National Die: Made In The USA Statement
What is it like for a product to state that it is “Made in the USA”? What does this really mean, especially in today’s economy? Is this just a cliche? Considering the state of the manufacturing industry, is it even worth discussing, since so many manufacturing jobs have disappeared to foreign shores? Answering these questions has become the essence of my project.
The manufacturing sector sustained heavy job losses over the last few decades. Competition from low-wage countries, such as China and Mexico, and the weak global growth since the 2008-2009 recession are events that have occurred leading to a sharp decline in activity in this sector.
Currently, however, the industry is beginning to regain some ground. Cutting costs and providing customers with the best products possible is the way these manufacturing companies are battling back. Small shop manufacturing has been a great way to cut costs and to reduce burden on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), thus helping them to better compete on a global scale.
Tool and die makers are at the top of the ladder in the metalworking trades. Machinists and tool and die makers set up and operate a variety of computer-controlled and mechanically-controlled machine tools. They are very versatile in using their hands to create complicated eyelet tools, dies, and gauges where accurate application and a high degree of ability are required. With these skills, tool and die makers are a tremendous asset to any manufacturing facility.
The National Die Company is is a world-class leader in the custom manufacturing of top quality, high volume, custom, deep drawn metal stampings such as eyelets, and is the subject of this photographic series. I will introduce you to the members of the Shop team. The photos will highlight their progression of producing eyelets for one of the Shop’s largest customers, Ziggity poultry watering systems.
The Shop’s capabilities allow them to serve clients in any industry and in any country. They have earned this valuable reputation because they have the ability to redesign parts made by more expensive methods. Millions of these products are sold each year to a variety of customers in the automotive, electrical, appliance, medical, and engine industries, just to name a few.
Everybody in the Shop contributes to the quality and integrity of the products they produce and is responsible for the success of the manufacturing process. These are people who have between seventeen years and over forty years experience of working at National Die. As I spoke with each member of the Shop team, their eyes lit up with excitement and pride as they described to me how they perform their duties with old-school craftsmanship. Clearly, these are not just jobs but rather careers. This is what it means to be “Made In The USA”!
*** Any image found in this series or on my website is available as a print purchase! Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.