It comes as no surprise. The tool and die industry in most of the United States is struggling to stay alive.
Most of the larger companies are taking their work overseas, mostly to China, and are killing the small shops in the United States. It is a problem that I don´t have an immediate answer for, but I know what got us where we are today, and that was unity.
If we hope to recapture this market, all the plastic mold producers are going to be forced to band together and send a message loud and strong that we can´t exist without the work that is now going to China, Taiwan, Canada, Italy and the list goes on. Plastic mold shops everywhere should establish guidelines and realize while it might mean less work now, it will slow up production to these companies that choose to take the work to foreign suppliers.
U.S. manufacturers that are feeling this crunch should increase the price for mold and tooling repairs on products that were not made in the United States. Soon the big firms that reached for “The Golden Ring” will find out, OK, we saved thousands getting it built, but the cost to keep it running is killing us. How will these companies keep up production when the molds have to be shipped back to the original producer and weeks are being lost in transit, and shipping and handling charges are mounting?
Our company sees the work that is built outside the United States. It's not better than ours, it was only cheaper because in one form or another, these molds were subsidized either by our own firms or by the governments of these countries. These firms bring it to us and ask that we make repairs and engineering changes and do it as quick as we can so they can return it to production.
While we all wait and hope for our legislators to do something, jobs are being lost and plants are closing. Machinery auctions are increasing every day because these businesses are folding mostly because they tried to keep up with the demanding market and overextended themselves to update their equipment in order to be competitive. It has to stop somewhere!
Eventually the big boys are going to feel it, when people are out of work they won´t be buying vacuum cleaners, toasters, automobiles, hedge trimmers and all the products that have been produced with cheap labor abroad. How many of these appliances and products were bought by our competitors in China, Japan, Taiwan, Canada and all the countries we are supporting, and what price did they pay for our product?
I am not advocating unions, I am advocating some unity among the mold manufacturers. It is time to realize the only way to stop the flow of work out of this country is to send a loud and clear message to companies that are using foreign labor and let them know we are fed up.
Somebody might have the answer. I don´t know what it is for certain, but no action will never create reaction. Let´s hear from all the mold producers and see what they feel is the answer.