Mattel Inc. hasn't always made most of its toys in China and Mexico. Until 2002, the company had a big injection molding plant in Murray, Ky., which was the company's last U.S. manufacturing plant. Do you think it would be interesting to ask the former workers there what they think about the quality problems that Mattel has experienced lately with its Chinese-made toys? The Paducah, Ky., Sun thought so, and it has a story today quoting two former managers and a long-time product engineer on the subject of safety. You don't have to read between the lines of this story to see how they feel -- they say the company always preached safety when it made products in Kentucky, but now it appears that Mattel has grown lax.
Don Futrell, who worked at the Murray plant for 28 years -- 10 as a product engineer -- said safety [in Murray] was paramount. "Every batch of coating that we put on a toy had to be tested and basically put into a holding area and not released until a series of test results showed levels of various heavy metals weren't exceeded," he said. Futrell said the recalls are a bitter pill for former Murray workers, who have tried to move on with their lives. "I think most people in this area kind of look it as a slap because you lose a plant, and now you have all these massive recalls," he said.The story of how Mattel ran into quality and safety problems would make a good business book. And a good place to begin the story would be with these guys: the managers, engineers and workers who made Mattel toys in the United States before the company decided to outsource most of its manufacturing.