Import vs. Made in America!

on Monday, February 23, 2015 8:20:00 AM

The choice to buy imported goods vs. American made is a huge decision in today’s IT infrastructure market. Many factors influence a consumer’s choice. At Kendall Howard, we obviously have a bias toward this topic, but there is good reason. Typically when people choose an imported product over an American made product, it’s because of the price. And with today’s economy, price is one of the most important aspects in just about any job – not just in the IT industry but everywhere. And sometimes sacrificing things, such as quality and availability, lead us to make the ‘import’ choice. Today I will share a few reasons why Kendall Howard is so adamant about keeping 100% of our manufacturing here in the USA!

  • QUALITY – You’ll hear us say it, time and time again, but it’s the truth. The quality of products imported from other countries can often vary significantly. You can usually tell by the price if you’re paying for a product that comes from a country with extremely low labor costs or no regulations, or from a country that produces good quality products. Cars are a great example. People buy cars from all over the world. Some purchase from foreign countries for the expert engineering and top quality manufacturing process, while others purchase for the price tag. And…like they say…you get what you pay for. IT infrastructure products are no different. Buying an imported cabinet from China for $50.00 will end up being $50.00 of disappointment. Don’t waste your time or money – choose wisely.

  • CONSISTENCY – Another downfall of many imported IT racks and cabinets is the consistency. Many imported products may be purchased from one company, however that company could “farm out” the work to numerous manufacturing facilities around the area. This means that while products may look the same, they are not actually identical. Designs could somewhat vary between locations, as well as the level of quality of materials. The paint type and thickness could even change per product making for multiple inconsistencies in just one product. We think that is just not worth it.

  • AVAILABILITY – Lead times are another common issue with imported products. The term “availability” will vary between countries as we all produce and work at different paces. (Not to mention the different time zones might make it difficult to track someone down to find out just when your product will be shipped.) What is considered short lead times to us might seem outrageous in other countries and inevitably not feasible. Overseas shipments can take anywhere from 3-8 weeks or even longer, leaving you helplessly waiting for your product to arrive. Whereas products made here could be shipped within just 2-3 weeks (and sometimes just 2-3 days when you buy from Kendall Howard!) Now that’s significant!

  • CUSTOMER SERVICE/WARRANTY ISSUES – Regardless if you choose to purchase imported products or not, having convenient customer service and quick answers to your warranty questions is definitely needed. When buying an offshore product, many times the reseller, or whomever the consumer buys from, has to go back to the manufacturing facility to try and resolve any defects you may have with the product or discuss the warranty. This type of support from overseas factories is most of the times nonexistent, and often you, the customer, are left to “deal with it” and move on. And again, you’ll have to deal with various time zones and work speeds that could ultimately make the task a much bigger issue for you.

  • LABOR FACILITIES – We feel that one of the most important considerations between American made vs. imported is the unsafe and cruel working conditions that many face in other countries. Check out this YouTube video we found for example: “ Why U.S. is Not Competitive with China.” It shows a factory in China and the unsafe practices they have. As you watch, you’ll see a press forming metal. Now that may not sound dangerous, but just wait. This video shows several workers sitting INSIDE THE PRESS! What?! The workers sit and place the part and they actually have to bend down to ensure their heads are clear from the press coming down to form the materials. Can you even imagine what damage that machine could do to your head, hand or entire body?! Worse than that – these workers are putting their lives in danger for probably less than $0.25 an hour. Many Americans wouldn’t even stop and pick up $0.25 off the street, let alone put their lives in danger for it! Because the labor laws are so nonexistent in countries like China, or they are just not adhered to, many US companies will try and regulate the environment of the manufacturing facilities they are using to produce products overseas. They will stipulate the maximum hours employees can work per day, per week, and so on. However, as stated earlier, these places will farm out to hundreds of factories all around their nation. And there’s no guarantee that these guidelines and restrictions are enforced or even relayed to them. That means products could be left in the hands of a child who has to work seven days a week for more than 16 hours a day, and that’s just not something we’re comfortable working with.

Those are just five reasons why we say American made is the way to go! It’s not just to keep money in the house or make more of a profit; it actually does the opposite. Kendall Howard’s dedication to keeping products solely made in the USA but still be competitive in price has forced us to get creative and develop more efficient manufacturing processes and be able to operate at lower margins. Other US rack, cabinet, and IT infrastructure manufacturers that have started to import some of their products do this because they are “unable” to compete on price and that turns into a slippery slope. Once you start importing part of your product, it gradually becomes easier to slowly turn over your entire line to offshore facilities because of the higher profit and margins. But at Kendall Howard, money isn’t everything. Ensuring you with top quality, efficiently made products in a safe environment is!

We understand that sometimes there is no choice but to buy imported products. (Take our cell phones for example. We can’t even fathom living without them, so we don’t really have a choice where they come from.) But the next time you have the choice to buy American made, please take a second to consider what you would really be paying for! Not only are you choosing peace of mind with an American made product, but you are also choosing not to support the inhumane practices found in overseas manufacturing facilities.


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