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I read a most interesting article about some movement in the return of manufacturing jobs to the US (Forbes Magazine – “Is the Re-shoring of Manufacturing a Trend or a Trickle?” ).   It brought up some interesting points like effect on dollar valuation, smaller customer orders and shortened product life as reasons that were compelling manufacturers to return to the home turf.  Maybe I am constantly in skeptic mode and I couldn’t help but feel that thinks like transportation and quality were simply overlooked.  We hear a small undertone about customer dissatisfaction and how its impacting their decisions on both providers and the consideration for returning home.  Yet no mention is made about the real reason… the why?  We have observed time and time again that the reason lies in a lack of a balanced engagement relationship.  Old tired single point mentalities try to dive the relationship when it has to be cooperative (simply because of cultures).  So regardless of why work is being considered or is coming home has little to do with the value its the general failings that we have had to engage productive outcomes.   Furthermore nothing much was even mentioned about how these so called companies were going to bring their products back online domestically.  Many got rid of manufacturing assets when they made the jump so I can only guess that it will be to acquire products (or services from elsewhere within the US).

(It is sort of like when I wrote this entry I had a bit of a technological glitch, I completed it and posted it but for some reason I only got a small portion of the piece.  This has now lead me to go back and re-complete what I had already started.  Now before any of you experts tell me what I should have done, rest assured I did auto and manual save on this but for whatever reason the God’s behind the scene were not cooperating.   In any case let me not digress further.)

What I found is that in similar situations that the return of manufacturing never quite happened.  Some for the reasons that I mention but also the loss of both employees and skills for those employees.  Going home, as some would say, never seems quite the same as before… no matter how wishful that we might want it to be.

Since we have a bit of a glimpse as to the outgoing tide effect in the West will it be the same in the East?  Having worked and lived in Asia most of my adult life I would have to say no.  First and foremost assets are seldom disposed of in a wholesale trade sort of way, they get redeployed and realigned but never disposed of.  It has allot to do with how much effort went into getting them that they simply aren’t given up.  Even when totally worn out and ready for a scrap heap they are kept alive and producing and producing.  Secondly, Eastern companies (and workforce) is resourceful… having learned how to live on minimums they are able to quickly able to return to those levels to sustain an existence.   This is not to say that they don’t prize achievement, simply they know how to overcome most obstacles that in the West can’t even be imagined.  Finally, they are deal makers.  From early times as merchants they knew how to build, market and sell their wares.  Its in their roots and thus deals are constantly being made in and around the West.  If anything the downturn has made them more keenly aware that depending on one market is not a sound business decision.   The outgoing tide in the East is apt to produce some new and unforeseen treasures.  Whereas the West chose to take a divesting approach.  Not that there is anything wrong with this, but if you don’t abate the problem to which a solution is taken then the problem will reoccur.  This is where I feel we have to be quite careful today because those original reasons for shifting work offshore have not been resolved.  Thus they will continue to plague businesses and their profitability.

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