Making American Manufacturing Great Again
Happy Earth Day!
“…We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt and phony financial profits. Tonight, I want to speak about how we move forward and lay out a blueprint for an economy that’s built to last, an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, skills for American workers, and a renewal of American values.” — President Obama, January 2012 State of the Union
I love walking into the shop every day, smelling the lacquer and hardwood of the 180-year-old floors of the Pepperell Mill and hearing the buzz of the sewing machines used by the few dozen stitchers and cutters who work for Hyperlite Mountain Gear. They sit in sun that pours through tall windows built before the days of consistent electricity—windows that used to offer the only light employees would have to work by.
When my brother, CFO Dan St. Pierre, and I started this company we decided to make all our packs, shelters and Stuff Sacks right here on Main Street, USA. As a young start-up, we didn’t really see any other way of running our business. And as we grew, we realized the numerous financial, environmental and social benefits to producing domestically.
We believe “Made in the USA” is a worthwhile endeavor that benefits our customers, our company, the community where we do business and, especially, our employees. Our employees come from all walks of life and are of all ages. Some are expert seamstresses who previously worked for the textile industry, while others are newly trained young folks just starting out their factory careers. All are highly skilled craftspeople who care deeply about the quality of their work. They’re from Maine, after all, a place known for its true grit and work ethic. Really, they are the reason we exist, and I appreciate them every day that I come to work. So, we offer them above-average wages and health benefits.
By supporting our employees, we also support the greater Biddeford community, an old mill town that nearly died following America’s manufacturing exodus to Asia decades ago. In fact, the repurposed mill building where we operate is part of a successful effort to revitalize the local economy, fueled in part by various small companies like ours. By keeping our manufacturing in America, we can also ensure our workers operate in a clean, safe environment. Consider that the Chinese Ministry of Health itself reported in the 2000s that 200 million Chinese workers were regularly exposed to toxic chemicals and nearly 400,000 died that year as a result of occupational illnesses.
Finally, we pride ourselves on sourcing the majority of our materials from the United States. Though based in the Netherlands, DSM Dyneema makes its woven Dyneema® and Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (formerly Cuben Fiber) in the United States. Choosing products manufactured in the United States saves the fuel expense of shipping products across the world. It also feeds the cycle of the American economy. We buy products from companies that also employ US citizens, thus further supporting American manufacturing.
According to President Obama in his more recent 2016 State of the Union speech, America is in the middle of the longest streak of private sector job creation in history. “More than 14 million new jobs, the strongest two years of job growth since the ‘90s…” and a “manufacturing surge that’s created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years.” We’re proud to contribute to that significant job growth.
You can read more about our American Manufacturing on our “Hand-Built in America” page. Also, in celebration of the environment, we’re featuring Kt Miller as our ambassador of the month. Just today, she released her film “Shifting Ice + Changing Tides,” which is now free for public viewing today. Happy Earth Day.