For manufacturing businesses in the U.S., exports can be a critical component for growth. By tapping into new markets, American manufacturers can expand their businesses, adding high-paying jobs that help grow the American middle class.
However, exporting to highly competitive markets such as Mexico and China, which have traditionally been strong sources of outsourced labor, can be difficult.
In a video from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there were three companies that were highlighted for managing to export to such difficult markets. One of these companies was Marlin Steel.
From Drowning in Imports to Making Exports
Years ago, the threat of Chinese competitors who could sell commodity baskets for less than the cost of the steel needed to make them once drove Marlin Steel to the brink of extinction. Today, things are a bit different.
Rather than being threatened by Chinese imports, Marlin Steel now exports custom steel baskets to companies in countries around the globe… including China. In his interview with the Chamber of Commerce, Drew Greenblatt, Marlin’s President, noted Marlin’s exporting of products to China as “the thing I’m most proud about.”
How did this remarkable turn of events come about? A large part of the reason why Marlin Steel now exports custom steel baskets to companies in China is that Marlin doesn’t compete based solely on price.
Marlin’s clients, both foreign and domestic, require a certain amount of precision in the steel wire baskets and custom sheet metal fabrications that they use in their production processes. In many cases, part tolerances for containers used by these clients is measured in thousandths of an inch. This is something that cheap manual labor cannot easily guarantee.
To meet the demand for precision-engineered custom metal forms, Marlin Steel uses advanced manufacturing automation combined with highly-trained production engineers to create “Quality Engineered Quick” for clients around the globe.
Even companies in China need high-precision baskets that can consistently meet production tolerances. However, using manual labor to make a steel basket can produce part variances of several inches from one part to the next. Needless to say, this is an unacceptable margin of error for high-precision applications.
Now, when companies in China need an order of precision-crafted custom parts washing baskets for their parts finishing processes, they call Marlin Steel.
As Drew says in his interview with the Chamber of Commerce, “We use American labor, American robots and American steel and we export to China. We’re doing this because our equipment and our people ar so top-notch that we can make a higher level of quality that you can’t get from a typical Chinese vendor. So it’s worth it for Chinese companies to buy from us in Baltimore and put it on a boat all the way to Shanghai.”
By focusing on making products with extraordinary precision, Marlin is able to export goods to the country that once flooded American markets with ultra-cheap commodity baskets.
How Important Are Exports to American Manufacturers?
Being able to export manufactured goods to foreign markets can be critical to success for many American manufacturers. As the Chamber of Commerce states on their website, “Nearly 40 million American jobs depend on trade.”
Let that number sink in. 40 million jobs depend on trade. Without the ability to export to other countries, millions of workers in the U.S. would lose their livelihoods.
Considering that, according to the CoC, “98% of the 300,000 U.S. companies that export their products are small and medium-sized companies,” not being able to export to other countries would be a tremendous blow to the Amercan middle class.
By being able to make headway into foreign markets such as China, American manufacturers can build their businesses while growing American jobs and the U.S. economy.
Marlin Steel is proud to be a custom metal basket manufacturer that’s worth an 11,000 mile trip for Chinese manufacturers.