The Labor Day Holiday has once again come and gone (which seems to happen faster and faster every year) and I can’t help but reflect on what this holiday represents and on what it means to be a “Made in America” product in today’s global economy. As Americans, it often seems like we are both the biggest fans of the idea of keeping things “Made in America,” but also our greatest enemy.
The other day I was watching the evening news with Diane Sawyer, who was informing parents how they could save thousands of dollars on “back-to-school” shopping for their children. The segment focused heavily on online shopping and featured several companies with names that even Diane had trouble pronouncing. Not once did she discuss if the products were made in America (which they were not), and not one word was said about the product’s overall quality, value or durability– it all came down to finding the cheapest price.
Ironically, the next day an email was sent to me that featured some of the first-ever color photos from 1942, featuring American workers and the war effort. These pictures highlighted many war-time manufacturing positions, including iconic “Rosie the Riveter,” female workforce pictures. This generation of Americans, often referred to as our “greatest generation,” were so loyal to, and proud of this country, and so grateful for the freedoms and privileges uniquely enjoyed by Americans, that the thought of sending their hard-earned dollars overseas never crossed their minds - regardless of price differences.
Today, our obsession with price seems to outweigh any sense of loyalty that previous generations had for this country. When we slip into the selfish “only price matters” mindset, we lose sight of the long-term affects our buying decisions will have on our economy and our local neighborhoods. Even Diane Sawyer forgot the special ABC episode she hosted two years ago - when unemployment hit an all-time record - highlighting the fact that if each person in America purchased just ten percent more American made products instead of foreign products, it would create hundreds of thousands of new American jobs. Moving forward, it will be hard to maintain all of the great privileges and benefits we have as Americans if we continue to send our dollars to countries that pay their workers twenty dollars a week and deny their citizens many of the civil liberties and services we enjoy every day as Americans.
Next year Ritz-Craft will celebrate our 60th Anniversary as a family owned and operated, “Made in America” company. My brother and I are extremely proud of this milestone, our unique heritage and all of the people that have helped Ritz-Craft achieve success. We have survived because of the loyalty our employees, builder network and customers have towards the Ritz-Craft name and products; a loyalty that we work very hard to maintain. I am proud to say that we scrutinize where every piece of material that goes into our product is produced and strive to use 100 percent American Made. From the new sales and service vehicles we drive, to the t-shirts, dress shirts, hats, coats and other apparel that we wear with a Ritz-Craft logo - they are all made right here in the USA.
So, the next time you’re in the store or considering a large purchase, I hope you stop to consider how your purchases could potentially affect your local community and our great country. “Craftsmen Building the American Dream,” is more than just a tag line for Ritz-Craft, it is a mantra that I truly believe in and one that inspires me each morning as I come to work.
I hope you had a wonderful Labor Day, and I thank you for your continued loyalty, support and business.