No, this post doesn't refer to items made in the home but rather products made in one's home country. (Spoiler alert: it's a long one that deals with USA made products, but the same concept also can apply to your home country.)
Do you get excited when you find something made in your home country ?
That's what happens to us when we find a product label, Made in USA. Compared to not so many years ago it's become harder (and harder) to find goods produced "home."
Imagine our excitement a couple of weeks ago when shopping for new bath towels. We found these at a Bed, Bath & Beyond retail store advertised Made in the USA.
The towels were produced by 1888 Mills located in Griffin, Georgia. The facility, s
tarted by a group of textile veterans, employs over 200 workers, many have been in the industry for over 30 years. It's among the last remaining towel manufacturing plants in the U.S.
Not only were we pleased with the quality (and color) of these towels, but more so after learning where they were produced.
And, it started me wondering HOW many companies were currently making products in the USA. That led to
a few hours some online sleuthing. We've purchased products from several of those listed during road trips that took us directly to the facility.
research sleuthing, I learned that many consumers view Made in USA as a mark of quality that makes a purchase worthwhile, even if it's costlier than something produced elsewhere. In a 2017 Reuters survey, about 7 in 10 said it was important to them to buy American-made goods; 21 percent said they'd be willing to pay up to 10 percent more.
Made in (somewhere else) is seen on many product labels, especially electronics, as well as clothing and home goods. Yet, there's still many USA made household products. Here's some that many may be familiar with over the years and perhaps some surprises.
Weber Grills are made in Palatine, Illinois, but gas models are made overseas. The recognizable rounded shape of the original Weber charcoal grill was first designed in 1952.
Wiffle Balls are a lightweight ball invented in the 1950s by a former semi-pro baseball player who wanted to his son to avoid injury while practicing. His invention has become a staple of backyard ballgames. The company has changed little — its products are still cheap (under $10 for a bat and three balls), the dimensions remain the same, and manufacturing operations are still in Shelton, Connecticut.
Wilson footballs are produced in Ada, Ohio where more than 4,000 leather pigskins are produced daily by a workforce of 120 people. Wilson is the official supplier to the National Football League.
Louisville Slugger baseball bats are produced in the USA even though baseballs are no longer made here. While the brand was sold to a Finnish company, Louisville Sluggers are still made in Kentucky, as they have been since 1884. Prices for a signature wooden model start around $30.
American Plastic Toys, as per its name, are made at five facilities in Michigan and Mississippi. In business for 55 years it has resisted outsourcing to China where more than 90 percent of toys are now made. Products include toy cars, dollhouses, wagons, toy strollers, and more. Prices range from less than $10 to under $90.
K'Nex Toys is one of the few leading toy companies committed to manufacturing its products in the USA. Raw materials come from American sources as well. The company employs 150 people at its plant in Hatfield, Pennsylvania. A 521-piece kit of building toys is $25.
Green Toys has recycled more than 55 million milk jugs to make eco-friendly toys which meet rigorous standards for sustainability, safety and durability. The company relies on a an all-American supply chain and has become a top seller of eco-friendly children's toys which include toy vehicles and sorting sets priced from under $10 to $30. At a local thrift store this week, I saw my first Green Toy product shown here.
KitchenAid mixers have been around for over 100 years and are still produced at the company's flagship plant in Greensville, Ohio. The iconic stand mixers are noted for durability and performance. KitchenAid also makes many non-American appliances as well.
Regal Ware has been producing high-quality stainless steel and cast-iron cookware from its Wisconsin manufacturing facilities for over 100 years. The company's products are sold under brand names such as Kitchen Fair, Lifetime, and Saladmaster. Prices range from $25 to $200.
Stetson Hats is (no big surprise) a Texas company founded at the end of the Civil War and the only company that produces cowboy hats entirely in the USA, but also is one of the largest hat manufacturers in the nation. Millions are made at the company's Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, plant.
New Balance Shoes beat all other brands in the manufacture of athletic footwear in the USA; however, it does make some styles in other countries. Each year the company makes more than 4 million pairs with at least 70 percent domestic materials. Shoes labeled "made in USA" are often more-durable but priced higher, starting at $180.
Gillette Blades has been manufacturing its razor blades in Boston, Massachusetts, since its 1905 founding. The company has expanded operations to multiple nations since, but its best blades still come from the original Massachusetts location. American-made blades are available in 10-count packs for around $20.
Zippo Lighters have been made in Bradford, Pennsylvania since 1933 with thousands of variations. The reusable metal lighter is an iconic American brand. Basic models start around $11.
Lasko specializes in small heating and cooling appliances for home use. Some of its products are made overseas and motors come from China, but the company produces many American-made products, including an oscillating stand fan, at plants in Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
Sterilite Containers makes plastic storage containers, and other home storage products. It was created by Earl Tupper, who also invented Tupperware. The company's product line has expanded since its 1939 founding as it continues to manufacture products exclusively in the USA. The company is based in Townsend, Massachusetts and last year it began production at its 7th U.S. plant in Davenport, Iowa.
Pyrex Glassware was founded in 1915 and sold to Corning Inc. in 1998. The new ownership avoided transferring American manufacturing operations overseas. While Pyrex's metal bakeware now is manufactured abroad, the oven-safe lidded glassware still used to preserve leftovers in many households, including ours, is still made at the factory in Charleroi, Pennsylvania.
Nordic Ware was founded in 1946 and still makes the vast majority (about 98 percent) of products from a facility in Minneapolis, Minnesota, that houses its corporate headquarters. Products include its flagship cast-aluminum bundt pan. (Bundt, what's a bundt? is a line from the 2002 film, My Big Fat Greek Wedding.)
Lodge Manufacturing is a rare company that has remained family-owned after over half a century of continuous operation. Its factory store and foundry in South Pittsburg, Tennessee, has been in operation since Lodge's 1896 start and continues to produce cast-iron cookware in a wide range of styles and prices. In 2017, the company fired up a 127,000-square-foot foundry adding production capacity. We visited and purchased cookware from the TN factory store.
Gorilla Glue Co. is a family-owned adhesive manufacturer whose heavy duty products, most notably their namesake product, Gorilla Glue, supply DIYers and woodworkers. Their glues, tapes, epoxies are made in America at their headquarters in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they're ranked consistently as one of the city's top places to work.
L.L. Bean Boat and Tote Bags have been made in Maine from sturdy 24-ounce canvas since first introduced in 1944. The Freeport-based company manufactures other products abroad, but its online store has a "Made in the USA" category that includes footwear and outdoor gear in addition to the bags.
Igloo Coolers produces some of the most-common cooler designs. All the company's products come from a 1.4 million-square-foot facility near Houston, Texas. The brand has recently expanded to sell more heavy-duty coolers. Many folks have fond memories of their first Igloo cooler, including myself.
Slinky was introduced in 1945 by naval engineer Richard James and is one of the most successful toys in history. The company is now owned by the larger toy corporation Alex Brands, but Slinkys are still manufactured at the same facility in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania. They can usually be bought for under $6.
Viking Appliances first introduced professional-grade oven ranges and still makes all ovens, refrigerators, and other products in the USA. Viking employs more than 1,000 people at four manufacturing facilities near its headquarters in Greenwood, Mississippi.
Vermont Teddy Bears are produced in Shelburne, Vermont, at a factory we've visited a couple of times and shopped at too. Vermont Teddy Bear manufactures all its stuffed animals at its Vermont facility and the tours are fun as well.
Two factories produce nearly a half-million bears each year, making the company one of the largest producers of teddy bears and the largest seller by mail and online orders. The stuffed friends start at around $40 each and are made with recycled cotton and guaranteed for life.
Crayola Crayons are manufactured at the company's flagship factory in Easton, Pennsylvania. An average daily production totals 13 million crayons.
Anchor Hocking Glassware has been producing glassware in the USA since the company's founding in 1905. It employs more than 1,500 associates across the nation, most of them concentrated around its manufacturing plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Anchor Hocking has plenty of products between $10 to $40 marked with a "Made in the USA" label, except for a select few collections that are sourced internationally.
Harley Davidson is named for William Harley and Arthur Davidson who built their first motorcycle in Milwaukee in 1903. Since then, Harley-Davidson has survived rough periods and ownership changes to remain an iconic part of American biker culture. The company and its manufacturing operations are still headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and today the bikes sell for between $8,000 and $45,000.
Airstream Trailers are made at a plant in Jackson Center, Ohio, that employs 500 workers. This iconic aluminum trailer is the oldest trailer in the RV world.
Vermont Castings has been making energy-conserving wood and gas stoves and smaller wood burning inserts from their foundry in Randolph, Vermont, since 1979.
W.R. Case & Sons Cutlery Co. was founded in 1889 and employs more than 350 people in Bradford, Pennsylvania, where it produces legendary handcrafted pocket knives, plus cooking, hunting, and specialty knives. Some knives are family heirlooms that have been passed down for generations.
Cutco Knives founded in 1949, employs more than more than 600 employees at its factory and headquarters in Olean, New York. The largest maker of kitchen knives in the U.S. and Canada, Products come with a "Forever Guarantee" promising customer satisfaction and lifetime sharpening.
Martin Guitars have been played by Johnny Cash, Joan Baez, Paul Simon, and Beck, among many others. While Martin, which dates back to the 1830s, does have a production plant in Mexico for its less-expensive models, its headquarters in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, is where it makes its top-of-the-line guitars and ukuleles. Fans of these legendary guitars can see them made on factory tours five days a week.
Even though this post is fairly long, there's still many more USA manufacturers not mentioned here, including: Fiesta Dinnerware, Polarmax, Steinway Pianos, Chesapeake Bay Candle Company, Gibson Guitars, Allen Edmond Shoes, Goodwear USA Clothing, Burt's Bees, Smith & Wesson, Benjamin Moore Paint, Post-It Notes, Oreck XL Vacuums, Leatherman Multi-Tools, Hallmark Greeting Cards.
Just wondering — Do you look for products made in your own country as well?
If so, are you willing to pay more for them than a similar product made elsewhere?