Monday, August 29, 2011

Keep Your Job Search Hope Alive with Hiring for Hope

Photos credit - Flickr Common

Are you one of the 30 million Americans looking for work right now? Have you been job hunting for 6 months, 12 months, or longer with little if any hope left? Have you talked to recruiters and applied for so many jobs online that they all run together in your mind now? And, you still don’t have a job or what seems to be any hope in finding one?

Have you in fact said a prayer each night for strength to get through this time in your life? Do you feel powerless and wish someone, anyone, would care about your family and your situation? Hiring for Hope may be one answer to that prayer.

Hiring for Hope is a national 501c3 public charity focused on empowerment for those hit hardest by the recession. They merged with the highly successful JobAngels Network in February 2010 to form a most powerful grassroots network to assist job seekers in getting their lives back.

Hiring for Hope has 50,000 + members, 140 volunteers, and formal employer partnership agreements with many organizations across the U.S. CEO Tegan Acree notes a few of their achievements from a career management perspective since opening their doors in September of 2010:

* Had a hand in putting 2500 people that we know of back to work (Due to the grass roots nature of our organization, some of this can be very challenging to track)

* Through our Career Angels Program, we provided one-on-one career management assistance to nearly 3,000 job seekers on an individual basis by providing them with nearly 12,000 free hours of free career coaching services.

* Launched an online Learning Management System (LMS) called Launchpad Learning Center that houses a library of 100 different career management topics

* Held eight “live career events”

* Provided 75 job seekers in transition with an opportunity to participate in our Volunteers for Hope program to build and enhance their skills, and bridge gaps on their resumes while they were in career transition since September of 2010

* Solidified the support and partnered both informally and formally with nearly 100 different career professionals from organizations across the country including Turner Broadcasting, Home Depot, Scientific Games, Assurant, Hooters, Morgan Stanley, Sun Trust Bank, Lockheed Martin, and Kaiser Permanente just to name a few.

* Established an active following of nearly 45,000 social media members in our LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Voices of Hope social network communities.

BKH: Are your networking resources 100% "free" to those needing help?

TA: Yes. The only cost is time and effort.

BKH: What level of employment does the Hiring for Hope network help with - white collar, blue collar, and executive?

TA: As long as someone is willing to invest the time and effort to help themselves, we will provide assistance and support.

BKH: Does the Hiring for Hope network have participants in all 50 states?

TA: Yes. There are participants in all 50 states and in over 20 countries.

BKH: Which are the top three states for participation?

TA: California, Georgia, and Texas.

BKH: Describe the many types of services available at Hiring for Hope.

TA: Our services for job seekers, couples and their friends and family members are free, confidential and compassionate. We simultaneously provide financial assistance, support and career and family building management services to the people we serve. In the process, we also solve the workforce challenges of employers.

Our Complete Career Management Services include six different free services that focus on one-on-one career coaching, job placement assistance, job skills and development training, the ability to rebuild and expand your network, a way to earn referral fees for helping us get people back to work, and our famous grassroots JobAngels employment networking program.

BKH: Describe the type of volunteer positions available at Hiring for Hope.

TA: As long as someone's primary language is English, they are altruistically motivated, dependable and have their own computer and internet access, a person can volunteer with us from anywhere in the world. Members of our Volunteers for Hope Team get to choose from different flexible opportunities designed to fit a wide range of time commitment and skills. Because we operate our own social network, we have a large number of unique "virtual volunteer opportunities" available in addition to more traditional volunteer roles.

BKH: What are the industries represented by the Hiring for Hope volunteer participants?

TA: Our Volunteers for Hope Team members encompass skills and experiences from a wide range of industries. The majority of them have experienced firsthand one or more of the life events our services are designed to support. Plus, many of us are Human Resources and Operations executives who are experienced in making hiring decisions every day. We are NOT trained medical professionals.

BKH: What level of decision making is represented by the Hiring for Hope volunteer participants - executive, mid-managers and non-managers?

TA: All of the above. Because of the diverse nature of the populations we serve and the services we provide, we attract volunteers from all walks of life, skills levels, industries, religions and ages.

BKH: Does Hiring for Hope have established relationships with major corporations or business associations?

TA: Yes. Through our Career Angels Program, Hiring for Hope has relationships with nearly 100 Human Resources/Talent Acquisition decision makers from organizations across the country. Our Career Angels volunteer their time to help our job seekers on an individual basis.

They also contribute job leads, knowledge and support to our community, as well as take an active role in our various events around the metro area. In some instances, such as with Intuit, they have gone so far as to add the logo of our JobAngels Program on their careers page.

BKH: Does Hiring for Hope have established relationships with government agencies or elected representatives?

TA: No, not at this time.

BKH: What are most people looking for in general that come to your network for help?

TA: Most people are looking for a safe, supportive community of like-minded people and experienced professionals to ease the financial, psychological and financial stress that is common during times of loss and crisis. They are also looking for a way to eliminate their feelings of hopelessness, isolation and shame, and replace them with renewed hope, opportunity and a sense of empowerment to control their destinies.

BKH: What is the average length of unemployment for those that come to the Hiring for Hope network for help right now?

TA: We see new arrivals that have been laid off within days of joining our community, and we see others who are approaching 3+ years of unemployment. During a recent Hiring for Hope event in Atlanta, the average length of time that the attendees had been unemployed was nearly 24 months.

BKH: What are the top three mistakes most job seekers make in looking for employment in today's market?

TA: They have not effectively defined or established a "personal brand."

They have no idea what kind of job they are looking for, and as such no clear strategy for getting employed, or they are unhappy when they do.

They neglect to blend traditional networking strategies with a healthy dose of modern technology. For example, I regularly meet job seekers with hundreds of LinkedIn connections who have never spoken to, or met, the majority of those connections.

BKH: How does the Hiring for Hope network enhance how the unemployed are already networking to find employment?

TA: It broadens how many have traditionally pursued networking in a comfortable, safe, supportive, pay-it-forward environment. Our communities offer exposure to a wide variety of individuals who they would not have been privy to otherwise. Finally, no one is judged, and this is important during a time of personal and professional uncertainty.

BKH: Explain your use of social media to bring people together.

TA: In addition to having nearly 45,000 active members in our mainstream social media properties, we also provide four separate free, safe, informative and supportive online support communities called Voices of Hope. Voices of Hope has a robust selection of easy-to-use web 2.0 tools that link with many of the popular mainstream social media sites, which makes it easier for someone to expand their network, find inspiration and moral support, exchange experiences and share opportunities and resources.

Our members find four main groups to interact with inside our social media communities:

* Like-minded people who have come together to pay-it-forward

* Qualified professionals and individuals who are altruistically helping others

* People seeking the help they need

* Employers and business partners interested in solving today’s unemployment and family building challenges

BKH: How do those that need help or want to help join the Hiring for Hope community?

TA: Start by visiting Hiring for Hope and get to know our organization, our nationwide Volunteers for Hope team of 140 people and each of our social media avenues. Then, simply follow the instructions to join those programs and communities on our website you are interested in.

Or simply learn from the premise of the Hiring for Hope movement and call an unemployed former colleague, take a neighbor to coffee, visit a local community center that helps the unemployed or someone in the family building process. Just try to help one other person in some way each day.

BKH: What is the Hiring for Hope success rate in helping the unemployed find jobs?

TA: This is difficult to track given the “pay-it-forward” nature of the movement, but we do know of more than 2,500 people who have found employment as a direct result of their association with Hiring for Hope.

BKH: Do you have plans to expand the Hiring for Hope mission?

TA: The Hiring for Hope mission will always remain the same. We will continue to find ways to reach and help as many people in need as possible.

BKH: What are the three most significant pieces of advice you have for those looking for employment today?

TA: Resist the temptation to isolate yourself, and remember there are many other individuals who are experiencing the same things as you. Reach out and connect with like minded people.

Surround yourself with supportive individuals and try to help others. You may be surprised how they will return the favor. Avoid promoting or succumbing to a victim mentality. Take control of your circumstances by empowering yourself with knowledge and resources.

BKH: What was your drive in starting Hiring for Hope?

TA: The inspiration for founding Hiring for Hope took root after spending several years as a Human Resources Director laying workers off before finally losing my own position when it was relocated out of state.

At the same time, my husband and I endured five years of fertility treatments, lost three children and then watched helplessly as my nephew Jack was stillborn at 38 weeks gestation. Today, my husband and I now have two healthy children, one of which was the result of an assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure that was made financially possible by a grant we received from a pharmaceutical company.

With a lot of effort and a huge support system, we were blessed to overcome and recover from the obstacles we faced. But some folks never recover from theirs. Hiring for Hope is our way of paying forward the kindness and support we received when we were battling our own family building and career transition obstacles.

BKH: Why Does Hiring for Hope exist?

TA: The number of people impacted by career management and family building issues is staggering. See our Statistical Summary Sheet/Incidence Rate Sheet for details. In most states, having no insurance coverage for expenses associated with the family building process, coupled with a double-digit national unemployment rate, has created a situation where the basic American dream of building a family is becoming hard to achieve.

BKH: Explain the Hiring for Hope investment back into the community.

TA: We use our extensive database and social net­works to match the needs of employers with the skills of our job seekers. When we fill a position, we receive a fee from the employer. These fees, combined with funds from business partnerships and national fundraising, make it possible for us to provide all of our free services and to fund our Brave Little Soul Grant Program. The program provides hope and financial assistance to couples who have experienced a loss and/or obstacles to building a family.

We think Flora Edwards got it right when she said, “In helping others, we shall help ourselves, for whatever good we give out completes the circle and comes back to us."

Everything we do at Hiring for Hope is based on the simple concept of paying it forward and helping others. In our community, altruistic behavior is considered cool and is celebrated, heavily promoted and regularly rewarded. The more you contribute to our community, the more it will give in return.

BKH: Thanks, Tegan. See this Hiring for Hope video on YouTube for a complete list of services.

Above all else, Hiring for Hope in a resource for job seekers of people that personally care about their circumstances and want to help them and their family.

As noted on their website, “Have devastating life events outside of your control caused you or a loved one to give up hope, abandon your dreams, and made you feel as though you have lost control over your own destiny? Has all of this caused you to feel trapped, helpless, isolated, hopeless, and/or emotionally and physically exhausted? If you are visiting our web site because you are searching for hope, and a way to reclaim control of your life circumstances, then you have come to the right place.”

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and join her on Facebook.

Monday, August 22, 2011

2012 Voters Organizing with Political Based Social Media Networks

Photo Credit - Flickr Common
In past elections, have you blindly voted for candidates knowing nothing about them or their campaign platform? Have you voted for an incumbent on name recognition only or simply because they had an “R” or “D” after their name without knowing their voting record?

Have you relied on the media for your political news? Do you believe everything you hear or read by the media? Do you
watch campaign ads believing they cannot say it if it is not true? Have you in fact allowed the media and campaign ads to shape your political opinions and votes?

Are you ready to change, to get informed, and to get more involved in the political process with the upcoming 2012 election? Many voters are. Many voters have even become citizen organizers.

The citizen organizer has the ability to identify like-minded individuals; to create political consensus; to establish political allies; to provide information outside of the candidate’s controlled message; and to persuade others in supporting or not supporting a candidate. This is true whether we are talking about politician campaigns or existing politicians – whether proposed bills or existing legislation.

Have you ever wanted to ask a politician a direct question, to express your opinion on proposed legislation, and track a politician’s voting record? Would you know how to go about this? Would you consider the time and effort involved a deterrent?

Houston, Texas based TellMyGov is a non-partisan social media network based in politics. It provides information on legislation currently being voted on as well as the specific voting history and campaign agenda of politicians. It also includes financial information for all elected officials.

TellMyGov allows voters to meet and organize. Members can create their own groups, post polls, debate in the forums, and share thoughts and feelings in the interactive chat rooms. There are periodic interviews with political figures and a comment forum for members to post questions for politicians.

TellMyGov Founder and CEO Boris Ackerman notes, “In these days and times it is apparent the majority of Americans can agree on one thing, our government is in desperate need of repair. TellMyGov is a free platform for every American to get connected and obtain valuable political information that affects every American on a local and national level. It is an unbiased place for American voters to voice their opinions in the upcoming elections.”

Ackerman shares his expertise:

BKH: What was your “light bulb” moment for TellMyGov?

BA: I wanted to join a political social network to communicate with other voters, but I could not find a site specifically providing this service. This is when the vision was formed to create an online community that connects voters to each other and to politicians.

BKH: Is the company or website funded by any Political Action Committee (PAC) or lobbyist money?

BA: The site is funded purely by advertisers. That can include political campaigns, lobbyists, companies, individuals, etc. The site is available for use by everyone, and the funding is just as diverse.

BKH: How do you retain party neutrality with TellMyGov?

BA: The site content is driven by its community members.

BKH: Facebook has many people forming political groups. How is TellMyGov similar and different?

BA: TellMyGov has unique group features that allow you to create events, add photos, post comments, chat, and add a video profile. We are working to expand these features.

BKH: Facebook has had a lot of member data privacy issues come into play in the past few months. How does TellMyGov handle member data privacy?

BA: We keep our member data private, and we allow the users to control their privacy settings.

BKH: What needs does TellMyGov meet?

BA: The site provides easy access to congressional information and a way for users to communicate about political topics across a social network.

BKH: Who is the target market for TellMyGov?

BA: Every American voter.

BKH: What has been the initial reaction of voters overall to TellMyGov?

BA: The initial reaction has been very positive. The site has been described as a great political resource and a much needed tool for the voters at a crucial time for our government.

BKH: What has been the initial reaction of politicians overall to TellMyGov?

BA: TellMyGov recently sponsored Kevin Brady on the radio show, The Price of Business, hosted by Kevin Price. During the show, Congressman Kevin Brady said “It looks great. You did a good job.”

BKH: What political party affiliation seems most engaged on TellMyGov?

BA: TellMyGov currently has a balanced set of members.

BKH: How do you counter any fraudulent results or hidden lobbying with TellMyGov?

BA: TellMyGov is a forum designed with open discourse in mind. It is a forum with rules. Like any interactive site, we encourage our users to report any suspected fraudulent activity.

BKH: What age group seems most engaged so far on TellMyGov?

BA: Our members range from 18 and up. All are equally engaged on the site.

BKH: What states have had the top voter engagement?

BA: Most are from Texas for now, which is probably due to our home office location of Houston.

BKH: Is it available for every U.S. Representative and Senator nationally?

BA: Yes.

BKH: Is it available for local and state politicians?

BA: Yes.

BKH: Does it contain information for every U.S. legislation bill or law?

BA: We offer information on top bills currently under review, sponsored bills per official, and top roll call votes for 2011. We are constantly working to expand and improve these features.

BKH: Does it contain information for every local and statewide legislation bill or law?

BA: Not yet, and we are working to add this to the site.

BKH: Do you believe politicians will listen to voters that engage them with TellMyGov?

BA: Yes, as our membership grows, we hope more and more politicians will use the site to engage with the voters.

BKH: This would be a great teaching tool in the classroom. Is TellMyGov working with schools or student groups?

BA: Yes. It will be a great teaching tool, and we are working on expanding the site to include schools.

BKH: Describe the radio program exposure you have received for TellMyGov?

BA: No radio programs are tied to TellMyGov. However, as a result of interest in our site, some programs have featured the site. We have worked with some programs to bring political interviews to the public through those programs. Questions from voters on TellMyGov are asked of the politicians.

BKH: What are your plans for additional site feature enhancement?

BA: We are working to include mobile access integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Blackberry. We are also planning to expand the site features to include information on current campaigns and the elections.

BKH: Do you plan on bringing TellMyGov to other countries ultimately?

BA: We are working on expanding the site to include other countries, but we certainly want to focus on the American system during this initial period.

BKH: Does TellMyGov have a direct line to the White House and President Obama, to Congress, to State Governors?

BA: Our direct line is the voting public.

BKH: How do you anticipate TellMyGov playing into the 2012 elections?

BA: TellMyGov will be a vital source of information on the local and national level for all voters. Voters will be able to have their voice heard by the politicians and interact directly with their campaigns to make a difference.

BKH: What do you hope voters take away from engaging with TellMyGov?

BA: I hope they will become more informed about politicians and feel connected to the election process.

BKH: What are your ultimate goals for TellMyGov?

BA: We want to make TellMyGov the top online resource that connects the voters to the political system. We want voters to have their opinion and vote matter.

BKH: Thank you Boris.

Facebook is the top resource for social networking with family and friends with Google+ on their heels. LinkedIn is the top resource for business networking with professionals, colleagues, and recruiters. Emerging political based social media networks, like TellMyGov and TheVoterEffect, are emerging resources for voters to more directly participate in the political process.

One thing is for sure. As we move into the 2012 election season, voters are looking for a real seat at the table, and they are organizing to be heard in their representation.

Voters know social media can easily facilitate this. Voters are more invested, and they feel ownership in the process. The expectation of two-way participation and communication in politics in real-time is an emerging and lasting dynamics with voters.

The days of politicians thinking the dynamic remains I talk, you listen, and you don’t question my message are over. The new dynamic is now you spoke, I listened; now you listen to me as I speak my experience and opinion - a two-way exchange and a more personal individual relationship is expected.

Should a politician ignore the two-way communication that social media fosters and voters and consumers expect, they will be viewed as out-of-touch and replaceable no matter how great the initial excitement, the strength of message, or the value of their platform.

In addition, once elected, politicians will have to live up to their campaign rhetoric in their actual voting record to be re-elected. The importance of listening to the people they represent is a growing factor with voters. Politically based social networks easily and directly facilitates this for voters and politicians.

Voters under 30 got involved in the 2008 Presidential election campaign in record numbers. Many became involved in politics for the first time in their lives – many through social media platforms.

Candidate Barack Obama changed politics forever by setting the bar for all future political candidates to strategize and effectively use social media in political campaigns. He proved out the tremendous power of social media if used with a positive, individual interest, networking message strategy.

The greatest impact of Obama’s powerful use of social media is in how social media as a tool is changing the face of politics and policy in general - not just in campaigning. Everyone learned by watching Obama including America’s citizens – the governed – the voters.

Not feeling their values and opinions were being listened to, let along being accurately represented in Congressional voting, American citizens got involved in political discourse in the last two years. Many typically non-political citizens got informed and involved for the first time in their lives. This included citizens of all ages.

Voters are watching politicians closely for action that backs up their words. Voters are organizing and connecting as they gear up for the 2012 elections.

In the post-Obama campaign evolution, the political focus in social media use will not necessarily be on a politician’s campaign message, for no candidate will be able to tightly control their branding and messaging like Obama seemed to successfully do in 2008.

The social media dynamics have evolved and become much more organized by citizens. The citizens are now in reality just as powerful as the politician’s press secretary and media relations today whether politics or the media like it or not.

Even if the media controls the brand and message by only presenting a candidate in a positive light, ignoring any emerging negative factors or a specific voting record, social media doesn’t allow this to go unchallenged as the only message people see or talk about anymore.

Voters are using key social media tactics to overcome the “power of politicians” who ignore their expressed desires in passing unwanted legislation and more taxation. Now social media affords in reality a leveling agent for both political campaigning and debate playing fields in the political realm.

In politics, these leveled playing fields allow for more accessibility, connection, and networking for the everyday, everyman participant; and these leveled fields are much more equal in several ways to a candidate’s political campaign team’s level.

The everyman has the ability to have a political discussion that is person-to-person and person-to-group with an unlimited audience. This is true even if the everyman has no actual access to traditional media or no actual participation in televised candidate debates.

Voters are now more directly engaging politicians by asking specific questions, expressing their opinion on proposed legislation, and tracking Congressional voting records. Voters are now more directly effecting their own futures having seen how public policy and legislation directly affects their economic stability and individual freedoms.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and join her on Facebook.


Monday, August 8, 2011

“Reshore” U.S. Manufacturing to Stabilize Credit Rating, Reduce Debt, and Create Jobs

The U.S. economy is at a standstill, and Americans are looking for answers to the crisis. With the Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the U.S. credit rating from AAA to AA+ and warning it could be downgraded even further, Americans are fed up and looking for solutions.

Many do not believe the solution that will pull the U.S. from the brink will come from spending addicted politicians that created a kick-the-can-down-the-road piece of legislation to enable the debt ceiling hike just a week ago.

To look at the problem, the politicians created yet another panel naming them the “Super Committee”. Do they get capes? Was the S & P’s down grade President Obama’s 3:00 AM call? Is it Congress’ wake-up call?

Americans are also angry with big corporations offshoring jobs to foreign companies to cut costs. Americans see a once prosperous middle class losing ground in the U.S.

No one can deny the huge negative impact offshoring U.S. manufacturing has had on the economic growth and stability of Americans personally and on the nation’s GDP, tax revenues and government expenditures. Unfair trade deals are unacceptable, and trade imbalance promotes American economic depression.

There could not be a better time for cooler heads to prevail all the way around. There could not be a better time to view our problems realistically and to look at the root causes to develop real solutions which will benefit all. Manufacturing has a job and tax revenue multiplier effect in an economy.

Americans need jobs to survive, politicians need GDP growth to reduce debt, and corporations need a stable and cost effective environment to prosper. We do not need free trade that is not fair trade.

Even with all the chaos in the markets, and some world governments, the U.S. remains where many will and should put their money for the lowest risk.

It needs to make sense realistically for companies to do so. Harry Moser, the Founder of the Reshoring Initiative knows what many U.S. companies need to know. It does make more sense than they might realize, including more economic sense for businesses.

The mission of the Reshoring Initiative, an educational non-profit company, is to return manufacturing work and jobs to the U.S. by helping manufacturing companies recognize they will be more successful if they reshore more and offshore less. They promote government understanding how to support reshoring effectively.

The Reshoring Initiative offers companies a look at the “Total Cost of Ownership” (TCO) with its TCO Estimator software as well as other research and organizational tools that support the manufacturing industry’s business owners, government officials, and union groups.

Harry Moser holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters in Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago in 1981.

He was the President of GF AgieCharilles and retired as Chairman Emeritus in 2010. He is on the board of NIMS, credentials for skilled manufacturing, and is President of the Swiss Machine Tool Society.

Moser, an Inductee to the Industry Week’s Manufacturing Hall of Fame 2010, has had his work highlighted in Fortune, Wall Street Journal, and Industry Week. He shares his reshoring expertise:

BKH: Do you believe the S & P credit rating downgrade of the U.S. will have any impact on reshoring manufacturing to the U.S.?

HM: The most likely direct impacts are a lower dollar and higher interest rates. A lower dollar unambiguously makes U.S. manufacturing more competitive. Higher interest rates may hinder manufacturing investment in general but will increase the carrying cost of inventory, making local sourcing with delayed payments relatively more attractive in comparison to offshoring.

BKH: We have seen unemployment over 9% for a record setting period of months. How can reshoring manufacturing immediately help?

HM: Eventually, we have to balance the trade deficit or the dollar will collapse. When we balance the $550 billion per year trade deficit by reshoring manufacturing, we will create 3 million manufacturing jobs and 5 million or more multiplier effect jobs. This could reduce the unemployment rate to about 4%.

BKH: We have seen politicians taking the annual budget deficit and the overall debt seriously these past few weeks. Can reshoring help deficit reduction by balancing trade deficits?

HM: Balancing the trade deficit by reshoring will increase tax revenue from workers and companies. It will decrease expenditures for unemployment, trade adjustment assistance, stimulus programs, etc. The total impact could be $2 trillion federally over 10 years and $500 billion at the state and local level over 10 years.

BKH: Are you meeting with local, state, and federal government about the needs and goals of reshoring?

HM: I met on July 22, 2011 with SelectUSA, a new Commerce Dept office to motivate foreign direct investment and investment by U.S. companies. They are quite interested in using and distributing the Reshoring Initiative’s tools to economic development groups around the country.

BKH: Are they listening to you?

HM: Generally yes. However, they tend to be too focused on exports and not enough on reshoring. It is far easier for most U.S. factories to compete here where they have the home-field advantage, rather than overseas.

BKH: Does Steve Wynn have it right about capital investment in the U.S. right now being scared to death over possible higher taxes, carbon emission regulation, redistribution of wealth, and socialism fears?

HM: Steve has a powerful argument. I think the impact is greater on small to midsize privately owned companies whose owners in effect personally pay the expenses for those government programs. Overall, the lack of demand due to offshoring is a greater issue for most companies.

BKH: Do you believe government is capable of understanding what environment is needed in the private sector to create jobs?

HM: Certainly some individuals in government must understand. President Reagan understood. Most elected officials are too torn between competing constituencies and their own need to be reelected to take the necessary actions.

BKH: Are tax breaks for reshoring manufacturing prudent and necessary?

HM: It’s far better to help all domestic manufacture be competitive via a lower dollar and an end of Chinese currency manipulation. The Yuan is still about 75% lower than it was in 1980 despite the huge improvement in the Chinese economy, balance of payments and productivity. We need consistently good basic education with much more emphasis on “professional” training of the technicians needed to be competitive producing tradeable goods and much less emphasis on liberal arts university degrees.

BKH: Are tax breaks for repatriating manufacturing capital back to U.S. prudent and necessary?

HM: I am not sure doing so will stimulate manufacturing. The big companies here have all of the cash that they need. They can borrow more at very low rates. An ideal solution is to have a low 5% tax on repatriated earnings, and spend 1% of the taxes raised educating companies about Total Cost of Ownership (TCO); so they make and source more here, increasing domestic demand.

BKH: What is your opinion of the NLRB and Boeing dispute?

HM: Boeing may have violated the letter of the law by telling the union what it would do if they struck. If so, the law is the problem. It is certainly in the interest of the union, the workers, the company, and the country for companies to be able to communicate honestly and openly.

BKH: What do you see as the future for unions in manufacturing?

HM: Traditionally I saw them as reducing the efficiency and competitiveness of the economic system. Recently however, I did a webinar for the AFL-CIO and presented to the IUE-CWA, training both to engage management in reshoring. I was impressed. The IUE-CWA even has lean specialists that help their companies become more competitive. The unions are much more committed to reshoring than big business, because all of the unions’ members are in the U.S., whereas the companies have plants and customers worldwide.

BKH: Is it possible for American companies to compete globally with higher union wage and benefit demands?

HM: Demands are not the problem. Unit labor costs above those determined by the market are. If the union can create productivity and quality that are in excess of non-union companies, then it can earn some premium compensation. Otherwise, no.

BKH: What is most misunderstood about the China vs. U.S. manufacturing cost?

HM: Sixty percent (60%) of companies only consider the price or perhaps the Cost of Goods Sold, missing other “hidden” costs that can add 20% or 30% to the recognized costs.

BKH: There have been some news articles recently about the U.S. becoming competitive with China. Can you provide some details from your work on this?

HM: Boston Consulting Group’s May 5, 2011 report stated that the net unit labor cost in China would be so close to the cost in the U.S. southeast that the “hidden” costs will make the Total Cost of Ownership lower for U.S. production by 2015 for a broad range of manufacturing.

BKH: Do you believe China, or other developing and emerging manufacturing countries, will continue to dominate global manufacturing in 5, 10, 15 years?

HM: Today they dominate the growth in global manufacturing. As wage rates converge, especially in China, the relative growth rates will converge. The U.S. and other developed countries can regain some of the momentum if they act like Germany and Switzerland and develop strong technical training systems. In those countries 70% of youth enter sophisticated apprentice systems. The countries get, on average, a far higher quality and quantity of skilled technical professionals.

BKH: What impact did the tragic Japanese earthquake have on reshoring?

HM: The Japanese earthquake forced companies to recognize how fragile their supply chains are. The result is either dual sourcing in different countries or shortening supply chains so there is less chance of disruption. Use of TCO helps the companies understand that they do not have to sacrifice profitability to reduce risk via the latter solution.

BKH: Detail what is needed for companies to complete a true cost analysis of keeping manufacturing in the U.S. or reshoring versus offshoring.

HM: Data or estimates about the costs that are associated with the offshoring: price, duty, freight, carrying cost of inventory in transit and on the shelf, travel cost to visit the supplier, opportunity cost when orders are lost due to long supply chain, etc.

BKH: What is the TCO Estimator?

HM: It is software that calculates the TCO for a part, product or tool from the relevant data inserted by the user. The output data and charts let the user make an apples-to-apples comparison of sources so the company can make the best decisions in its own interest.

BKH: What are the possible impacts of offshoring on a company, their product cost and quality, and their strategic positioning that many companies do not realize or understand until after they have taken their manufacturing out of the U.S.?

HM: Cost is 20% to 30% higher than they estimated based on price or labor costs. Most did not go much further than price, perhaps adding duty and freight. Strategic impacts include degraded innovation from separating manufacturing and engineering as well as intellectual property (IP) risk.

BKH: What percentage of the manufacturing industry understands this true cost analysis and impact overall?

HM: Surveys by Archstone Consulting, 2009, and Accenture, 2011, both show that about 40% of the companies use the total cost of ownership concept. Many companies bonus their supply chain managers on savings at the price level instead of the total cost of ownership level.

BKH: Is the manufacturing industry listening?

HM: Generally the contract manufacturers and lower tier product and material manufacturers that will benefit the most by reshoring are very enthusiastic in addition to privately owned companies in the $200M annual revenue range. These companies are dependent on U.S. sales and want to use the TCO Estimator for selling.

BKH: How are they responding?

HM: The small and medium enterprise (SME) and unions are responding very well. Bigger companies are more difficult to convince to consider changing their behavior. I am starting to get emails perhaps weekly from companies that are using the TCO Estimator and have questions.

BKH: How can reshoring help a company better align their manufacturing with key priorities?

HM: By eliminating the need to make those priorities subservient to the pursuit of lowest cost labor. By understanding TCO, they see that they can have innovation, customer response, lower inventory, better quality, etc. without impacting price or profitability.

BKH: How can a manufacturer get a copy of the TCO tool?

HM: Online at Reshorenow.org.

BKH: What companies have you worked with recently which have begun reshoring manufacturing back to the U.S.?

HM: I am working with Morey Corp and Hydraforce in the Chicago area.

BKH: What were their main reasons for reshoring?

HM: Morey was initially motivated by quality. They then found that reshoring cut inventory by a factor of 18.

BKH: What can people in the manufacturing industry do to help?

HM: Use TCO for buying and selling. Get your company or your customer companies to listen to 1 of 4 free webinars in August 2011. Send me cases of successful reshorings. Spread the word to other companies. Encourage your national politicians to support reshoring.

BKH: What do you have on your schedule for 2011?

HM: I am writing articles and doing webinars. I will do about 100 presentations in 2011 to managers in supply chain, risk, trade associations, accounting, unions, machine tool makers and distributors as well as original equipment manufactures (OEMs). We are currently also updating our website with new information.

Reshoring Initiative has 15 funding sponsors and will reach 20 by the end of the year. I need volunteers in Research and Administration.

We are in discussions with affiliates in New York and New Jersey and working with the IUE-CWA. We are training two $150M annual revenue Chicago area manufactures to use TCO for sourcing and for selling to their large customers.

We want OEMs to use TCO to reevaluate sourcing, and suppliers to use TCO to sell local sourcing. We are encouraging economic development groups, private and public, to promote U.S. based facilities. We are talking to government groups reframing the trade discussions to put as much effort in reshoring as exporting. We invite participation and calls.

BKH: Thank you.

It is time those negotiating trade agreements on behalf of Americans corrected deals and policies that lead to unfair trade imbalances for the U.S. It is time for reshoring manufacturing to be a multiplier catalyst in driving a real economic recovery that includes job growth. We want the American middle class working again. We want employment levels that add to our tax base to reduce debt and stabilize the dollar, credit ratings, and markets.

We want business to emphasize American jobs being brought back in the best interest of all including their own. We know it can be done and must be done. With everyone working together, reshoring manufacturing is one of the ways it will be done.

It’s time to put America and the stability of Americans first in our strategies. We build it, and we will come. We make it, and those of all nations will buy it.

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