What does it mean to be American Made?
Most folks today will shop based on price. Its a fact of life what while we all work for a living in the USA, our money goes further if we buy Chinese. Big Box stores are filled to overflowing with “Made in China”. Unapologetically. I would be a hypocrite if I complained, as I do it myself. Most people simply cannot afford to pay top dollar for everyday items when there is a cheaper alternative. For many mundane things we have in our homes, that see little hard use, why would you bother? You hit the store, find an acceptable level of basic quality for the lowest price, and you buy it. When it comes to mundane everyday items it makes sense, right?
For many of us we no longer have a choice… so we dont look for choices. So many of our factories that gave us choices died back in the 1980’s, so there is little reason to expect it. Yet, there is a resurgence going on in America right now. People are realising that there is a reason to spend more, to get more. More quality, more longevity, which in turn means more value. You can buy a chinese wood splitting axe at the hardware store for $15… or a US made quality axe for $35. The USA axes are sold out. Why?
Because when given a choice, many of us want to buy something of actual value that we know will last years, or a lifetime. You see this attitude in the tool market, and you see it in the firearms market. Good tools.. good guns and accessories cost more than their chinese counterparts, but they give better quality and value. They age better, they retain their resale value, because underneath it all, most of us understand that American Made is itself a trademark that means something. Its unspoken, but an agreed upon foundation of our economy.
So while many will continue to buy inexpensive items made from overseas sources, they are doing so in order to save up to invest in American made products they take a pride of ownership in. Notice I said invest… when you buy American products made by quality companies, you are investing your money in something you know will not be worthless a year from now. A dime a dozen at any flea market stand.
Being in the firearms industry, I have lost count of how many new American craftsmen have hung their plank and started making niche, quality hand craft items. From holsters and other fine leather goods to knife makers. Gunsmiths creating new designs, or bringing a unique perspective to an old industry. And yes, even us, grip makers.
What does it mean though, for us.. from this side of the counter to be “Made in America”? Well, from my experience, I can tell you… its harder than it looks. It requires more time, less profit, and more investment to maintain a true Made in the USA product line. It means only sourcing materials from US sources, from US factories, from US manufacturers. It means paying more for everything, and sometimes, waiting longer lead times, in order to get what you need.
There are 100 factories in China.. and distributors in the USA, with shipping containers full of cheap resources, cheaper products, outright copies.. or raw materials with dubious quality specs. Finished chinese gun parts cost less than our raw materials before we’ve even turned on machine, or paid an hour of labor. But our product remains in demand because we strive to bring a unique, high quality hand crafted item to customers. Something designed to last for years, and give you pride of ownership.
Its hard to make a manufactured product in the USA and have it be quality.. and fast… and cheap. The old adage being, you can have two, but not three. We focus on the first. We build our product here in Flint Michigan, from American sources of raw materials, with our own craftsmen and a close family of vendors who also follow a similar ethic, because we know you cannot fake it. Made in America does mean something beyond jobs or employment numbers. Its about a vibrant industry filled with exciting products that no mass manufacturing facility in China can ever reproduce.