I'm a new member to this message board. This is my first post here. I've been in this business for 20 some odd years the last 15 of that with Blue Bell/VF. I understand the need to remain competetive by lowering overhead. The thing I don't agree with is closing facilities in the United States and moving the majority of the manufacturing off shore. I think it is just wrong to have more than 50% of your manufacturing in some other country when there is such a need for jobs here at home. People wonder why is the economy going down hill? Why is cosumer confidence so low?? Because the working class people of America have come to the point where they are not sure anymore if they will have a job to go to in the morning. Or will Julio be doing the job they HAD for $50 a week?
Welcome to the board "bluebell_man".
Your message strikes a cord of patriotism at a time when all Americans are uniting under one front as our way of life is under attack. But, if I may, I would like to point out, that VF is one of the last American clothing companies to move a majority of it's manufacturing to foreign shores. One only need look at Liz Claiborne, Perry Ellis, Fruit, Kellwood, etc. to find they moved their manufacturing offshore many years ago (majority). As well, we need to include retail chains like JCPenny, Dillards, Limited, etc. because they have now become "labels" themselves by marketing their own private brands that are almost 100% sewn offshore.
This is not a new trend by the way. It became accelerated in the Reagan era, true, but most fashion oriented companies were already there (recall the Kmart brand made in China scandal). I mention this mainly to establish that VF held out as long as they possibly could. Mr. and Mrs. America vote with their dollars everyday, and unfortunately, they do not vote "Made in America".
As a public company, VF management is charged with increasing shareholder value. Although I disagree with the way they wasted hundreds of millions of dollars on a failed system, I must give them credit for maintaining U.S. manufacturing facilities longer than anyone else in the marketplace. As a previous poster lamented, we could throw up our walls and charge high tariffs for goods not made here, but they would do the same in turn, therefore raising prices in a continuous cycle.
Instead of using old school economics to bring back American manufacturing, I would suggest a better approach is to use what has proven successful during our history, our ingenuity and creativity. VF was on the right path by trying to leapfrog their systems ahead of the competition. Unfortunately, they lost their way and it has cost them (us?) dearly.
What we must do is "think outside the box". If we became more efficient, cheap labor would not be enough to overcome a faster time to market that a U.S. manufacturing base provides. The fact is, that Mr. and Mrs. America are a fickle bunch and change their opinions of what is in fashion as fast and often as the weather. If you were more nimble than your competitor, price would not make as much a difference.
So, before we slam VF, let us at least give them credit for maintaining a U.S. manufacuring base longer than anyone else AND continue to grow the company at the same time.
Your assessment is right on the mark. We all want good paying manufacturing jobs to remain in the US but few of us are willing to pay the price for products manufactured by that relatively expensive labor. The only flaw in your reasoning concerns the fashion angle. Very little of VF's business is fashion oriented. Jeans don't change much and Jeanswear knows months ahead of time when and what WalMart/K-Mart/Target/JCPenney et al will want so delivery speed from the plant is not critical in most cases. Bras, backpacks, work clothes, college logo sweatshirts, etc. are pretty much in the same boat. So unfortunately for the apparel workers of America VF could either follow the competition to the cheaper labor or stay domestic and go out of business. Either way the jobs are gone.
I confirm too that VF generally delayed the moves to non-domestic as long as possible.
I'm not slamming VF I am as i stated in my post title at my home. I've been with VF/BlueBell for the last 15yrs. I like my job. The thng I disagree with is the ability of ANY U.S. company having over 50% of their manufacturing offshore. I do agree that improving the processes to be more efficient would help save American jobs but, the corporate system is not willing to put there money there. they spend it all to build moster plants offshore that if opened to their capacity and operated 3 shifts a day could easily wipe out an entire division here at home. And it does not matter how cheap the goods are if Americans don't have jobs who will buy them??
I do not agree with adopting a policy whereby imports are restricted or additional tariffs are added to foriegn made goods. The tariffs would only serve to inflate the cost of imported items, limiting the opportunity for those on a tight budget to still afford some of the things we have all come to take for granted. The tariffs would also wind up in the pocket of the government and where is the benefit of the fed having more money. What I do advaocate is whenever possible think of the "Made in the USA" label when trying to decide which item to purchase. The initiaal cost for an item made in America may be higher but the quality results in having to buy the item less frequently. We still manufacture the most quality at the best price of any nation in the world.
I am a firm believer that so called free trade, which has been our policy since Reagan was President, is inevitably going to greatly weaken America. In the short run it was a wise move as it made American industry run their businesses a lot smarter, caused some excessive wages in some industries to be brought more into line, and for businesses to be run more efficiently.
But in the long run and the long run may be starting about now, it will result in the substantial destruction of nearly all of America's manufacturing base. While it was not always so, capital now flows wherever the most profit can be made and not along patriotic USA lines. If, because of lower wage rates, something can be made cheaper in China or India it will eventually be made there. The loss of USA manufacturing jobs is continuing and will continue as long as our free trade policy continues. There are few textile and apparel workers left in the USA and fewer still each day as plants continue to close all over the country.
In the short run under free trade, prices are cheaper to consumers, but eventually the worker/consumers lose their jobs, take lower paying jobs, have less to spend, and can buy less. The once great middle class that made America the envy of the world is gradually being shrunk and America as a whole will suffer economically.
The so called 'service economy' will also gradually shrink. Without a large manufacturing base in the USA capital spending will be spent abroad. Where will American engineers, manufacturing people, accountants, and IT people be needed? They will be needed overseas, not here. These American service people and their families better be planning on moving to Mexico, India, etc. and be willing to work for maybe $10,000+- a year, because they will not be able to find jobs in the USA.
We must have fundamental economic activity located in the USA or the economy as a whole suffers. I think that manufacturing is the one essential fundamental economic activity and it is being frittered away by this unwise free trade policy. In the long run wages and living standards of the majority of American will drop. To be sure the top 20%+- of Americans will continue to prosper. Maybe another 30% will do fine. The question is what happens to the bottom half? Will they all go on welfare and be supported by the rest of the working Americans? Will they eventually realize that working for similar wage rates as foreign workers now do, is the only thing they can do? Neither is an attractive alternative.
I am always amused when politicians talk about exporting American products, when they boast about the glories of free trade. The only 'things' America exports in volume are farm products, cigarettes, and at one time Levi jeans. Now it is really only the first two. The President and Congress are totally clueless. While I do not agree with Pat Buchanan or Ross Perot about everything, they nailed it on free trade.
My argument for continuing duties on virtually all imported products is that America is the wealthiest country on earth and the world's most lucrative market for manufactured products. This is an asset of the entire country. Why should we 'give away' our market to foreigners? I say levy taxes (duties) on these foreigners and make them pay for the privilege of selling in America. In business market share is protected at all costs. I say America should do the same thing.
I appreciate your commentary. Agree with some points and disagree with others. We have been exporting our manufacturing base and expertese for the past 25 to 30 years. This only weakens our country in the long run.
A brief history lesson. WW II was won because the US could PRODUCE MORE guns, planes, tanks, ships, bombs, ammunition, food, etc than the enemy. It was our manufacturing base that defeated the Axis powers. (and Stalin's willingness to sacrifice people knowing he could win the attrition game)
Exporting manufacturing only serves to weaken our nation.
I fully agree. If I were at VF I think I would have to run the "Wrangler Real American Jean" Ads. Seems like a prime time to show your Patriotism. And What Better Way Than In A Pair of Wranglers.
We could only hope that the "Made in the USA" label will now take on a new value. I have always tried to buy American however sometimes there is not a viable alternative to the foriegn made goods. One thing should be noted: There is a very strong propaganda machine trying to convince Americans the foriegn made goods are better and cheaper than those made in the USA. This is simply not true. Look at a 40 year old Toyota and look at a 57' chevy. I rest my case.
Do you want cheap clothes and goods, would you like to pay $40+ bucks for a pair of jeans?
We are doing it to ourselves, we save a dollar today but we loose our jobs six months from now.
The only way any company in a labor-intesive industry can survive is by moving their manufacturing where the labor is cheap. Let's not even begin discussing Unions.
You worked there for many years, would you take a pay cut and reduction of benefits to keep the plant where you are working running?
Corporations do not care about people, they care about the bottom line, and rightfully so, you can operate at a loss, you will go out of business and loose more jobs.
Who is to blame, if you know please let me know.
I know who is to blame. The greedy corporate system. I'm not an idiot. I understand the concept of "The bottom line" As far as keeping the plants open. I don't see it happening anyway. When you say the corps. don't care about the people you are exactly correct. all they(the corps.) care about is lining their own pockets.When they can pay $50 a week to somebody in some other country to do the same job I do I san see why they would. BUT, that doesn't make it right!