Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are “Made in America” claims always honest and true?

Does a product being made in America influence your purchasing decisions? Most Americans would answer “yes” to this question. Companies producing foreign made products know it.

That’s why some non-American made product packaging will be in a red, white, and blue color scheme, or include an image of an American flag, or include an American company address.

Do you know the difference between labeling that reflects “Assembled in USA” and “Made in USA?” It’s getting harder now days to discern whether products are actually made in America by U.S. workers coming from even some of the most identifiable U.S. company names like General Electric Company and General Motors Corporation.

From the Federal Trade Commission, “The Commission does not pre-approve advertising or labeling claims. A company doesn’t need approval from the Commission before making a Made in USA claim. As with most other advertising claims, a manufacturer or marketer may make any claim as long as it is truthful and substantiated.”

With product marketers, big business, foreign countries, and even American politicians not always being completely forthright when making manufacturing claims, and no FTC pre-approval is needed, how do we know what is truly made in America according to what we think it means when purchasing?

Trust But Certify ™ - Made in USA Certified® is the leading non-partisan, independent third party, certification company for the “Made in USA”, “Product of USA” and “Service in USA” claims. The USA-C™ Seals show that a company bearing these trust marks has gone through a rigorous supply chain audit to verify compliance with U.S. laws and regulations.

Consumers know that when they see these seals, the claim has been verified, tested, and is true. Made in USA Certified® provides the certifications Made in USA Certified®, Product of USA Certified™, or Service in USA Certified™.

An interview with President & Co-Founder of Made in USA Certified, Inc., Julie Reiser:

BKH: What led you to start Made in USA Certified, Inc.?

JR: My husband and I were publishing a high glossy, national magazine called Made in USA Magazine. The idea of the magazine was to tell the stories, challenges, and triumphs of the American manufacturer.

As many entrepreneurs will tell you, it is not always the first business idea that is successful. The first process can sometimes breed better ideas and businesses though. As we interviewed countless manufacturers for the magazine, we found a common theme being repeated over and over.

All these U.S. manufacturers were upset there was no regulation when it came to claiming a product was made in the USA. They complained many of their competitors were actually importing products and a large percentage of their components and then “claiming” them “Made in USA.”

There was no regulator or anyone checking this claim, so, these companies were able to falsely make the made in the USA claim and underpricing the true made in the USA manufacturers. We thought this was something important, and we should come up with a system to help protect the truthful claims from the misleading ones or as we like to say…the bold faced lies.

BKH: What is your certification company’s definition of Made in USA Certified®?

JR: We have a proprietary supply chain audit system we use to identify percentage of U.S. components within a product. In general, all or virtually all of the components need to be of U.S. origin, and a product needs to be substantially transformed or manufactured here in the U.S. Our audit process gives us a very clear view of a products supply chain.

BKH: What is being certified exactly?

JR: To be Made in USA Certified® means you have met our standards for making the claim “Made in USA.” It reflects you have undergone a rigorous supply chain audit verifying percentage of U.S. components as well as last place of substantial transformation.

Certified companies have proved to a third party, independent group that their claim is true and verifiable. They have shown 100% transparency with their supply chain and have rightfully earned our coveted certification to brand their products.

These companies don’t just “say” they are “Made in USA” or “Product of USA” or “Service in USA”- they have proved it to an independent third party. That is huge.

BKH: What are the certifications received?

JR: We have three different certifications that we grant companies. “Made in USA Certification” is for most consumer manufactured goods. “Product of USA Certification” is for food products that are grown, raised or produced. “Service in USA Certification” is for service based businesses in the U. S., like call centers, customer support, software developers, and accounting, etc.

BKH: How does a company, product, or service qualify to be certified?

JR: They qualify through a full supply chain audit using our internal audit structure. Once this process is complete, our company determines if a company, product or service qualifies for certification. Companies that qualify are issued a unique identifying number and all logos, seals and licensed wordage.

BKH: What is the process to obtain certification?

JR: If a company wishes to obtain certification, they first contact us via the web and request a free, no-obligation quote on-line. This form asks a series of questions that give our company a general idea of the type of business, their size, products and number of components.

From there we are able to generate a basic quote. If the company accepts this quote and wishes to proceed, we issue initial documents that include a nondisclosure agreement and an understanding of our licensing agreement.

We also issue a request for a complete list of the company’s supply chain for each product to be certified. All this documentation is done electronically with a highly efficient digital signature and notary program.

Once our company receives all the completed documentation and payment, our team begins the process of verifying the country of origin for each component and supplier. This process can take anywhere from three hours to eight weeks depending on a variety of factors.

BKH: Manufacturing logistics and resource supply can be fluid. How do you take this into account once a made in USA certification has been given?

JR: We recognize these ongoing factors. We address this issue clearly in writing in our initial documentation requesting supply chain information.

Each certified company signs an agreement that if for any reason their vendors should change, it is their obligation and sole responsibility to immediately notify us with the information. If a company does not update us on a supplier change, they risk having their certification temporarily or even permanently revoked.

There is a clear understanding of this with all our certified companies from the onset, and we get this in writing. All of our certified companies have done an excellent job of keeping this information accurate and current. So far, no company’s certification has been revoked for this reason.

BKH: Do companies seek out this certification?

JR: Yes. Many companies are looking for government contracts and need to prove they are made in the USA. Our certification does that.

Many companies also recognize the powerful marketing tool our seal is for their brand and product line. We lend third party instant credibility to the verification and certification of being “Made in USA”, “Product of USA”, and “Service in USA” claims.

BKH: Does your company seek out U.S. products for certification?

JR: Yes, our company is always looking for passionate companies that manufacture here in the U.S. with products that qualify for certification. The more products we have certified out in the marketplace, the better it is for our company, but, most importantly for our country and consumers.

BKH: Why is a “Made in USA”certification important?

JR: Our certification is important because currently we are the only company that helps consumers to determine if a product truly is made in the U.S. There is no real regulation in the use of the made in the U.S. claim. Many companies either outright falsely use the claim or just mistakenly use it.

There is still a lot of confusion around what it means to make the claim “Made in USA” or “Made in America.” The confusion is both on the part of some companies as well as consumers. Our certification cuts through the confusion.

BKH: What benefits do companies receive by being certified?

JR: Companies that become certified have a powerful marketing and branding tool at their disposal. Made in USA Certified® works to actively support our member companies with marketing, branding, and PR resources to leverage the authentic “Made in USA” equity they have as a brand.

Additionally, certified companies have a community of like-minded business owners as additional resources and support. The benefits are endless really, and just like with anything- you get out of it, what you put into it.

BKH: What benefits do consumers receive by knowing what products are certified?

JR: Consumers that see the “Made in USA Certified”, “Product of USA”, or “Service in USA” seals or logos instantly know an independent, third party verified the claims to be true. This gives consumers’ a recognizable symbol to identify products have been certified, and it gives them added assurance the claim is truthful.

BKH: Do you believe the majority of Americans look for products and services made in the U.S. as a part of their purchasing decision?

JR: Yes, absolutely. For example, a recent Harris Adweek Poll noted, “Three in five Americans (61%) say they are more likely to purchase something when the ad touts it is ‘Made in America.”

Also, in the latest shopper research survey conducted by Perception Research Services International (PRS), results indicate that most shoppers (80%) have seen a “Made in the USA” claim when shopping, and many (60%) say the claim influences their purchase decisions.

BKH: Especially in today’s world of prices increasing weekly it seems on many staples, do you believe most Americans will put aside the preference, if one, for products made in the U.S. for a lower price point for products made in other countries?

JR: Now more than ever consumers see the connection between U.S. jobs and buying American. There is this false notion that if it is made in the U.S., it must be more expensive. That is just not always the case.

I believe there is a rise in “conscious consumerism” resulting in consumers making less but more thoughtful purchases. We all have seen what the flood of cheap goods has done to our jobs and our economy. I believe we are all consciously moving away from that consumer behavior.

BKH: What impact do you see on U.S. consumers coming from the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) recent preliminary ruling against the use of the U.S. mandatory Country of Origin Labeling (COOL Act) on agricultural products like meat, poultry, fruits and vegetables?

JR: I have been very outspoken in regards to this preliminary ruling and have written several articles addressing my concerns. The consensus from consumers on this is outrage. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL Act) was a hard fought law that was only instituted in 2009.

My belief is that consumers have the right to know where their products are made and the components that go into those products. But, I believe this is even more important when it comes to the food that we eat and provide to our families. This is a safety issue that has huge implications across the board.

BKH: What would you say to those that would point out we are all in a global economy and marketplace now?

JR: Yes, we are in a global economy and marketplace right now, and that is why it is very important that our manufacturing base is strong and vibrant. There are entire industries that have left our shores that may never return.

The manufacturing of computers and televisions is an entire industry that we once dominated, and now it is gone and will most likely never return here. If you look at current trends with solar panels and wind turbines and alternative sources for energy, we are quickly being outpaced, under priced, and pushed out of this market as well.

The fact of the matter is that in the current reality of our global world and economy, the U.S. will not be able to “out compete, out innovate, and out build” the rest of the world as we have done for centuries if we are not manufacturing and making things here in America.

To be competitive globally, we are going to have to up our game not only with our education system, but also in creating a pipeline of new innovation and business that can compete on a global scale. There is no reason why the U.S. should not be the leader in alternative energy right now.

BKH: What would you say to those that might view Americans seeking out products made in the U.S. as an isolationist or unrealistic view?

JR: When someone says that to me, I have to direct them to the very successful protectionist society of China. China is very protectionist and has the world’s fastest growing industrial economy.

Yes, we live in a global society, and we all share this planet together. However, this earth is divided into countries that for now, have the right to create their own government, monetary systems and laws.

The U.S. for a long time, as the world’s most powerful country, has taken on the role as the world savior. We have depleted a lot of our country’s resources and many times looked to the well being of other countries before our own.

So much so, I believe that for us as country to grow strong again, we must re-build our manufacturing base. We cannot compete on a world stage as a service based country. We must have laws that protect our manufacturers from unfair trade and currency manipulation. We must protect our own.

Our country has more people on government assistance right now than ever before. Additionally, a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute found the U.S. lost 2.8 million jobs to China over the past decade.

The current administration, along with the support of many groups including the United States Chamber of Commerce, is urging for the passage of more Free Trade Acts. In theory Free Trade should work, but in practice it has not. We have a decade of millions of outsourced jobs and an economy in the toilet as proof.

These free trade agreements have not been free or fair, and it has hurt our country. We need to stop the passage of more free trade acts and focus on the re-building of our own manufacturing base. It is time to start taking care of our own and providing jobs for our citizens. Manufacturing in the U.S. does just that.

BKH: It is notable that the made in the U.S. certification would allow valuable branding and marketing for a consumer direct product. Do you work with companies that produce more industrial or non-consumer products also?

JR: Our certification clearly has a valuable effect at the point of purchase with consumers; it really is a powerful marketing tool for products and companies. We do work with a few industrial, non-consumer based manufacturers, and what we have seen across the board is just receiving the “Made in USA Certified” is not enough.

There has to be an active commitment on the part of the company to use the seals, logos and messaging as a part of their brand strategy. That is where we see the most benefit with all our clients. A good example of this is with our client, Aeronautica Windpower.

Aeronautica makes wind turbines domestically in the U.S. which is not a consumer product, but they will be the first to tell you our “Made in USA Certified” seal was the deciding factor on an export contract they won with the Cape Verde Islands for a $22 million project.

They are an example of a company that did not see the value at first of a “Made in USA Certification” or the seal, yet after less than six months of being certified, they were granted this huge export contract. It should be noted Aeronautica had the seal engraved on the actual blades of their turbines.

So, the moral of this story is just getting certified is not enough for anyone. Certification, marketing, and branding are not passive exercises. The certified company needs to fully embrace the marketing and branding aspect of what we do and be actively engaged in promoting it. Time and time again, we see that it pays off and pays off big time.

BKH: Thanks Julie. Follow Made in USA Certified on Twitter and Facebook.

We are living in a time when the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (PCJC) is headed by the CEO of a company outsourcing thousands of jobs and intellectual property paid for by American taxpayers to China, Jeffrey Immelt of GE.

Many Americans find this outrageous, and it certainly speaks volumes about our leadership caring about whether free trade policies actually result in fair trade policies for America. It also speaks to the politics of fostering true competitiveness in deal negotiations on behalf of Americans and U.S. jobs.

The objection of over 50% of Americans to Mr. Immelt heading the PCJC has fallen on deaf ears in Washington. Americans can vote with their pocketbooks though. Certifications allow us to know what products and services are truly made in America by U.S. workers when purchasing.

Follow Brenda Krueger Huffman on Twitter and Facebook.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Expert John Garrett: Social Media Marketing - What's the Point?

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

Guest Contributor – John Garrett, CEO, Facilities Management Advisors LLC

Social media has become increasingly popular of late, with Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, among others, evolving to become widely accepted as part of our cultural fabric.

How can we utilize social media in its various forms to reinforce our brand, more effectively promote our business, and more effectively market our business in order to maximize market share?

If you are a small business owner, entrepreneur, or for that matter, any manager responsible for driving business improvements and increased market share, neglecting the value of social media in today's marketplace could place unnecessary limitations on your overall success.

To be sure, if you fit within one of the aforementioned categories, you are most likely extremely busy! Within today's business climate, you may be asked to accomplish more with less, essentially delivering your products or services faster, smarter, cheaper.

Social Networking - What's the Value?

Clearly, traditional advertising is broadly being replaced by Internet marketing. Don't believe it? When was the last time you read a newspaper in lieu of a web–based news source?

Whether reading the USA Today or Wall Street Journal, nearly two-thirds of business travelers recently polled noted that they preferred reading the news from an Internet source, either through their laptop, iPad, and/or smart phone.

In fact, print advertising industry revenues have astoundingly declined by as much as 25% this past year alone.

Just think - people, including your current and potential customers, are increasingly relying on the Internet for most functions, including access to news outlets, research, networking, and general business activities.

Social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and of course blogging, are amongst the most popular social media outlets available. Without question, Internet marketing presents outstanding opportunities for both entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Large Fortune 500 companies often underutilized social networks. Rather, they rely on traditional outlets such as newspaper, television, etc.

In comparison, small businesses have realized that they can more effectively market their business, reinforce their brand, and touch more customers through social media.

Perhaps just as important, doing so requires minimal capital investment (and more often than not, is free), and requires only a moderate investment of time. Even better, using social media can be quite enjoyable!

Still wondering if social media marketing can help your business? Consider the following:

YouTube

* Founded in 2005.

* By 2010, YouTube received over 2 billion viewers each day, with over 24 hours of video uploaded every minute.

* 70% of YouTube users are from the United States.

* The average person spends 15 minutes per day on YouTube.

LinkedIn

* Founded in 2003.

* Over 60 million members as of 2010.

* LinkedIn is adding up to 5 million members every 60-days.

* Nearly half of LinkedIn membership is International.

* Over 76 million people visit LinkedIn every month.

Facebook

* In 2004, Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

* By 2010, Facebook had over 400 million users.

* There are over 100 Million people accessing Facebook currently through their mobile devices.

* 60 Million people connect to Facebook on external websites.

* If Facebook were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world.

* Facebook users spend an average of 55 minutes per day browsing (or an average of 6.5 hours per week).

Twitter

* Founded in 2006.

* By 2010, Twitter has more than 175 million users.

* 80% of Twitter users use Twitter on their mobile devices, or smartphones.

* There were over 50 million tweets in 2010.

* There are more than 600 million searches on Twitter every day.

Truly amazing statistics!!! I have always believed that data should lead us to the right conclusion, and clearly social media marketing has had a substantial worldwide impact on how people communicate, network, invest their time, and conduct business.

Are you still wondering if social media marketing can have a positive impact on your business?

According to a recent social media marketing survey by Nielsen, over 80% of businesses reported an increase in customer inquiries through the use of various social media outlets, with small business owners reporting the best overall return on investment.

When asked how significant the time commitment required for social media marketing, business leaders responded as follows: 35% reported investing up to 10 hours a week, nearly 10% more than 20 hours per week, while a third reportedly invested roughly 5 hours per week.

Twitter has proven to be the more commonly used social media tool, followed by blogs and LinkedIn. To be sure, there is one common trait between both the buyer and seller, namely, it's a relationship oriented business and people buy from people they like!

It should be no secret that potential buyers want to know you, like you, and ultimately trust you. Regardless of whether or not your sales cycle is relatively short, or prolonged, social media marketing drives improved customer relationships, brand recognition, and overall familiarity with your product or service.

I have always believed that familiarity breeds success, and the more familiar both your current and prospective customers are with your business and you as individuals, the more successful you are likely to be.

Business owners and managers are increasingly aware of this reality as evidenced by the emphasis they are placing on social media marketing by way of monetary investment.

A recent analysis conducted by Forrester Research, Inc, an independent technology and market research company, demonstrates that businesses of all sizes have increased social media spending steadily over the last several years, with such spending habits expected to continue, if not increase.

Simply put, they have and will continue to see a positive return on investment. Clearly, these returns are often best reflected in improved customer loyalty, profitability, and market share.

John Garrett is a Senior Executive with 18 years Business Development, Operations Management, Customer Relationship Management, Business Strategy & Management Consulting, Sales and Marketing experience within the Facilities Management & Corporate Real Estate Industry.

Garrett has led growth efforts with clients that included some of the most recognized Fortune 500 organizations in the world across multiple market segments. He led operational assessments and growth initiatives that involved in excess of 400 Microsoft Solutions Framework (MSF) throughout the Americas.

Garrett’s company, facilities management advisors LLC, is a certified Women/Minority Business Enterprise (W/MBE) providing consultative services to both large and small businesses across a variety of market segments, specializing in the following:

* Organic and New Business Development

* Customer Relationship Management

* Facility Service Consulting

* Operational & Strategic Planning

* Cost Analysis & Budgeting

* Sales Management

* Performance Metrics

* Outsourcing

* Change Management

* National Contract Sales

* Marketing/Brand Management

* Technical Writing/Design

* Social Media Marketing

For additional information, please call 888.656.0740, or visit Facilities Management Advisors LLC.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting Gen Y Interested in Manufacturing

Guest Contributor Derek Singleton of Software Advice

Shortly after graduating from college, I got a job working for Software Advice, third-party referral firm dedicated to providing; you guessed it, software advice for the manufacturing industry.

The fit was natural - lots of research and writing with a tech bent. After all, I went to school to acquire and perfect these skills. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time writing about nitty-gritty manufacturing technologies like Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) systems and how they can improve manufacturing operations.

If you’re anywhere around the manufacturing industry today, you’re well aware of the skills gap that’s looming. Even as unemployment remains at record levels, manufacturers are having difficulty finding the right talent to fill open positions.

To make matters worse, the Baby Boomer generation is retiring - or soon will. Gen X’ers are well into their careers, and well, Gen Y seems completely uninterested in pursuing a manufacturing career. So where does that leave us?

I see three major factors that are keeping young people away from the manufacturing industry today.

* The industry has a negative media image.

* There are few manufacturing role models.

* We’re far removed from the process of building things.

But understanding the reasons young people aren’t pursuing a manufacturing career is only half the battle. To attract young people to the industry, there needs to be a cultural shift across the board to convince us that it’s worthwhile to pursue a career in the industry. I’d like to suggest three ways that we might be able to remedy this problem.

* Reach Young People Early - One of the key problems I see is that manufacturing is an afterthought for many young people. We need to be connected with building things before we decide our career path. One camp that does a great job of this is Gadget Camp, which was recently highlighted in The New York Times.

* Re-connect the Youth with Building - Shop classes and any kind of technical training have fallen by the wayside. Somewhere along the way, learning to work with your hands stop being considered professionally enriching. Technical education needs to be brought back into our schools because it reconnects us with making things - which ultimately improves our critical thinking skills.

* Gamify Manufacturing Education - We live in an age where many teenagers would rather be glued to the TV playing Call of Duty than learning engineering technologies. Instead of fighting this, we should use this to our advantage. This means making manufacturing training technologies more like video games to connect with young people. Siemens, the software company, provides an interesting example with their release of Plantville.

Derek Singleton graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles with a BA in Political Science. Shortly after graduating, he began writing for Software Advice - an independent research firm that reports on manufacturing technology, topics and trends - as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Market Analyst.

He covers the distribution, manufacturing and supply chain software markets with special attention paid to the business benefits of information technology.

You can read more from Software Advice by accessing their blog and following them on Twitter.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Americans Share Etched-In Memories of Where They Were on 9/11

Photo Credit - Flickr Common

The United States of America being attacked on September 11, 2001, resulting in thousands of innocent Americans dying, brought heartbreaking grief to our nation. The events were stunning. The images were shocking. The day was stupefying. The reality was surreal.


At the same time, the selflessness, bravery, and strength displayed by Americans, at a time of overwhelming crisis, reflected to the world the incredible character of our people and fortitude of our cultural identity.


As we commemorate the 10th anniversary of the American heroes lost on September 11, Americans recall the powerful memories, forever etched in their minds, of where they were and how they felt when they first heard the news of commercial airliners, being used as weapons, crashing into the World Trade Center Twin Towers in Manhattan, the Pentagon in Washington D.C., and a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.


* I was only nine years old. I remember I had stayed home from school that day. When I walked into the living room the news was on, and the first plane had already hit. At first I thought it was a just a movie. When I asked what it was, my grandma explained to me it was all real. I don't remember how I felt when the second plane hit and the towers fell, but I do remember looking to my left and seeing the strongest woman I know in tears." Colin Lundgren, U.S. Army Specialist, Joliet, IL


* “There are few days I can remember with such clarity. I was working for my brother at his office. One of the guys called in to say “If you have a TV, turn it on now.” I ran to the closet and pulled out the little portable TV with a manual antenna. I couldn’t believe what we were watching. Then, we saw the second plane heading to the towers. My immediate reaction was this is ‘a real war of the worlds’ - like a second Pearl Harbor.” Jayne Platt, Aviation Industry, Providence, RI


* “I was just 20 minutes from the Pentagon. I was still at home and had not gone to work yet when I heard the news. I was really shocked. That evening, I drove by the Pentagon to see first hand. It was sickening to see the destruction.” Bruce Boyd, Business Owner, Springfield, VA


* “I was in my car on Route 1 passing by Logan Airport. I started to cry, and I was shaking. As I pulled the car over, I was thinking about how G-d had spared me for some reason, but others had tragically lost their lives. You see, the night before, my client called to cancel our plans to meet in NYC at the WTC for a board meeting. I was supposed to be on the flight out of Boston.” Lisa-Marie Cashman, Media Correspondent, Boston, MA


* “It was the first day of the new school year for the 3 year old preschool class I assistant taught. A friend called to tell us what was going on. It was surreal. We weren't sure what it really meant or what to do. The children played peacefully and nothing seemed different, but I had a feeling much was about to change. As parents came to pick up their children, we looked at each other with bewilderment and wondered what exactly was happening.” Tami Torango Booth, Teacher, South Lyon, MI


* “Upon hearing the news of the first plane crash, my initial hope was that someone had accidentally flown a plane into the building. I recalled a similar event after the first WTC explosion, when an explosion in New York a few weeks later turned out not to be terrorism. When the second plane crashed into the WTC, my heart hoped that an errant news team had flown too close. My head said that it was an attack and the prior one was terrorism as well.


I was at the FBI Academy in my office located on the first floor of the classroom building and always had many students walking by. I sat my TV in the hall so all could watch as events unfolded. On several occasions, there were five or more rows standing in front of the TV. All were mostly speechless throughout the day.

One staff member came into my office white-faced. Her husband worked at the Pentagon and had just called to say he was alive, and the smoke filled building was being evacuated. By the time she came into my office, the news began reporting that a third plane had flown into the Pentagon. Fortunately, her husband escaped unscathed.” Kate Killman, Retired FBI, Bumpass, VA


* I was in my office in Des Plaines, Illinois, just a mile or two from O’Hare Airport. It was eerie, because normally there are planes flying over 24/7, but it got quiet. You could almost hear a pin drop. Then there were patrol cars on every corner. A few of our technicians were working downtown but could not get back to the suburbs, because mass transit was shut down.” Nick Voss, Business Owner, Phoenix, AZ


* “In my office on 26th Street in Manhattan, our conference room had a view of the WTC, looking downtown. I looked up and saw one building with smoke coming out. Then the other was hit. I left the office within five minutes and headed to Penn Station to catch any train headed to Pennsylvania or points south. The NJT train was packed with standing room only. I was in the last car looking out of the rear window. Penn Station NY (and all of NY) was closed after I boarded. No other train followed us out of the NY tunnels and all the way to Trenton, NJ.” Scott Yaw, Executive, Philadelphia, PA


* “My father was at Dallas/Fort Worth airport about to fly to San Antonio for possible entrance into an experimental cancer treatment program. He called me and said the entire airport had shut down. He asked me to turn on the TV and find out what was going on. I saw the second plane fly into the second tower as they were realizing we were under terrorist attack. I called my dad to tell him. He, a man dying of cancer, responded, ‘And we think we have problems.’


I got my three kids out of school. We came back to the house and watched it all unfold. My dad drove to San Antonio for the appointment and drove back late that night. He had been turned down for the experimental cancer treatment. He passed 6 months later.” Colleen Sullivan Simrell, Business Owner, Cumming, GA


* “I was living in California. I was getting ready for work when my sister called me. She was hysterical and demanding to know where I was. You see, I was supposed to be in New York that week just north of Manhattan. My sister was frantic at her home in the Midwest thinking I was in New York. She told me what was going on, and I turned on the TV. I was stunned at what I was seeing and hearing. Stunned is the only word I can use to describe my thoughts in those first few minutes of realization.


After the attack, I had to get home, meaning Tucson. I had a need for the safety of my home and the closeness of my family. The one feeling that stays with me to this day is the day after the attack I was driving from California to Tucson, because, remember, there was no airline service for several days. As I drove through the desert that trip, the feeling of complete despair for our country overwhelmed me as I listened to the radio and the patriotic songs that were playing for the entire trip. I can still ‘feel’ that feeling today when I think of that trip.” Beverly Faull, Business Owner, Tucson, AZ


* “I was nearly killed in the Pentagon attack. I don’t remember much about that day…..” Bob Schneider, International Business Operations Consultant, Washington D.C.


* “I had family in for a long weekend, and Tuesday was my first day back at work. I heard on the radio on my way to work that a plane had run into the WTC with the announcer speculated that it was a small plane and it must have been an incompetent pilot. At my desk, I heard on the radio that another plane had hit the second tower. Some of my staff tuned in an old TV set and watched the coverage.


My wife called me crying and said she heard our country was at war. We had a son in the Navy, stationed in Connecticut, with an office in the Pentagon in D.C. I closed the office upon hearing a plane had hit the Pentagon. I remember walking into the training lab in front of the 24 students in the class and getting choked up noting we were not able to reach my son.


It was a very intense and painful day, and my heart broke for those that lost loved ones. I was also very proud of our police and firemen who stood their ground under horrible circumstances.” Carl DeMusz, Chief Executive Officer, Cleveland, OH


* “I was getting ready for my second day of a new job and feeding my toddler breakfast when the morning news show made the announcement of the attack. I watched in utter horror half ignoring my hungry child. My job was at the International Building in downtown Minneapolis. It was evacuated in case attacks were planned for other large buildings across the nation. Being a new mom, I felt a complete sense of horror over how quickly "life as we know it" can be taken away from us. Now a mom of three children, I am grateful for those who fight for us to be free. I'm grateful for those who have lost their lives, so we can live the lives we do.” Cami Zimmer, Political Strategist/Business Owner, Minneapolis, MN


* “I was in my high school computer lab when I heard of the attacks. The first thing that struck my mind was the level of denial in many of my classmates. Many were downplaying what was happening saying things like ‘It has to be a practical joke.’ or ‘They meant to target globalization and business, not the US.’ The one thing no one at that moment wanted to consider was we were indeed attacked by people that wanted to kill Americans." Angel Guma, U.S. Army Specialist, Stationed in Afghanistan


* “My first reaction was ‘Oh my God!’ Then I cried. I worked in the exact area and used to take the path to the WTC. I just didn't happen to be there that day. I thought of the homeless man I used to give money to when I had time to go into the book store.” Sue Allen, Photographer/Business Owner, New York City, NY


* “On the way to work I heard about the "accident" of the first plane hitting the building. I honestly didn't think much about it. But as I was parking my car, I heard about the second plane hitting the other building and I immediately knew it wasn't an accident. Something was wrong. At work, the news of the second plane hitting the second building had people scrambling to find a TV. I saw a reporter talking about the WTC but was in DC and had the Pentagon in the background reporting an explosion behind them. They didn't say it, but I had a strong feeling it was another plane.


I continued to finish up the payroll, so everyone would be paid on Friday. I then left to pick up my daughter from daycare and heard about the plane crash in Shanksville. I remember crying on the turnpike. I was crying for all the Americans that were in danger. At home, I was glued to the TV and every now and then, my daughter would come over and hug me. She saw me crying but didn't know why. I tried to tell her what was going on, but she didn't understand. Now 10 years later, she understands what happened but not why it happened.” Raeann Hofkin, CPP, Philadelphia, PA


* I was in San Jose when I saw the news report of the first plane crashing into the WTC. I never imagined it was anything other than a terrible accident. When I saw the footage of the second plane crashing into the Twin Towers, I knew it was clearly an attack. I was overwhelmed with both anger and sadness that an act of this magnitude could occur on American soil.” Leon M. Strausser, Jr., U.S. Air Force Retired, Senior Master Sergeant, Salt Lake City, UT


* “I was traveling on business in San Francisco and was participating in a conference call with a company in the Midwest. I had the TV on to a morning news show and muted. During my conference call, I asked if the Sears Tower was on fire. Then they said it was the WTC. We wrapped up our call, and I saw the second plane hit the second tower live. It was surreal. Most people in California weren’t up yet and didn’t know.” Lesley Lane Woodring, Data Information Executive, Scottsdale, AZ


* “I was over the Atlantic ocean flying back from a 20th Anniversary trip to Paris, France. I had to spend a few days in St Johns, Newfoundland and fly across the Atlantic twice in twenty hours to finally get back into the U.S. at midnight on Friday/Saturday. KLM was awesome!” Darrell Galloway, Chairman at GAGOP 11th District, Atlanta, GA


* “It started off as any ordinary day. I began work at my desk at 7:30 in the morning with CNN running on a big screen in the background. I saw the ‘Breaking News’ banner flashing, and the announcer was excitedly reading impromptu copy. He described accompanying video of a horrendous scene of a plane crashing into the North Tower of the WTC.


I was mesmerized that morning in front of the TV as the live accounts of a second plane careening into the South Tower went by in a flash. I was absolutely captivated as I watched additional reports of two following plane strikes, first at the Pentagon and then in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. America had been changed forever.


Like most viewers, I made little sense of the first crash of the American Airlines jet into the WTC’s North Tower. Once the United Airlines flight crashed into the South Tower, however, it was readily apparent to me that the U.S. was under siege. By the middle of that afternoon, I was prepared to accept the conclusion that America was the victim of jihad by al-Qaeda.” WB Freeman, Executive Consultant, Des Moines, IA


* “I was in bed when I turned on my radio and heard the news. I jumped up with a start hoping that it was a prank being played by the local radio. I turned on the TV and froze on my couch when I saw the first visual.” Ajay Kaul Sr. IT Manager, San Diego, CA


* “I had spent the night before at my mom’s house on the west coast and woke at 6:30 AM. She told me to look at the TV. Reporters were saying a commuter plane had crashed, and I realized they were not seeing the footage. The gaping smoking burning hole was nearly the width of the WTC. Then another plane hit, and I knew for sure we were being attacked. I was on the Observation Deck on 9-11-2000. What difference timing makes. God Bless us everyone.


Also, I had an uncle living in Labrador, Canada. Many U.S. bound flights landed there, and those great Canadians played the role of gracious host to stranded travelers unable to land in the U.S. for about a week. Thanks again to Canada and friends from around the world.” Jennifer Wise, Consumer Goods, Spokane WA


* “I was at work, at my desk, and my boss's wife called him to report a plane had hit the WTC. Several of us then got on the Internet and watched the situation develop. We fanned out across the building searching for various departments with televisions and watched the days events unfold in horror.” Mark Kalinowski, Hospital Safety Coordinator, Buffalo, NY


* “I was in car on my way to a meeting . My very first thought was, ‘Oh no, we are at war, and it is in our country.’ I thought someone was going to attack all the high rise buildings in the major cities. Then Pearl Harbor came into my thoughts. I was very frightened.” Barbara Bach, Senior Instructor, Dallas, TX


* “I was on my way to work sitting at a stop light ready to turn into the parking garage when I heard the report on the radio. I thought another private plane had hit accidentally. Because I worked in a government building, Capitol Police sent us home immediately. Like the rest of America, I sat in complete shock for the rest of the day watching TV, crying for the loss of life and devastation, and cursing the bastards that dared do this. I could not imagine the amount of ignorance, anger and hatred these acts took to do. My thoughts went to what a way to squander God's gift of life.” Laura Fanelli, Legislative Aide at State Senator Len Suzio, PR Executive, Hartford, CT


* “I heard about the first plane hitting on a news cast on a local sports talk show while I was on my way in to work. My co-worker who shared space in our offices had his TV on. We saw the second plane hit live. The rest of the day we all gathered around the TV and watched the events. Unbelievably to us, a Muslim doctor cheered when one of the towers fell. He was escorted off premises and lost his position within a few days.” Kurt Hehmeyer, Healthcare Technology, Cleveland, OH


* “That morning my neighbor phoned me at 7:30 AM. She was crying as she told me of the terrible attack. I remained in my chair that day and into the night staring at the television in shock. I wondered how something like this could happen here in the U.S. I never felt so helpless in my life or felt such anger. Never had I felt such grief and pain as I did for the innocent victims and the brave men and women who lost their lives attempting to save them. I cried that entire day. Reliving the memory of that day makes me cry all over again.” Randy Thomas, Sales Executive, Scottsdale, AZ


* I was on my way to work in Los Angeles when a co-worker called me about the first attack. My heart sank, because I knew that it was not an accident. I immediately thought about how the idea for this attack came from testimony in the trial of the first WTC bomber.” James Meyers, Entertainment, Boston, MA


* “I was driving to work. I saw the first tower on fire and was transfixed in horror. As the day progressed, I found out I had lost two friends in the tragedy. Father Mike was a man who had touched my life since I was a child. He was a kind gentle and insightful man whom exuded love with each word that crossed his lips or his gentle touch on your shoulder to reassure you in some of the most difficult times. My other friend was a childhood friend whom was a mother and a kind and gentle soul. The silent night ended with a lone NYC taxi taking a woman home while I was sitting on my stoop.” Kathy Pavelec, State of NJ, Hawthorne, NJ


* “Ironically, I had a client meeting with the Aviation Department at O'Hare Airport. My partner called me to tell me to turn on a TV. The moment I turned it on, the second plane hit the second tower. My heart sank, for I knew immediately this was no accident. I was in shock. Then it turned to grief. Two years later I found out a friend from high school died in the first tower. It still hurts to see the footage and that it is taking so long to rebuild. The 10 year anniversary will be tough, but let's remember how America came together and all of the heroes that died that day.” Scott Catino, Business Owner, Chicago, IL


In the recently aired National Geographic Channel’s George W. Bush: The 9/11 Interview, Former President Bush recounts his reaction to being told in a phone call from President Obama that 9/11 mastermind Osama Bin Laden had been killed by Navy Seals.


“I was grateful. I didn’t feel any sense of happiness or jubilation. I felt a sense of gratitude that justice had been done. Eventually September 11 will be a date on the calendar like Pearl Harbor day. For those of us who lived through it, it will be a day we will never forget.”


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