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Empty talk on manufacturing

This article originally appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.We need politicians willing to protect us from unfair trade

In the heat of this historic presidential election, the public has heard endless talk from candidates about rebuilding our national economy and our manufacturing sector. However, as the campaigns roar through the states, we in Pennsylvania have yet to receive any plans these candidates have to ensure that unfair trade does not destroy the core of this nation’s manufacturing sector, along with its workers and communities.

As a native of Mercer County, I am proud to call this area home and to be part of a multi-generational family that has dedicated itself to the U.S. steel-pipe and -tube industry. In the Sharon-Wheatland area, those of us at Wheatland Tube, a division of JMC Steel Group know the benefits that manufacturing brings to communities.

Our company, like many others in the region, provides good-wage jobs that help expand our economy, and we have done this for more than a century. During the course of history, our company has faced many challenges, including the onslaught of unfairly traded steel-pipe and -tube imports. Of course we are not alone, as we are part of the greater steel family, all of which is under attack.

Over the past decade, the manufacturing sector has lost more than 100,000 jobs in Pennsylvania. That is simply unacceptable — and in the case of steel-pipe and -tube, these losses have been attributed to unfairly traded imports.

Even in the current political climate, regardless of party affiliation, we all should agree that we have a problem. Those seeking higher elected office should do more; they should offer solutions. We at Wheatland believe it is time for them to step up and stand up for our industry.

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The 5 Must-read Electrical Blogs of 2012

At Wheatland Tube, we’re all for shining the spotlight on the electrical industry’s adoption of social media.

If social media isn’t on your 2013 marketing bucket list, you might want to think again. Take a look at the National Electrical Contractors Association’s (@NECAnet) Social Media Guide, where they dedicate a whole section of their site with information on how to get started with various tools to keep up with the industry and connect with business contacts online.

Our team came together and pulled our favorite blogs from 2012. If you know a distributor or a contractor that should be included on this list, please let us know.

1. 3M - Made in USA by AD HQ

We won’t deny that Made in America is a feel-good issue, but the bottom line is many project owners, contractors, inspectors and users want products that are made in America, because of quality and risk.

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More Than Warm and Fuzzy: Why American-made Material Is Critical to Your Project

A lot has been said recently in the marketplace and in the news about the need for products to be MADE IN THE USA. After all, 2012 is an election year, and American-made products are a hot button when people are out of work. Just look at all the websites and organizations promoting the need to “BUY AMERICA.” But again, to many people this is just a feel-good issue to feed on the “crisis of the moment.” The real issue is WHY?

The bottom line is that many project owners, contractors, inspectors and users simply WANT products that are made in America. Why? Because of QUALITY and RISK MANAGEMENT. You may try and argue that most homeowners or office tenants could care less – that they have too many other things to worry about, simply aren’t aware of country of origin issues, or are only concerned with price and appearance. I would argue otherwise.

I suspect that most people today will not accept Chinese drywall after all of the issues that have arisen with homes contaminated by the product. And what about those contractors or distributors who purchased Chinese EMT, only to have UL pull the UL listing when it was found that the product did not meet corrosion testing requirements? How were they going to be able to recover their costs once they realized they could no longer sell or install this material – much less address the concerns of those building owners or homeowners who had this material installed? This is a SAFETY issue as well as a COST issue.

The bottom line is this: Why take the risk of buying foreign products?

As a distributor, do you really know that the products on your shelf are not going to a state or federally funded project that requires only Made in the USA or Made in America products? As a contractor, do you want the risk of installing foreign products, only to find later that the products do not meet certain standards? It simply doesn’t make sense to take these kinds of risks.

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Why Domestic Manufacturing is Important Now More than Ever

American manufacturing has a long history of a favorable, patriotic indication and a track record of top notch innovation. According to a recent poll, voters say that creating jobs, specifically in manufacturing, and strengthening manufacturing in the U.S., are top economic priorities.

In today’s global market, there are too many instances where the domestic industry has been decimated by unfairly traded imports—to the point where it is very tough for a domestic manufacturer to compete against products imported from other countries.

A recent report, Preparing for 21st Century Risks: Revitalizing American Manufacturing to Protect, Respond, and Recover, written by former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge and former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security Robert B. Stephan states:

“We are becoming too reliant on global suppliers (many of whom may not have our best interests at heart in a time of crisis), along with a highly complex and vulnerable global supply chain needed to bolster our weak points or come to our rescue in the midst of an emergency.”

The report, released by the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) reflects on the importance of domestic steel products and materials as essential components of our nation’s critical infrastructure base.

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