Fenestration Day Speakers Promote “Made in the USA”November 4th, 2013 by DWM Magazine
Fenestration Day ended Friday with a passionate presentation regarding Made in the USA given by Julie Reiser, president and co-founder of Made in USA Certified, and Mark Davis, executive director of the Earthwise Group.
Reiser started out the session by informing attendees that there is a massive growing consumer demand for Made in the USA products.
“There are trends now toward building American-made homes,” said Reiser. “It’s kind of like green, but we like to say there is nothing more green than red white and blue.”
She also talked about how the tide has taken a drastic turn from recent years when everyone was talking about how outsourcing is the way to go.
Why is certification important?
“Because there are a lot of fraudulent claims and there is also confusion,” said Reiser. “There are ‘made in America’ claims,” for example. “Some people say ‘made in America’ but it actually was made in North America [Canada],” said Reiser.
That’s why she started Made in the USA Certified which has now certified 3,500 products through a full supply chain audit. Each product that qualifies for the Made in the USA certification mark gets a unique identifying number that tracks back to the audit documents.
“We are like detectives and get the country of origin for each product,” said Reiser when an attendee asked about a hardware product that may include zinc. “We have to find out where that zinc comes from.”
She also pointed out that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and other sources have guidelines regarding “Made in the USA” but “it all gets very confusing.” There are different laws that have different exemptions for different employers.
“There is so much gray area there. All or virtually all is not clear,” said Davis, referring to the FTC guidelines.
“California says you are either 100 percent or nothing. Not a screw can be off,” said Reiser.
But with Made in the USA Certified, there are different levels of certification. For example, 100 percent, 90 percent, more than 75 percent and more than 51 percent.
“You can’t get zinc or rubber here,” said Reiser. “Because we have outsourced our supply chain so deeply we can’t even get these things here.”
So the program won’t penalize a company for one screw due to its different levels.
“From a business standpoint this is a huge branding opportunity,” said Reiser.
It’s one that Davis took advantage of and told attendees he is more than pleased with the results. “We wanted it to be the first one to get into this,” said Davis. Indeed, it is the first window company to be Made in the USA Certified.
“Made in the USA is unique because there is an investment required on the part of the manufacturer,” he said. “Not everyone is going to buy into this,” he said.
Davis added that in a competitive environment it’s just another opportunity for differentiation. It’s also a program that Earthwise customers have latched onto.
“This is one of our most popular marketing initiatives,” said Davis. “I think all our manufacturers are promoting it and that’s rare. Sometimes it’s hard to find initiatives that apply to all our customers but this one does.”
He also pointed out that the Earthwise Group has grown 37 percent in the past two years and he believes some of this is due to the company’s participation in this certification program.