It was a dream come true to see so many innovative companies making products in America when I attended the first Made in America trade show that was held October 3-6th in Indianapolis, IN. The event began during Manufacturing Week declared by President Trump and the show opened to the public on the national Manufacturing Day. Not only was it the largest-ever public showcase of American made products, the focus was different than any other trade show I’ve ever attended.
My plane from San Diego arrived too late Thursday to attend the gala kickoff party where the band Big & Rich and special guest Ted Nugent entertained the audience. While at the show, John Rich announced his generous donation of over $50,000 to Folds of Honor, a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships to families of military servicemen and women who have fallen or been disabled while on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Fox News sent Fox & Friend’s correspondent, Carley Shimkus, to report live from the show on Friday and Saturday, and she did an update every hour (watch the videos at foxnews.com).
On Friday, opening ceremonies began at 9:00 AM, an hour before the show opened to the public. After prayer was offered, a color guard presented the flag for saluting, and the national anthem was sung anthem, the audience was welcomed by show’s founder and chairman, Don Buckner, and COO, Brad Winnings, and Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett welcomed everyone.
Then, Lloyd Wood, Deputy Asst. Secretary for textiles, Consumer Goods and Materials made brief comments on behalf of the Trump Administration, noting that 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created since the beginning of 2017, there are 7,000,000 current job openings, and 300 companies of the National Council for American Workers have signed a pledge to expand apprenticeships He also mentioned that President Trump just signed trade agreement with Japan and is working on trade agreement with United Kingdom.
Economist Stephen Moore, was the featured pre-show speaker. Highlights of his comments were: average income has increased by about $5,000 per year since 2017, unemployment is down to 3.4%, and Black and Hispanic unemployment is at record low. Federal tax revenue was higher than any previous year; regulations are down by 34%, yet air quality is better as CO2 emissions have been reduced by 70-80%. Also, for the first time, we are a net exporter of oil and gas.
Radio talk show host Mike Gallagher, one of the most listened-to radio talk show hosts in America, broadcast his show Friday at the booth of Mike Lindell of My Pillow fame. Mr. Lindell had a booth for his new venture, My Store, which will feature only American-made products for online sales. He was one of the guests on the show along with economist Stephen Moore and Mike Lindell.
After the show opened, there was a simultaneous schedule of speakers from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Harry Moser, founder and president of the Reshoring Initiative started off the sessions with “What’s Happening with Reshoring.” By using the TCO Estimator, nearly 3,000 companies have reshored manufacturing to America since 2010 creating nearly 800,000 jobs. Next, marketing guru, Steve Schwander discussed “How to listen to the customer.” After lunch, the afternoon sessions were “Protecting your IP from abuse in China” by Amy Wright and “Stay out of trouble when making Made in the USA claims” by Russell Menyhart. Mark Andol, CEO of General Welding & Fabricating, concluded the afternoon session by telling how his Made in America Store has reached big milestones in its mission to save and create American jobs by boosting US manufacturing for nearly a decade. His store in Elma, NY features over 9,000 Made in USA products.
I didn’t spend my time listening to these presentations as I wanted to see the displays by exhibitors. Outside of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, I’ve never been to a show with so much variety of consumer products. Of course, most of the products exhibited at CES are made offshore, whereas all of these products were made in America. It was a pleasure to see American made bedding, mattresses, furniture, rugs, draperies, flatware, dinnerware, cook ware, cabinets, and other kitchen goods. These are all industries that some said were lost forever. There were also bicycles, sports equipment, tools, and toys. It was especially nice to see Made in America apparel and make up.
While a few of exhibitors probably exhibit at county fairs for their homemade crafts and food stuffs like candy, popcorn, pickles, and sausage, other exhibitors were the more traditional plastic, rubber, and metal fabricators that exhibit at shows like WESTEC, FABTECH, and the regional Design2Part shows. There were also companies that probably don’t exhibit at traditional trade shows, including a company that builds roller coasters. With about 300 exhibits, it took me both days to completely walk the show as I stopped to talk to so many exhibitors.
While Friday’s show ended at 5 PM for the public, it was followed by a dinner and speeches for exhibitors, sponsors, and VIP’s.
First, Don Buckner shared his story of how and why he started the Made in American show.
Mr. Buckner said, “I started a company in my garage 20 years ago and recently sold it. Now I have the resources, capitol, and desire to finally do something. We decided to make a difference. So, we came up the idea of a trade show in Indianapolis. We rented the Indianapolis convention center for the first week of October to bring 700-800 manufacturers and celebrate U.S. manufacturing in a way that’s never been done before. If you draw a circle around Indianapolis, about a 200-mile radius, probably about half of our manufacturing is in that circle. And the other thing is the heartland of this country truly does believe in buying American-made products being pro union, pro-labor and blue collar. The name and brand of Made in America has been around for over 100 years. It has value and means quality. According to Consumer Reports, 80% of Americans still want to buy an American made product, and of those 80%, 60% of those are willing to pay a premium for an American product….”
Next, Wahl Clipper Corporation, the household name in grooming, presented a $75,000 check to Jeremiah Paul, spokesperson for Wounded Warriors for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Hernan Luis y Prado, founder and CEO on Workshops for Warriors (WFW), which is a GuideStar platinum-rated nonprofit that provides training for veterans, wounded warriors and transitioning service members to fill America’s void of qualified CNC machining, 3-D printing, welding and advanced manufacturing workers. Since WFW is located in San Diego, I’ve written three articles in the past to support his mission and goals.
Alfredo Ortiz, President and CEO of Job Creators Network, briefly explained that JCN is a nonpartisan organization whose mission is to educate business leaders, entrepreneurs, and employees and provide them “with the tools to become the voice of free enterprise in the media, in Congress, in state capitals, in their communities, and their workplaces—allowing them to hold politicians accountable to job creators and their employees.”
Paul Wellborn, President and CEO of Wellborn Cabinets, accepted the award for American manufacturer of the year on Friday night because he had to leave the show to attend the wedding of his grandson on Saturday. A whole Made in America kitchen was on display at his company’s booth. The award categories highlighted rebuilding America’s manufacturing workforce through reshoring and innovations in manufacturing techniques. The rest of the awards were presented on Saturday night.
My Pillow’s founder and President, Michael J. Lindell, ended the evening with his personal story of going from being a crack addict to becoming a multimillionaire business owner thanks to the intervention of friends and help from God. The evening event lasted until 9:30 PM and ended with a closing prayer.
There is no way to do justice to the show in one article, so my next article will cover day two of the show.
One of the video promos for the trade show said, “There was a time not too long ago when a little elbow grease and a whole lot of pride defined American made. We were industrialists driven by determination and innovation. We set the bar for quality and ingenuity, generation after generation. Something changed — Technology, foreign influence, loss of respect for the American worker. It cost us our jobs, factories, communities, our homes. Some called it a natural evolution. We call is the spark of a new revolution. We are redefining the next chapter in American made history bringing prosperity to the red, white, and blue behind every man and women committed to returning our country back to its glory days of manufacturing. We invite you to join us in this monumental revolution. The power of change belongs to us…”
I believe this trade show did become the spark of a new revolution and I am joining it. I made it my goal ten years ago when I published my first book, Can American Manufacturing be Saved? Why we should and how we can to do everything I could for the rest of my life to first save and then rebuild American manufacturing to create prosperity. I am glad I am no longer a lone voice in this cause. Please join us.