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There is a blog here in the Ethereal Land called Chickenman that I have not advertised much because I wanted to see if his blog would last. Now that the blog has something like a track record, I thought that I would give it little more exposure.

I think I can safely say that if you have any interest in American manufacturing you should be reading Chickenman faithfully. The subtitle for his blog is Life at Acme Tool Co and he faithfully relays what he sees in American manufacturing. And what the Chicken Man sees is quite enlightening.

His peculiar vantage point is just about perfect for reporting on American manufacturing. He is close enough to floor that he actually talks with the lowborn on a regular basis, and yet high enough up that he glimpses the broader issues that concern management. This unique perspective makes for some interesting reading.

It is also sickening.

To my mind, the observations that the Chickenman makes go a long way to substantiating a long-held belief of mine that MBAs are the biggest cause of the decline of America’s manufacturing. China’s currency manipulation, lower labor cost in third world countries, and legacy costs are all problems that are easily dealt with. But MBAs who are trained in accounting, the manipulation of people’s psychology (called marketing), and various methods of “process improvement” are a plague of biblical proportions.

People who have MBAs generally can’t lead real people or make real things. But they can produce slick presentations and they value other people according to their ability to do the same. Were it not for the fact that some people managed to get off the floor and into management and some managers have good leadership training from the military, we would be in even worse shape.

As it is, American manufacturing is a downward slope that is only made worse by the fact that everyone from CEOs to the average worker wants to blame cheap foreign labor for all their problems. The fact is that quality of managers in American manufacturing is terrible. It should be a national scandal that Toyota puts more power and responsibility in the hands of its American floor workers than your average American-managed factory does.

If you treat your floor labor as just another input that is easily replaceable, you will end up with floor labor that is easily replaceable and adds no value to your company. You can then use that fact to justify moving the factory to another location, but you will find that your prospects still suck.

I think this is one of the reasons that the trades that American manufacturing relies on are in such poor shape. If you don’t value your skilled help, you will not have any.

But that is just my personal rant. Chickenman does not get into such broad topics. He mostly just presents the picture as he sees it and lets you decide what to make of it. So if you want to get an idea of what American manufacturing is like beyond the statistics you read in your business publications, go read his blog.

2 Responses to “The Fall of American Manufacturing as chronicled by Chickenman”

  1. on 17 Sep 2007 at 10:37 amSteven Capozzola

    The bottom line is JOBS. The U.S. lost 46,000 manufacturing jobs in August 2007. More significantly, the ongoing losses are taking a cumulative toll on communities throughout the country. We need to adequately enforce our trade laws, and hold countries like China accountable for illegal trading practices such as currency manipulation. Otherwise, we’ll continue to shed manufacturing jobs.
    http://www.manufacturethis.org

  2. on 02 Oct 2007 at 12:15 pmSteven Capozzola

    Please share your stories about lost manufacturing jobs.

    The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a national, non-partisan group dedicated to strengthening U.S. manufacturing. AAM’s blog, ManufactureThis.org, covers issues related to U.S. manufacturing jobs and is compiling firsthand accounts of factory closings and lost jobs.

    AAM invites people to share their stories about lost manufacturing jobs, either by emailing Steven Capozzola at scapozzola@aamfg.org, or by posting a comment directly on the blog, http://www.manufacturethis.org.

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