"The Last Days of a Low-Tech Factory"


    U.S. hanger factories lose out to Chinese manufacturers – March 5, 2007: “

    This isn't a Lean article, just an article that caught my eye some time back, detailing the demise of a factory that had production moved to China. It's often easy to think that an ESOP (Employee Stock Ownership Plan) might better align incentives to keep production and jobs here, but not in this case:

    Already, though, foreign-made hangers were invading the market, and in 2001 the ESOP's board signed a distribution agreement with a factory in Shanghai. Why Laidlaw's American employee-owners would think it wise to invest $2.8 million to shift production overseas is not clear, but it gets even weirder.

    In 2002 some of Laidlaw's domestic competitors petitioned the U.S. government to impose a tariff on Chinese imports. Laidlaw wrote checks to lobbyists totaling $441,000 to try to block it. President Bush killed the measure. Whatever your feelings about free trade, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Laidlaw's employee-owners became agents of their own demise.”

    Agents of their own demise. Sheesh.

    Check out the article, it's a sobering, if not interesting read.

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    Mark Graban
    Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


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