), and shipping time from China.
  • Political karma with politicians, unions and others.

Sure, there is the cost thing. Supposedly it’s cheaper to do business there. Yet the people I talk to who have substantial investments in China all say the same things: Startup costs are substantial. There’s a continuous problem with quality, getting what you asked for, payoffs and other corruption, differing thought processes on what “good” is and what “on time” is, and similar hassles. These comments come from regular people doing business there, not pundits or politicians. And yes, some do so despite these problems because of the cost savings.

Maybe they don’t want to write off their startup costs. Or maybe they figure the cost of a few lead lawsuits and being in the news every week is worth it. Or maybe they figure that the hassles of doing business in China are less trouble than dealing with the unions.

Do I expect everyone to pull their manufacturing out and come back here? No, but it is surprising to hear nothing in the way of attempts.

All I hear is crickets (for those outside warm climes, that means “a nice quiet night whose silence is only broken by the sound of crickets chirping”) – with one exception: The AFL/CIO.

With that one exception, the silence is oddly similar to the lack of PR and marketing from organic dog food manufacturers when the melamine dog food thing happened. Why is that?