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Archive for January, 2009

My wife is currently expecting our second child.  We already have a 2 year old, so we were looking into purchasing a double stroller.  We looked around online quite a bit for something appropriate.  There were some side by side strollers that we thought were ok.  Those were made in China, of course, but were at least less than $200.  We then happened on Bob strollers.  These are higher-end double strollers with a front wheel that turns easily.  The cost was up to nearly $600, so I thought, these might actually be made in USA, right?  Wrong.  It didn’t say anywhere on their website where they were manufactured.  It just says that they ” they took Philip’s [the inventor] invention and turned it into a revolution.”  Nothing about “then we decided to make it in China for pennies and sell it to you for bookoo bucks!”

Here is the email they sent me in response to my inquiry:

______________________________________________

Alex,

Thank you for contacting BOB.  All of our strollers are designed and engineered in Boise, Idaho and manufactured in China.  We take great care in choosing which factories we work with.  We have had a long-term business relationship with the factory we use and routinely check their work to assure our compliance with ASTM safety standards.  We use independent testing labs to ensure our quality standards.

Best Regards,

_________________________________________________

They try to put the best spin they can on it.  Of course they’re going to say it’s safe, high quality, etc.  They certainly can’t say that it’s good for our economy.  I was so rankled by this blase attitude, especially in this time of economic distress, that I sent the reply below to their customer service rep:

Dear ——-,

I am really sad to hear that you don’t make your strollers in the US.  Given the American can-do spirit of Roger and Phillip [the founders], it seemed that it would have been the way to go.  Also, considering that you charge up to $600 for a stroller, does it really cost that much to get the Chinese to make it?  Couldn’t you have made them here and still have charged the same price (not a low price, by any means)?   It seems that Americans are getting a raw deal with manufacturers like yourselves.  Rather than taking the time and making the investment to make your products here, you go the easy route and have someone else do it for you.  Let me tell you, it is just a matter of time before the Chinese cut you out – why bother with a middleman when American shoppers could just go to the source?  I certainly have no sympathy for your corporate profits when they come at the expense of American workers’ jobs.

As the founder of http://www.Madeinusablog.wordpress.com, I will be writing up my experiences and opinions about shopping for strollers and include your site.  I hope that my blog will inspire our legislators to reward companies that do manufacture their products in the US, and penalize ones like yours.

Sincerely,

Alex Kaplan

___________________________________________

I then searched google for made in usa strollers.  Only Evenflo came up, but when I called them, they said that all their strollers are made in China also.  Graco I know to be made in China also.  I don’t understand why we have all these American manufacturers that blithely make their strollers in China.  The Europeans make theirs in their own countries.  MacLaren is still made in the UK and Peg-Perego is proudly made in Italy.  Are we too stupid or too lazy to make our own?  Or is it that our managers and industry leaders are?  I think that it’s definitely the latter.  Our leaders must take a hard stand on this kind of outsourcing that our industrialists have embraced.  Likewise, we must protect our markets from unfair price competition.  I will forward this post to the Obama administration – I hope they read it.

5/24/10 – Here is a very informative and useful email from one of our readers:

I’ve enjoyed reading your blog as I am also obsessed with buying American, or at least from companies who don’t excessively outsource production. My wife and I are expecting a baby girl in August and we’ve been having a terrible time finding a car seat/stroller combo not made in China.

We’d finally settled on a Britax car seat (made in USA of foreign and domestic components) and either a Peg Perego or Inglesina Italian stroller. But as we were looking again to see which model we liked we found out the Teutonia stroller actually had American parts on it. The stroller frame is made in Poland but the detachable baby car seat and its base were made in the USA with foreign and domestic components. The fabric lining is listed as made in Mexico, which we’re okay with all things considered. Even Britax doesn’t make their infant carriers in the US.

The total for car seat, base, and stroller body was $650 after tax which is a lot pricier than a standard Graco. But it’s still cheaper than the comparable Uppababy, Orbit, Buggaboo, and other Chinese made designer strollers. Plus it was much sturdier than every other stroller we tried. No random squeaks or rattles and very stable.

Poland and Mexico aren’t perfect but they should be treating their workers better than Asian countries outside of Japan. And the fact that they’re making some of it in the US is better than any other stroller company out there.

Just thought you’d like to know.

Wayne

Update 6/13/12:

Just bought a Cosco booster seat.  This one says “Made in USA from Domestic and Imported Parts.”  The pad on it is made in China.  Considering that it was only $39, that’s not bad.  My wife got it without checking what was made in USA and assumed they were all made in China.  So I guess we got lucky.

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President, as you mentioned many times in your speech yesterday, we are in the midst of a crisis. The crisis is in large part an economic one. The whole foundation of our economy has become greatly eroded through outsourcing of manufacturing and service jobs, through illegal immigration, and through unconstrained entitlement programs. There are 3 things that you could do immediately to forestall impending disaster and save us a lot of money:

1) Cancel our “free-trade” agreements, such as NAFTA and impose strategic trade policy that promotes American-based industry. Did you know that India has 150% tariffs on imported cars? China is similar. Why do we not have tariffs against their products? We have allowed the liars who benefit from importation to beguile us into believing that lower prices are good for consumers through “globalization.” This is a lie that we have gullibly swallowed. The truth is that prices are irrelevant if the people paying them don’t have jobs. We must protect our manufacturing and services bases or we may as well kiss this country goodbye.

2) Get serious about stopping illegal immigration. When we import illegal foreign labor, what we do is undercut the middle class in this country. This is continuously eroding the middle class and saddling us with uneducated immigrants who are overpopulating our cities and overburdening our infrastructure. It would be so easy to enforce! For one, if you are illegal, you should lose any government benefits you have immediately. It’s a travesty that you ever got them. Second, cities and counties should have no right to flout the federal government’s enforcement of immigration law. Those that do should have severe penalties and their officers removed from office forcibly. If you are not a legal resident of this country, your children should not be allowed to go to school here either. Finally, employers should be seriously forced to comply with immigration law. One other thing that irks me – the idea that if you’re born in this country that you automatically are a citizen. That is another lie that has been given the sheen of truth. It is a distortion of the 14th amendment: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.” How can an illegal alien be subject to the jurisdiction of the United States? They can’t – they’re subject to the jurisdiction of their home country. Therefore their US-born children aren’t citizens either.

3) Entitlement programs have to be restructured completely. Medicare and Medicaid must go. How can we have a system of healthcare where the consumers of the system decide what benefits they receive yet do not feel the cost of their decisions? Wouldn’t we get out of control spending on government healthcare? Yes we would and we have! There are only 2 possible solutions to healthcare reform that would realistically control costs. Either government and even private insurance programs are abolished or the whole system is nationalized. A requirement would be that malpractice lawsuits would have to be abolished, otherwise doctors will always fear being conservative in their testing of patients and would always cave in to any patient’s demands for more service. With an insurance-free system, people would buy healthcare individually from providers who would compete with each other on cost and quality. Hospitals and doctors would offer “specials” and “deals” for certain common procedures and would publish their prices online. This way, people would acutely feel the cost of their decisions and would avoid what they feel is not a good value. The downside is that those with no money would get little or no care.
Nationalizing the system is another option. In such a system, budget decisions would be made top-down, regardless of patients’ and doctors’ demands on the system. Rationing would ensure that everyone would get their equal share of the total pie, but the size of the pie is controlled. The downside of this system is that quality may slide, since providers would be employees of the government.
Which system you support depends on your philosophical outlook on medicine and socialism. If you are more libertarian, you would prefer the first system, whereas if you think that the government should coddle and protect every citizen, regardless of their merit, then you would support socialized medicine. More importantly, one of these systems is necessary to avoid government bankruptcy.

So, President Obama, this is my long-winded suggestion. I hope that you govern wisely. Thanks for supporting Madeinusablog!

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The 2009 Detroit North American Auto Show (Jan. 11-25) displays some really good new models from American auto manufacturers. This is really encouraging for those of us that think that big American auto companies were lost in their own ignorance.
Here is a list of American cars that impressed me:
2011 Chevy Cruize – This car is slated to replace the Pontiac G5 and the Chevy Cobalt. This car will be produced in Lordstown Ohio. It is going to be marketed around the world and should appeal to buyers downgrading from SUV’s who still want to have a handsome, sporty car.

2011 Chevy Cruize

2011 Chevy Cruize

2011 Chevy Cruize

2011 Chevy Cruize


Cadillac Converj – WOW!!! WOW!!! I can’t contain my excitement on this one!!!! This is the sexiest looking American car I probably have EVER SEEN!!!! Have I said wow enough yet? No. Anyway, check out the pics for yourself. This car is also primarily electric with gasoline engine back-up and an all electric range of 40 miles. It is based on the Chevy Volt which is already due out in production at the end of 2010. But this car looks like the hottest thing out there, period, exclamation point! GM has a guaranteed hit with this one. Please, just build it and build it here!
Cadillac Converj Concept Car

Cadillac Converj Concept Car

Cadillac Converj Interior

Cadillac Converj Interior


Another car I’m proud of is the 2010 Ford Taurus. The car has been completely redesigned to be more sporty in design and performance. Ford’s treatment of their best-selling car over 10 years ago was shameful at best. They let it become dowdy, ugly and boring. The new Taurus is a great-looking car and should compete well with the Toyotas and Hondas. It also is a better value for the money.
2010 Ford Taurus

2010 Ford Taurus

2010 Ford Taurus

2010 Ford Taurus


I close runner-up to sexiest car, especially on the interior is the Chrysler 200C EV Concept. This is Chrysler’s version of a Chevy Volt type of car. The styling is impeccable, and is reminiscent of a Lexus with Chrysler styling touches. The interior is radically different than what we see on the road today. Look at the all digital console! Wow, I can’t wait! This is the car I would get when it’s available!
Chyrsler 200 C Concept

Chyrsler 200 C Concept

Chrysler 200C EV Concept

Chrysler 200C EV Concept

Interior of 200 C

Interior of 200 C


Thanks for supporting http://madeinusablog.com !

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I recently had a problem with my garage door that made me do some research on garage doors and openers. We live in an old house with an original 50’s-era single-piece heavy door. The door is held in place with springs and has at least a 10 year old Sears chain drive opener. Recently, it started getting stuck halfway up when opening. I wasn’t sure what the problem was – oiling the hinges didn’t seem to help.

So I called up a local garage door service company for help. I thought that the problem was something in the hinge, since they looked old and worn. The repair guy said that the door was very heavy and had probably burnt out the old opener. He thought the hinges were ok but that a new opener was in order. He carried Liftmaster and said that they were “made in USA.” A new opener with a screw drive was going to cost around $450.

So I did some research. I went to Liftmaster’s website, where it says plainly that they’ve been in Nogales, Mexico, just across the border from Texas, for the last 20 years. So I then checked out Genie.  Their  website didn’t say, so I called up customer service. The lady on the phone was very nice and helpful. She said that their factories are all in Ohio. She also asked me if the door is “balanced.” I didn’t know what she meant, so she explained that the door should be able to stay up on its own when disengaged from the opener’s drive. I said “no,” that that was the original problem. She said that unless that was fixed, it would destroy all subsequent openers prematurely. I was grateful for the advice.

So I called up the repairman and had him come back and balance the door, for much less than buying a new opener that was going to break prematurely anyway. All he had to do was tighten the springs. No new parts were needed. The door works great now, and all I spent was $150 on repairs. He also conceded that Liftmaster is not made in USA.

I feel like I owe Genie a huge thanks for their free advice. If and when I do need a new opener, I will definitely get it from them, and I told them that a huge part of the reason is that they’re made in USA – “pass it on to your boss,” I said. “I will,” said the customer service person.

Here is the link to genie:  http://www.geniecompany.com/

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