“Made in the USA” can face hurdles like the lack of upstream supply base in the U.S.
That's exactly what happened to DQB Industries, a family-owned company founded in 1887, according to a recent Reuters report.
The company — its formal name is Detroit Quality Brush Manufacturing Co. Inc. — makes brushes in Livonia, Mich., with raw materials from overseas — wood from Sri Lanka, and bristles from Sri Lanka or Mexico, because, the report said, “the American suppliers it once used had all gone out of business.”
But in order to qualify for Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s “Made in the USA” program, the products need to be not just assembled in the U.S., but also manufactured from raw materials sourced domestically.
Therefore, even though DQB's products are manufactured in the Detroit suburb, they don't meet the criteria that Wal-Mart defines for “Made in the USA.”
Absence of upstream supply is a stern reality that's out of the control of manufacturers. And there's no quick and easy solution — the broken link on the supply chain won't be restored overnight.
But Wal-Mart has a tip for companies that struggle with domestic sourcing difficulties — switch to plastics!
The Reuters report said a Wal-Mart buyer suggested DQB return to pitch samples of plastic brushes.
That makes sense from a supply chain point of view. American-made plastics are abundantly available and price competitive in the global marketplace.
DQB is considering it. The company said it may make a small investment and convert some extra capacity to produce plastic brushes with a Wal-Mart-approved “Made in USA” label.
That's probably a wise decision.
And I'm just relieved they are not abandoning their wood and bristle brushes. Because if they did, consumers who prefer natural-material brushes would lose a domestic purchase option and might have to buy imports instead. That would be quite ironic, wouldn't it?