America likes to celebrate America. Look no further than bumpers across the nation. In general, we are proud to live here, proud to fly our colors, prouder still to enjoy libations and start chants on July 4th and proud to call the United States of America home.
In light of recent, and not so recent, events, it is clear that, as a nation, we have plenty of work to do. We, as individuals, are having many enlightening, uncomfortable and productive conversations offline about our respective roles.
But, we do feel it is important to highlight the fact that, unlike many of our industry compatriots, we manufacture our technology right here….in America. We assemble by hand, fiddle and fix things in our facilities, quality control with our eyes and ship it out with our effort. And that, we think, is certainly something to celebrate.
In an economy that is increasingly globalized, manufacturing often seeks the path of least resistance. In this analogy, that path is cost. And, for a business in this highly competitive market, saving a buck where you can, might make the difference between keeping the lights on or not. But, as with most things, offshoring comes with some tradeoffs – and it is those tradeoffs that we are not willing to sacrifice. Namely quality and value. Let us explain.
Quality is the bottom line for any business. Ask Yvon Chouinard (look him up if that does not ring a bell). As a business scales and grows, maintaining the quality of your goods becomes difficult. Human error increases as more human beings are introduced to the process. By then moving the means of production offsite and then off-continent, the oversight and control of that quality is completely removed from your hands. Granted, there are many successful businesses that import their technology, brand it as their own, and sell it to happy consumers. The model can work. But, as you may know, quality is hard to gauge over the internet. There is no substitute for holding a product in your hands, plugging it in and testing it, to ensure its quality. We pride ourselves on the excellence of our product, therefore it is imperative that we control its manufacture.
Why else do we continue to manufacture our product domestically when we could do so much cheaper a little further from home? Yes, we like to talk about it and therefore it is good marketing…but we also like the impact it has. We manufacture our boards in Texas, and in doing so, we are creating jobs, investing money, and providing opportunities to the communities and places where we live. By keeping our money here, we are committing to improving the lives of our fellow citizens. One of our core business tenets is the idea of “local”. Even in our corporate policies and our philanthropy, buying, investing, and giving locally gives us the most effect for our dollar. And, keeping our manufacturing process here at home is an extension of that ideal. It Is not so much rooted in patriotic pride, or a belief that we are somehow better than other places, rather the idea that we have a responsibility to look out for our fellow citizens, and provide opportunity where we can.
As Independence Day approaches, it is the idea of compassion that we would like to celebrate. It is not a time to spew hubris and flash symbols, but instead a time to look critically at ourselves and our habits and make improvements – encourage each other to be better and do better.
We believe in the potential of this country, and its citizens, and thus feel a responsibility to keep investing in it.
So, we will.