Manufacturing Isn’t Dead in Wisconsin (or the U.S.)

Export Boom Fuels Factory Town’s Revival –

It’s more a story of exchange rates (weak dollar) than Lean, but manufacturing isn’t dead yet, especially in Wisconsin.

As someone who re-opened a closed factory says:

“America got tired of manufacturing,” Mr. Martinez says. “But it remains a great way to make money.”

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Some handy stats on the U.S. manufacturing economy from the article:

Nationally, only about 10% of the U.S. work force is currently employed in manufacturing. That’s down from a peak of about 42% in the early 1940s, and about 18% in the 1980s.

But while manufacturing now represents about 12% of gross domestic product, down from 15% a decade ago, exports have surged. Last year, the U.S. exported about $1 trillion worth of goods, up 39% from 2002, when the dollar started its decline. The National Association of Manufacturers, a trade group, estimates U.S. exports will hit $1.1 trillion this year. A weaker dollar makes U.S. goods more price-competitive in Europe and other lands with a strong currency.

Now let’s hope the surviving and newly-opened factories are also applying Lean methods…

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Do you know of similar stories from your part of the country? Factories being re-opened or mini-manufacturing booms?

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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an book titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. Nicholas Hebb says

    Unfortunately, that WSJ link seems to be dead now. I would have liked to read that.

    This is an encouraging story, and I hope they can survive after the dollar rebounds – which I think it will eventually.

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