Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It's a Start

GFS expansion plans will result in 111 new jobs at its Osseo,
WI, facility in the next three years, and transfer production
 here from its current Mexico plant.

Global Finishing Solutions, a company that leads the world in paint booths and industrial finishing, is not exactly a household name.  Although their product is all around us and everywhere one looks, it’s perfectly understandable if you’ve never heard of them.  Such is the nature of manufacturing companies in America, which have to compete for mainstream attention with the sexy ostentatiousness of software, the fleeting trend-setting of entertainment, and the addictive emotional roller-coaster of national politics. 
Companies like GFS are the tiny success stories you never hear about.  I don’t know why; well I know why but I don’t particularly like it.  I recently told an inquiring couple at a café I wrote about American manufacturing.
“Well, you must have NOTHING to write about”, the xx chromosome part of the pair remarked.  I wanted to go off on a long diatribe about all the stories of progress I read about in US manufacturing.  I wanted to rant about how an ill-informed public is fed the same crap in a 24 hour news cycle about recessions and protests and the Euro and elections and no one gets access to what’s really happening in the industry that affects all of us more directly or importantly than any other
Instead I just sipped it, shrugged my shoulders and half-smiled.  When you see me do this to you, know that you are Fredo, and I am giving you the kiss of death. 
GFS's success story is more promising than anything else you've watched on cable news the past few months because last September it announced it was bringing jobs it sent out to its location in Mexico back to its headquarters in Osseo, Wisconsin.  As the AP reports:
            Global Finishing Solutions is completing a $10 million expansion at its headquarters in Osseo (AHS'-ee-oh) that's expected to create 111 new jobs over the next three years. The addition will allow the company to move production from Monterrey, Mexico and         consolidate its manufacturing operations in Osseo, where it currently employs about 270.”
                    Associated Press, from Manufacturing.Net, Sept. 22, 2011.
Sure it's only a handful of jobs.  And sure, Osseo, Wisconsin is not exactly the epicenter of American enterprise (although Foster Cheese Haus at the intersection of Rte. 53 and County Road, according to Yelp, comes close.  Look, nothing under four stars!!) However, it doesn't seem that this is an isolated incident.  Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor for The Telegraph has been paying attention to US manufacturing's storm weathering and makes a pretty formidable list of stories like GPS's:
            The list of 'repatriates' is growing. Farouk Systems is bringing back assembly of hair dryers to Texas after counterfeiting problems; ET Water Systems has switched its irrigation products to California; Master Lock is returning to Milwaukee, and NCR is bringing back its ATM output to Georgia. NatLabs is coming home to Florida.”
-       Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph, Oct. 25, 2011.

Clearly, we're seeing a nation-wide trend here.  And if that is the case, then the less than two thousand residents of Osseo, Wisconsin can officially consider themselves trend-setters.  At least far more than any cable news company or pretentious espresso drinking couple I know.

Donal Thoms-Cappello is a freelance writer for Rotor Clip Company.

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