Executive Strategy


As Manufacturing Changes, Where Do We Go from Here?


I am from Ohio; my Dad worked for over forty years as an accountant is a large automobile manufacture.  For the community these are not just car companies, they are major employers who build an ecosystem for jobs and sustainability.  When they close those incomes are lost and so are the local taxes and the two hundred other business there to support it. Over the last two decades it has become more cost effective to manufacture overseas and to use highly skilled robots than it is to manufacture in the US with human beings.  So, what happens to the people and the towns that depend on these corporations? Let’s remember changes cannot be made overnight. Education on new technical machines is not easy; relocating people comes at such a great pain and bringing in new business is not an easy transition.  

As we examine these problems, we should look at reeducating the workforce as we are seeing the decline. These new highly technical machines take years to master and if we start employees on learning for the future, we can build a more tech-savvy workforce.

Can we transfer these people to other plants? Yes – relocation is an answer but keep in mind the ramifications to the town. We must list our priorities: people, community and then the future; they all are important. Without people, we have no community and without the community the future is very bleak.

Bringing in new companies is a viable option, but these opportunities again take years to come to fruition. Companies are leaving because of the cost and the lack of demand. In the global economy, the market dictates what can be sold and where things are produced. The Midwest was once one of the best places in the world to manufacture. The hardworking people, and relatively low cost of living was a pure advantage. Now in the worldwide view, manufacturing in America is expensive.

There are not easy resolutions, they are actually very hard problems that will take years to figure out. Let’s start looking at answers now, not as these plants close.  

By Dane Flanigan

Dane Flanigan is a business consultant who build strategies to help companies increase sales. www.DaneFlanigan.com