Wednesday May 02 2012
Rocklin business promotes buying American
By: Teresa O'Hanlon, Placer Herald Correspondent
Manufacturing facts label meant to motivate consumers to buy American products
Robert Lenney, owner of the Rocklin-based Gutterglove, Inc. manufacturer and distributor of micro-mesh gutter protection systems, wants to make it easier for consumers to buy American. Like most customers, Lenney finds it difficult to remember a time when he could walk into any store and easily purchase an American made product. It?s a consumer reality he wants to change. ?Little do manufacturers know that U.S. raw materials and U.S. part makers? prices are getting more and more competitive with the foreign markets,? said Lenney who recently moved his company?s manufacturing from China back to Rocklin. ?We would have laid off five workers last January and now we?re projecting 20 new fulltime jobs by the end of the year.? Lenney also boasts a line of products that are close to 90 percent American made, including parts and raw materials. When he researched Federal Trade Commission rules to label his products, he found government guidelines vague and unclear. ?Why doesn?t the FTC require all U.S. manufacturers to put a label on their box describing what percent of the raw materials and what percent of the parts of their product are made in the USA?? questioned Lenney. ?The label should be like how the Food and Drug Administration requires food makers to make their nutrition facts label on their boxes. The FDA requires that because they want the consumer to know what they are eating.? Lenney and his national sales executive, John Quincy Adams IV, great-grandson of Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams, have created an exemplar manufacturing facts label. They are marketing the new branding system in hopes the FTC will adopt it as a standard to express the percentage of U.S. raw materials, parts, and labor for assembly of a finished product. Gutterglove, Inc is sponsoring this start-up company, MadeInUSAFacts.com, where businesses can apply online for manufacturing facts labels, list their manufacturing and materials information, and allow consumers to view their product profiles in order to make better informed decisions on buying American products. The company website launched Thursday, May 3. Lenney is promoting the site with a free offer for the first five Placer County businesses that sign up. ?We want to give five labels away for free in Placer County and we?re putting a QR code on the bottom of every label so consumers can scan that to their phone for more product information,? shared Lenney. ?The only information we are disclosing is the percentage of raw materials and assembly percentages in the U.S. and other countries. Under the percentages we?re listing all product materials.? Adams said MadeInTheUSAFacts.com will serve as a tool to improve the economy by creating business opportunities. ?We want to target all manufacturers and get awareness out and educate,? stressed Adams. ?If a certain manufacturer has a low percentage of their product made in the United States, we want to work on increasing their percentage of product made here. We want to link these companies up with American manufacturers.? Lenney and Adams are betting American consumers would be more likely to purchase a product revealing American made parts and assembly. Gutterglove Warehouse Technician Jason Triola is thankful for his new manufacturing job in Rocklin. ?It?s nice that we can make the gutter protectors right here,? said Triola. ?It feels great to have a job in this market.? While other businesses have created websites to help consumers identify American made products, Lenney said his online tie to product manufacturing facts labels will make it easier for consumers to buy American on the spot and eventually help create more jobs. ?We are going to pitch to the FTC that they require all U.S. manufacturers to have a label like this put on their product boxes,? said Lenney. ?I?m sure it will be like a David vs. Goliath situation, but hey, David won.? Adams has seen a trend in the rise of U.S. manufacturing positions because outsourcing jobs is not as profitable and fuel and shipping costs are escalating. ?China labor costs are going up every year,? he noted. ?A lot of manufacturers are asking for American workers right now and they?re not finding the skilled American worker learning the trades anymore. If we start educating the American public about the jobs that are available, maybe it will get the unemployed back to work.?