Entries in Manufacturing (32)


US Manufacturing Rises Nearly Three Points in January

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- U.S. manufacturing jumped in January to its highest level since last April, the Institute for Supply Management reported Friday.

The index rose 2.9 points to 53.1 last month as factories are seeing a greater demand for goods.  Anything over the 50 percent mark indicates growth.

Economists say the second-month-in-a-row gain shows the economy is starting to thrive again after struggling most of last year.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Lenovo to Start Making Computers and Tablets in the US

Lenovo(MORRISVILLE, N.C.) -- While many PC companies have their headquarters in the U.S. -- HP, Apple and Dell, for example -- they build the computers overseas, primarily in China. Lenovo is going the other way, creating a PC production line in the U.S.

After two decides of making computers and other gadgets overseas, Lenovo will start making hardware in early 2013 in Whitsett, N.C., near the company's U.S. headquarters.

"I am very excited about this for two reasons," David Schmoock, president of Lenovo North America, told ABC News. "The first is that this is the right time to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. The second is that we will be able to provide something different than what our competitors do."

Lenovo will make some of its newest products at the new assembly line, including the ThinkCentre M92p desktop and the ThinkPad Tablet 2 with Windows 8. While many of the core components -- RAM, hard drives, displays, etc. -- in the laptop will be made overseas, Schmoock said the company is hoping to source more components locally over time.

"We believe local manufacturing is a strategic advantage and we want to do as much local sourcing as we can too," he said in an interview.

The manufacturing line is in the process of being built and is scheduled to open its doors in January 2013. The company will begin hiring for the 115 manufacturing jobs later this year, but Schmoock says that is just the start for the jobs this could create.

"I am bullish on this and I expect that it will grow over time. This is just the first phase."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Manufacturers Get Boost from Overseas Customers

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A few years ago, Signature Systems Group, which makes portable flooring and fencing products, had $10 million in annual sales and only sold its products in the U.S.

Now, more than half of the Bronx, N.Y., company’s customers are overseas, annual sales have reached $70 million and the company has quadrupled its workforce.

During the opening ceremonies of this summer’s London Olympics, Elton John even performed on one of Signature Systems Group’s floors.

“I could see the floor,” said Arnon Rosan, CEO of Signature Systems Group. “I know they put stuff on top of it but I could always see where the floor was. It was exciting.”

But what’s truly exciting is the comeback that companies like Signature Systems Group are experiencing.

The Boston Consulting Group estimated last year that as many as 3 million new American jobs would be created by 2020. Now, it’s bumped that number to as many as 5 million jobs.

For the first time since the 1930s, U.S. manufacturers have an advantage in exports.

With the most productive workers in the world, U.S. labor is now 20 percent to 45 percent cheaper than foreign competitors. New technologies like fracking are unlocking energy reserves and pushing down energy costs. Even shipping from U.S. ports is cheaper.

“The container ships are coming to the U.S. full,” said the Boston Consulting Group’s Hal Sirkin. “Those containers have to go back anyway, so the U.S. is able to put goods in that container and the shipping companies don’t charge them that much more.”

Many U.S. companies said they can now compete globally.

  • At in Los Angeles, business is up 600 percent and its products are now sold in 24 countries.
  • Hurd Windows and Doors of Medford and Merrill, Wis., said it has customers overseas.
  • Cali-Bowl, which is designed in California, now reaches customers in Korea.
  • Even Oklahoma City’s Lady Americana told ABC News it was hiring.

Economists said that the boom in manufacturing could drive down unemployment by two percent or three percent by the end of the decade.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Flubs His ‘Three Proud Words’

Alex Wong/Getty Images(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) — After bashing Mitt Romney’s “bad math” tax plan, President Obama also had some trouble adding things up.

It’s a standard part of the president’s stump speech to tout his plan to create jobs by rewarding companies that make goods “stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”

Rallying supporters in Kissimmee, Fla., Saturday, however, the president said, “We can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years, because we’re selling goods around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in the USA.”

For those counting, that’s more than just three words.

The president repeated the flub again Sunday in Melbourne, Fla., once again rallying supporters to back his plan to “change our tax code so we stop giving tax breaks to companies that are shipping jobs overseas.”

“Let’s reward them for investing in new plants and equipment here in the U.S., and training new workers here in the U.S. … creating jobs right here in the U.S., making products that we sell around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in the USA. That’s what we’re fighting for. That’s the future we want,” he said as the crowd chanted three proud letters, “U-S-A!”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Jobs Report: US-Based Foreign Employers Don't Care About Politics

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As the country awaits the monthly jobs report for August to assess the state of the economy, it's a good opportunity to look at the other side of the employment coin: The foreign-based U.S. employers who employ about five million Americans.

Bill Krueger, vice chairman of Nissan Americas, said the company is less interested in the election's outcome and more interested in whether the U.S. will encourage engineering and manufacturing training for potential workers.

Nissan, based in Japan, employs 17,000 people in the U.S. at its three U.S. sites.  The company is adding about 2,200 manufacturing jobs in the U.S., including 1,000 jobs in the fourth quarter to its Canton Vehicle Assembly Plant in Mississippi.

Nancy McLernon, CEO of the Organization for International Investment, which represents about 200 U.S. subsidiaries of global companies, said the members of her organization are studying the statements of the presidential candidates for signs they are "embracing the global economy."

"Globally engaged companies want to be in globally engaged countries," said McLernon.  "The extent to which lawmakers understand global marketplace is helpful.  Isolationist views are not."

Business has been good for automakers like Nissan in the U.S.  The automaker's August sales rose 7.6 percent from a year ago, the company reported on Tuesday.

But finding skilled workers has been a trouble spot for the company.

"If there's a weak point right now, it's the availability of skilled maintenance workers and engineers," Krueger said.

Manufacturing jobs are slowly making a comeback after the long economic downturn that began with the financial crisis in December 2007.  In July, the U.S. economy added 25,000 manufacturing jobs.

Economists are expecting an addition of 125,000 total nonfarm jobs in August, which would leave the unemployment rate unchanged at 8.3 percent.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Apple and Foxconn Make Progress on Working Conditions at Factories

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The Fair Labor Association (FLA) says conditions are improving for the Chinese workers who assemble iPad and iPhones for Apple. Back in March, the FLA released a report on the poor conditions at Apple’s Foxconn supplier. The organization gave a long list of recommendations to Apple and Foxconn, and both Apple and Foxconn agreed to follow them.

Now, five months later, the FLA says that Foxconn has completed 280 action items on time or ahead of schedule.

“Our verification shows that the necessary changes, including immediate health and safety measures, have been made,” Auret van Heerden, president and CEO of the Fair Labor Association, said in a statement. “We are satisfied that Apple has done its due diligence thus far to hold Foxconn accountable for complying with the action plan, including the commitment to reform its internship program.”

Apple and Foxconn made a number of physical changes in the last few months to improve worker safety, including more testing of equipment and changes to prevent repetitive stress injuries. A detailed report of the improvements is posted on the FLA website.

Foxconn also took steps to improve working hours, but it still has not reached the final goal. By July 1, 2013, Foxconn has promised to reduce worker hours to the legal limit of 49 hours per week and stabilize pay. Foxconn has already reduced the workload to under 60 hours per week.

“The next phase of improvements will be challenging for Foxconn because they involve major changes in the working environment that will inevitably cause uncertainty and anxiety among workers,” van Heerden said. Making changes to the working hours are among the 76 remaining action items that Foxconn has to accomplish before next July.

Apple was reported to have become history’s most valuable company Monday, though the numbers did not account for inflation.  It has sold approximately 37 million iPhones and 15.4 million iPads in the last three months of last year.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Fisker May Never Build Electric Cars in US

Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The luxury carmaker Fisker Automotive continues to signal it could ditch plans to build its next generation hybrid electric vehicle in the United States, despite the nearly $200 million in Obama administration loan money it has already received.

Fisker received federal funds in part to help purchase a shuttered General Motors plant in Delaware, where it predicted it would one day employ 2,000 auto workers to assemble the clean-burning gas-electric family car, known as the Atlantic.

But company executives began hinting in February that it would reconsider that plan and look for a cheaper place to build the car after the Department of Energy froze the $529 million green-energy loan the company had received, and had been drawing on since 2010.

Fisker used the first $169 million in taxpayer funds to bring to market the Karma, a flashy $100,000 hybrid sports sedan that it assembles in Finland. After a series of delays and stumbles, the company announced it had sold its first 1,000 Karmas, bringing in $100 million in revenues so far this year. The sleek, high-end model has been well received by critics, and the company reported this week it has started to sell in Europe, and could soon be on sale in the Middle East.

Earlier this year, one of the Karmas stopped working in the middle of a Consumer Reports road test -- an embarrassing breakdown that Fisker later blamed on a faulty battery. The lithium-ion batteries became the subject of a recall, including for a defect that raised the risk of fires.

More recently, one of the high-priced cars went up in flames in the garage of its Texas owner. Fisker said the car was unplugged at the time of the fire and the battery pack was intact and still working after the blaze -- all clear indications, they said, that neither the car nor its battery had anything to do with the fire. A spokeswoman for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration told ABC News the agency is "aware of the incident and is working with local authorities to evaluate whether there are any potential safety implications."

The U.S. Department of Energy has said little about its decision to freeze the balance of Fisker's loan, which was intended to pay for the development of the Atlantic. The department confirmed it hired a restructuring advisor to study the terms of the agreement and assess the performance of the company.

"The Department continues to review Fisker's financial and operating status and is working with the company to review its revised business plan, but no decisions have been made," an Energy Department official said in response to questions from ABC News.

Roger Ormisher, a Fisker spokesman, acknowledged that Fisker had failed to meet the government's milestones for the rollout of the Karma, and that those delays "put us into the process of negotiation with the DoE, who put further monies on hold until we could settle on mutually agreeable milestones" for the rollout of the next car.

It now appears that the company's decision about where to assemble the Atlantic could hinge on whether it will continue to receive federal support. ABC News asked Ormisher if Fisker still felt bound to manufacture the car in Delaware if federal funds were no longer available, or if the company would look for a cost-effective location in or outside the U.S. to build the car.

"If Fisker no longer gets government monies, then obviously we are in a place where other options are open to us and have to be considered from a business perspective," Ormisher said. "However, given the work that we have done at the plant in Delaware and the fact that we own it, it is still our primary option to consider."

Fisker appears to be preparing for the possibility it will need to move forward without further government support. The company has continued an aggressive push for outside investors.

"It is important to note that Fisker Automotive's success is not dependent on government money," Ormisher said. "We are primarily privately funded, having raised more than $1 billion in private equity financing since 2007."

One of the company's major backers is the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, according to published reports. The firm's partners include John Doerr, a billionaire tech mogul who serves on President Obama's Economic Recovery Advisory Board.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Global Companies Expanding in US Towns

Asad Zaidi/Bloomberg via Getty Images (MALTA, N.Y.) -- When Global Foundries was seeking a home for its new $7 billion factory, it skipped over Germany and Singapore, where it already has facilities, and settled on the small town of Malta in upstate New York.

"We got a call from folks in New York who had been investing in infrastructure and workforce and everything," said Travis Bullard, a spokesman for the company, which is 80 percent owned by Abu Dhabi. "We came up and looked at a few sites around New York and ultimately decided to build here."

Now the semiconductor-making site employs about 1,300 people, with plans to reach 1,600 by the end of the year.

"These machines, our technicians, are doing extremely advanced manufacturing work," he said about the process of making silicon wafers. "They're manipulating individual atoms with the use of light and chemistry."

Global Foundries also has partnered with 17 community colleges and a high school to provide those looking for work or a new career path with the proper skills.

"This is really the first production-scale facility of this kind, in this area," Bullard said. "So the workforce doesn't exist here yet. There is a high-skilled workforce -- and we're tapping into that -- but there is still training and education that has to be done to get people the right skills."

Global Foundries is not the only foreign company bringing manufacturing to the U.S.

Germany's Siemens opened a plant making steam and gas turbines in Charlotte, N.C., late last year. The facility employs 825 workers and the products ship to Norfolk, Va., and then to Mexico and Saudi Arabia.

Scandinavia's Electrolux, which makes kitchen appliances, expanded its North America headquarters last year in Charlotte as well. The move led to 500 new jobs and there is a plan to hire 200 more. And the U.K.'s Rolls Royce has a facility -- its first in the U.S. -- in New Crosspointe, Va. Although 150 jobs have been filled, the project calls for 600.

At Hudson Valley Community College's TEC-SMART facility, high school graduates in a two-year program get real-world experience in a chip-making laboratory setting. Several of them had already been hired by Global Foundries.

"This program is really unique in this part of the country," said professor Abe Michelen. "This has been happening only the last three years here in upstate New York. The trigger for this was Global Foundries."

Raymond Stone told ABC News that he had been out of work for about a year after his job was moved to New Hampshire. Stone, who has been at Global Foundries since July, said he was enjoying the work.

Joshua Alexander, a Global Foundries worker, told ABC News that he had noticed an influx of jobs. He started at Global Foundries in July 2011 after being unemployed for four months.

"It's unreal, the amount of cars you see coming to work in the morning, in the parking lot every day," he said. "At certain points when they were first getting used to the flow of all the traffic coming in, we had major traffic jams just because there were so many people trying to get to work."

Bullard said Global Foundries was not about just erecting walls and manufacturing.

"We're doing a lot of work with the community. ... It's a new industry for this region," he said. "It's a big effort. It's a big community effort but it's exciting."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


On Swing State Stop, Obama Hails Two Years of Job Gains

The White House(PRINCE GEORGE, Va.) –   President Obama Friday hailed two straight years of private-sector job growth under his administration, calling the February jobs report the latest sign “the economy is getting stronger.”

“Day by day we’re creating new jobs.  But we can’t stop there, not until everybody who’s out there pounding the pavement and sending out their resumes has a chance to land one of those jobs,” he said in a speech at a Rolls-Royce Crosspointe jet engine disc manufacturing facility in Prince George County.

The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added 233,000 jobs last month, and revised figures of the reported job gains in January up by 41,000 and by 20,000 for December.

“The key now, our job now, is to keep this economic engine churning,” Obama said. “We can’t go back to the same policies that got us into this mess.”

The burst of positive economic news added to Obama’s swagger as he toured the factory, located just south of Richmond. He also addressed supporters before heading south for two campaign fundraisers set to net at least $2.8 million for the 2012 campaign.

In his speech, Obama highlighted a new $1 billion proposal – part of his 2013 budget blueprint -- to create a series of regional manufacturing institutes aimed at linking manufacturers and academic experts to make the U.S. more competitive.

He also touted a broad resurgence in the American manufacturing sector, which he has made a major plank in the argument that his economic plan is working, especially in key manufacturing states.

Manufacturers added nearly 400,000 jobs since Obama took office, completing the first full year of consecutive job gains since 1997.

“This facility is part of the evidence of what is going on around the country,” Obama told the crowd. “When I come to places like this and see the work that is getting done, it gives me confidence that better days are ahead.”

Friday’s jobs news, which reverberated across the political spectrum, included a mix of accolades for Obama.

The leader of the nation’s largest union, Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO, hailed it as a “tribute to the leadership of the President.” SEIU president Mary Kay Henry said the numbers mean “we must redouble our efforts to re-elect President Obama.”

But Republicans, while welcoming the job gains, highlighted the nation’s persistently high unemployment rate -- which was unchanged last month at 8.3 percent -- and the 12.8 million Americans still looking for work, according to government statistics.

“Millions of families continue to feel the pain of the sluggish Obama economy and the rising cost of gas, groceries and health care,” said Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus in a statement.

As the November election nears, voters in swing states like Virginia will weigh the trend lines on jobs against those other economic pressures.

The latest polls in Virginia, which Obama carried with 52.6 percent of the vote four years ago, show a bright horizon for the president.

Seventy-eight percent of Virginia voters in the most recent Marist/NBC poll believe economic conditions will either stay the same or get better over the year ahead, while just 19 percent believe the next 12 months will mean more bad economic news.

“I thought it would take him a lot longer to get where he was now,” said James Hubbard, Jr., 60, a Virginia native.  “I’m pleased with the fact that he’s starting to turn things around earlier.”

Said Karen Saunders of Chester, Va., “Hopefully… there are more jobs coming. I think he’s done a lot, actually, but I think there’s more that needs to be done.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama Suggests Romney Shoveling 'Load of You-Know-What'

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza(WASHINGTON) -- As Michigan Republicans head to the polls Tuesday morning, President Obama delivered an aggressive defense of the bailout of the auto industry and his presidency in general, harshly criticizing GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney – though he never mentioned him by name.

“I’ve got to admit, it’s been funny to watch some of these folks completely try to rewrite history now that you’re back on your feet,” the president said to a raucous crowd at the United Auto Workers Convention. “The same folks who said if we went forward with our plan to rescue Detroit, ‘you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye.’”

In a November 2008 New York Times op-ed titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Romney wrote, “If General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.”

In a boisterous, excited tone, President Obama continued, criticizing Republicans who said “the workers made out like bandits in all of this; that saving the American auto industry was just about paying back unions. Really?  I mean, even by the standards of this town, that’s a load of you-know-what.”

Campaigning in Grand Rapids, Mich., earlier this month, Romney said the bailout was “crony capitalism,” arguing that President Obama had “gotten hundreds of millions of dollars from labor bosses for his campaign. And so he's paying them back in every way he knows how. One way of course was giving General Motors and Chrysler to the UAW.”

As part of the GM bailout arrangement, a UAW-owned trust was given a 17.5 percent ownership stake the car company (now roughly 10 percent as stock has been sold) in exchange for various concessions including the union taking responsibility for health care costs of retirees. The president Tuesday argued that with reduced hours and pay, some worker rights relinquished, and roughly 700,000 auto worker retirees seeing a reduction in health care benefits, workers indeed gave things up in the bailout.

The visit was an “official” presidential event, not campaign-related, but the president took the stage to chants of “Four More Years!” after which a labor official told the crowd, “This is not a political event.”

Still, the president continually referenced Romney. “The other option we had was to do nothing, and allow these companies to fail,” the president said. “In fact, some politicians said we should. Some even said we should ‘let Detroit go bankrupt’” -- another reference to Romney’s New York Times op-ed.

The crowd booed at that reference.

“You remember that?” the president said to the crowd that clearly did. “You know him?”

“Think about what that choice would have meant for this country,” the president said. “If we had turned our backs on you; if America had thrown in the towel; GM and Chrysler had gone under.”

Without directly asking the UAW workers to help his re-election campaign he said, “I’ll promise you this: as long as you’ve got an ounce of fight left in you, I’ll have a ton of fight left in me.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio