Some food for thought- Made in Asia. Long and lengthy diatribe.
Think about this carefully, take some time to let it sink in before answering.
I'm no economist, not a businessman either (did own a bar years ago). Just a fly fisher with some questions.
Having recieved a beautiful pair of new Simms wading boots (made in China) for Christmas and a few posts on a previous thread, I wanted to start this thread.
Back when I was growing up, "Made In Japan" meant cheap products. I'm talking about the late '50's and 60's. Chrylser, Chevrolet, Ford, RCA, Curtis Mathis, General Electric ruled the roost & ran the show.
Then Sony , Honda, Datsun, Toyota, Nikon, Panasonic etc. came along and became a dominant force in the business world.
Today, because of the global economy, and how much product that used to be made in the United States, England, Germany etc. are now being made/built overseas (China, Korea- Asia).
It seems like big box stores like Walmart-largest retailer in the world have nothing but Made in China tags on everything stocked on the shelves. Are these products getting better in the past few years then they initally were? Can we buy something that's made in the United States anymore?
Just to keep it in the fishing realm, I'll pick on The House of Hardy, Orvis, Outcast and Simms.
Are the Asians putting out better goods- Hardy rods and reels, or Orvis flyreels, (we'll add Loop for tlcrep) when they used to be built in Great Britan, and Sweden, or Simms waders and boots that used to be built in the U.S. now made in China? Things like float tubes/ kickboats (Outcast, Creek Co. some Bucks Bags etc.) that are now made overseas. Are companies like Hardy or Orvis, Outcast, Simms and others dependant on the reputation of being a "Hardy" or "Orvis", Simms or "Outcast", without good quality control?
How long would a company last, charging the same amount of money for a product built in Asia, that used to be built in the U.S., or GB, Sweden, if it were an inferior product to the original? I see on ebay, certain reels and rods that are going for twice the money they originally were, because they were made in GB.
I know the Made In the USA means a lot to me and others, but do U.S. manufactures (businessmen) really look for the lowest wage, and the highest profit and go overseas for it and don't care about the consumer? Do they check quality control once in a while and depend on reputation to carry them through the years? Or do they want to survive, and to do that they have to go overseas. Do they look for the right factory to do business with, to build their product to keep the brand name among the leaders, or just throw a dart at a list of Chinese manufacturers and go with the one the dart hit?
Would the U.S. or British companies have their people live there to keep thing in check, or pay a local, better money to check tolerances, quality of thread wraps, materials etc.? Make sure it's built correctly and to specs and/or within tolerances? To keep the Hardy, Orvis, Simms, Outcast name from floundering and going down the tube.
Do we give them a chance, or do we even have a choice in giving them a chance?
What's the alternative? Or is there one.
Ross reels has dropped some reels people liked, and they have, like Redington, gone overseas to have some products built. How long is it until Winston (the main line), Sage, T&T, Orvis (main line) move over to compete.
So, what's your views, thoughts on this subject.
Japan and China are too different countries with different governments who perform different quality control. I would not put Japan and China in the same category. China gets a bad rap because they are known for not keeping with standards over a period of time. Many small tackle manufacturers have found that producing in China makes for cheaper production costs equaling greater profit. But they have also found that the second shipment is not as good as the first shipment.
I work at Cabela's, use to work in footwear, I always had people coming in saying I want a Gore-Tex boot that will last, is under $80, and made in USA. When our store first open we carried two boots that were made in the USA. Both were Gore-Tex from good companies and were little over $250 a piece. Cheap, made in USA, and good quality is not used often in the same sentence. What I find ironic is how currently made in the USA means high quality good products when during the Colonial era stuff made in America was consider cheap. That is why Britian had colonies to begin with.
I have a question for everyone. If I sold four knives which of these four knives would you buy? All four knives are same level.
Knife 1 - Made in USA
Knife 2 - Made in Japan
Knife 3 - Made in China
Knife 4 - Made in Damascus
I've bought a few Chinese made Orvis BBS reels this fall, and they seem just
dandy. I did notice that some of the spools wobbled, but cherry picked the
good ones. I don't know if the GB Orvis reels wobbled, so....
The Cabelas catalog arrived today, and I looked at the asian-made Ross
reels, and also the asian-made Sage rods. My Okuma SLV reels work great,
and are made in Taiwan. They retail for $60, but I paid $40 on ebay (new).
According to the CIA World Fact Book : https://www.cia.gov/library/publicat...rylisting.html , the per capita income in Taiwan is $30,000,
and $5,700 in China. No way am I going to spend $200 on a reel made in
China, unless it's the absolute cat's meow, and I can't live without it.
Sage has Gen 5 rods from somewhere in Asia now, but they're half
the cost of the USA made models. I can maybe see that, but if they go
the way of Ross (80% of production in Asia), I'd look elsewhere. Forget this
rush to Asia, especially when the name is a major selling point. I'll buy
used, stock up on what I need for the future, and buy quality made in USA
products as much as possible. If Winston wants to become the next Pflueger,
so be it. Tom Morgan is able to roll rods without a factory, and this is the
sort of product I'd look for. Of course Tom Morgan could find himself spec'ing
out rods to some asian factory 10 years from now !
I've been thinking about this topic quite a bit myself, Mojo. I play guitar,
and so many well-known names have become simply that: names made in
asia. Martin guitars are importing guitars from Mexico now, and some well-known classical makers are having guitars built in China (at a steep discount,
however). I owned a Canadian-made classical, but never considered it an
EDIT: Taiwan's average per capita income is $30,000!
Great thread, mojo
We chatted about this in 2wt reels, and I don't want to start any trouble.
Years ago I worked as a electrician in a steel mill. I was a proud member of Local 110 United Steel Workers of America Union.
This was before I went to college. I could live a middle class life with company paid Blue Cross and Blue Shield. Good retirement and nice Holiday and Vacations.
Houses were cheap and wonderful American cars were cheap. I could buy a new car every two years and I lived in a nice middle class house.
I had four wonderful kids. Then insurance covered everything. A six day stay in a semi-private room didn't cost me a dime!!
We made the Magnesite that goes into the bricks used in steel mills.
Around 1980, Japan started shipping high grade steel to the US.
We had old WWII technology that was no where as good as Japan had. After we bombed Japan, we gave them so much money they built modern computer run steel mills.
In '82 our government only purchased high grade steel...... only made in Japan.
We shut down in '83. The word was that "we were lazy, stupid, overpaid union workers"
The Honda and Toyota replaced our Chevys and Fords.
I could see things starting even back then.
We invented the transistor and microprocessor, but the US can't compete with the overseas engineers.
Mr. Sony invented all the breakthroughs in high tech!! Our engineers aren't that brite and are only a$$ kissers trying to keep their job and make more bucks!
Even if we wanted to start making high tech stuff like a bigscreen LCD, we just can't do it anymore!!
And it's not just the money.
Overseas schools are way past us now! A 12th grade Asian learns Trig and Science. They respect the teachers.
Our 12th graders wear baggy pants and put their hats on backwards. Most can't read, and nobody studies math or science anymore.
The rich kids know how to cheat on tests and all want to become investment bankers. If something new comes along, they will get the Japanese to design it and get the Chinese to make it.
I don't want tlcrep to get mad, but our custom rod builders use old technology to make the rods. They buy the components, probably from China, and put the rod together with wrapping and some glue. They would say "they're all a little different, all made with tender loving care"
The Asian will laugh at that statement. He knows that consistency makes high quality. They have the modern graphite factories there and put thousands of rods on high tech apparatus to bond the guides and cork perfect every time.
TV's, cameras, computers, fly rods, fly reels, autos, guns, guitars...... the $0.25/hour overseas workers will make a better, higher quality product every time.
I love America. But I can speak honestly without keeping my head in the sand.
Think about this: If a Asian worker would ever make a bad rod, he would be whipped with a cane.
Honda has the highest quality in the world....... we can't even come close to that.
Soon China will become better quality than Japan. Japan is outsourcing just like we are.
This makes me sad, but America doesn't have the edge anymore.
If anyone is mad at the high price for a China rod....... blame the lying, American importer who jacks the price way up to become a multi-millionaire.
This is capitalism. It's what we have now.
Agree; this is an interesting thread that asks a question that's much larger than what fishing gear you buy and how you feel about the location of its manufacture. It asks a macro-economic question about the evolution of economies and economic loyalty; set in the context of the evolution of our global economy.
All economies rise and fall. History shows us this; almost without exception.
In the first stage, the economy is just getting off the ground; struggling to stay alive; hungry for success and willing to sacrifice a lot to make an incremental improvement. You find this type of young struggling economy in the early Egyptian empires, the Greek city-states, the Roman Empire and dozens of others throughout history; some well-knnown, some not; including a very important one to we Americans; the establishment of the first US colonies in Jamestown and Plymouth Plantation. Jamestown struggled and died. Plymouth gave birth to the US as we know it today. A very good thing for all of us.
As the economy grows, life gets better for the members; populations increase in size, they become more heterogenous, businesses emerge and, in general, lifestyles improve for everyone. Translated into today's US economy, we simply get more; either our employers provide it or the government does. We become acustomed to a better way of life; some in the past have called it the "good life". You used to hear that phrase alot in the late '50's and early '60's; you still hear it some today: "he's living the good life", "she's living the good life", "they're living the good life", etc.
All this would be great; except for one thing. And that's the macroeconomics of the global economy. For while the US has been living the good life for several decades now (I know it doesn't feel like it today, particularly after the financial meltdow that we are now living through), there have been other first stage struggling economies that are hungry for economic, social and personal success. Enter Japan and China, Korea and India.
Japan was the first of the post-WW 2 "phoenix" economies to rise from the ashes. It's tough economic times were in the '40's and '50's. One of the posters was right. I can remember my parents not purchasing certain products because they were made in Japan. I remember that things that came with the label "made in Japan" were flimsy and fell apart quickly. Now, as others have pointed out, made in Japan is a plus; it signifies a quality product.
The next big economy to rise has been China. It's in it's first stage of real economic growth and it's coming on very strongly and very quickly. Made in China was a negative 2 decades ago. It still wasn't a plus a single decade ago. It's either a plus/neutral/negative now; depending on the goods produced. For most simple goods it's a plus. As the complexity of the goods increases the trend is, at this point, still towards the negative; simply because the technology used to make the product(s) is complex; requiring more time to transfer it, get it established and start making quality goods. But they are coming.
Another question that you might be asking. If it took hundreds of years for the successful establishment of some of the economies that I've mentioned above (the Greeks, the Romans, the early US settlers), then why and how can these new economies (Japan, Korea, China, India) rise up so quickly? The answer is pretty straightforward. All of these economies have actually had thousands of years to establish themselves; they were simply suppressed within the last few decades due to some form of socially catastrophic event. For Japan, it was WW 2. For China it was 50 years of Communistic rule. For India is was the move to independence .
These economies are coming; they're coming fast and nothing, in my opinion, short of war, or some other catastrophic event, will stop that. They look a lot like the US used to look 100-200 years ago. They're hungry for success, they're willing to work for very little (so, resulting low COGs), their products are continuing to get better and they want the life that they perceive the developed world has (US and EU). They will get it in time. And in time, they too, will face what the US and EU economies are now facing; strong competition from other early stage economies. In my opinion, this economic evolution game will play itself out as long as there are large economies that are still at the early stages of their development. Once they are all developed; which we will not likely see in any of our lifetimes, the game will change and the paradigm that underlies the evolution of the next global economy will become a very interesting topic again; because at that point, it will be all about very small incremental improvements.
The real disadvangtage that most of us have is that we tend to think of life and our economies (how good our life is / feels) in terms of days, weeks, months and a few years; certainly not more than a decade. If we look back further, it's easy to "see the train coming"; the telltale signs of the future of the US economy are with us now and have actually been with us for decades. We've been receiving economic "wake up calls" for some time now, but not many people want to wake up; the dream just feels too good. We had a real good wake-up call in October, when the mortgage/greed spiral caught up with each and every one of us. We will likely receive more.
So, as far as purchasing goods from China, which I think was the genesis of Mojo's thread, at this point, the only answer that I can come away with is that it's a matter of personal choice; essentially the choice of loyalty vs. money. The good news is that it's one that everyone can make. And one that everyone will make. Personally, I buy American whenever I can, but in the current economic climate, when you can hold 2 virtually identical items in your hand and one is 75% less expensive than the other; for instance a bamboo fly rod, it makes that choice challenging.
Very interesting thread that has lots of emotion surrounding it no matter what hobby, business or activity you particiapte in. One word of caution to everyone though is keeping fact from fiction. There are lots of stats and figures getting passed around that may not always be true, such as Simms producing it's waders in China and Ross producing 80% of their product over seas. These are both misreprensentations of what the companies are really doing.
Simms does import many products, some because they can be built better over seas and others because they just can't get them built in the states in either the quanitity needed or for the price. One thing they build from the ground up, right here in Bozeman Montana, is their high end waders. They start with sheets of Gore Material and neoprene rubber and sew, glue, tape and stitch the wader from start to finish. The boots are brougth in from China primarily because we don't have the production facilities in this country to build as many or as high of a quality of product. The boots are designed and built to Simms specifications and many times in conjunction with other high quality companies such as Vibram Soles. Clothing is another product they import because of a failing textiles industry in this country.
Ross has made a very concerted effort to seperate their two companies and it appears that it hasn't worked very well. Ross operates Ross USA and Ross Worldwide. They setup the company to distinquish what is made overseas and what is made in the USA. The reels, rods and accessories that are branded under the Ross Worldwide line are imported and sold in both speciality retailers as well as large box stores. The Ross USA products are all made in Colorado and are only sold in speciality retailers with a few select large distributors as well, ie Cabela's. If you want to support US made products be sure and purchase from their USA line of products.
Winston and Sage have also had to jump on the lower end markets with some of their lines. This has all been market driven and in my opinion comes from Orvis getting it's butt kicked back in the late 80's and early 90's when they introduced the Breakage warranties to recapture market share from companies such as Sage and Winston who were building better rods. This led to high prices when the others followed suit to cover the cost of replacing rods that have been broken time after time. This is a completely different discussion to have but in my opinion Warranties have been the single most detremential program all the rod companies took up for the health of their business. They would all probably be healthier if they would have kept the policy of pay as you go to fix the rod and keep the prices down to where the rods are more affordable. I don't think the warranties have really benefited the consumer as we pay a much higher price for the product because the manufacturer has had to build in a few fixes into the price of the rods. It has also not benefited the rod companies, espeically the ones who built of built rods in the US. It led to the onslaught of rods that could be made cheaper overseas and in order to compete the big companies have had to follow suit. I think we would all be better off had the warranties not been brought into the market.
Basically we all have to ask our selves some tough questions and decide on what is more important. Buying things cheap or paying more and keeping people in this country employed. It is going to be a tough road ahead and I hope that we can come together as a nation to keep people working and money circulating throughout our own country.
Pocono, Thank you for adding the historical perspective! I have a BA and
MA in History, and you 100% correct. The USA is a relative new-comer
in global history, and China, Japan, and Europe have all experienced much
more social/political/economic turmoil than anything in the USA (short of the
I do not subscribe to the silly notion that we will never again be a manufacturing nation. We only need to look at countries that have been virtually obliterated, and then rebuilt in a decade or two: post-WWII Europe, Russia, Japan, China, etc. I would add that many people in the USA do not want to build things in a factory. After the Depression of the 1930's, manufacturers found themselves competing for labor, especially when the USA was really the only large country left with an intact industrial base.
As large manufacturers leave or disappear, it will be interesting to see if
small manufacturers take their place. Even more exciting will be the rise
of cottage industries, such as Tom Morgan, Peak Enterprises, etc. I know one
of the co-inventers of the Renzetti vise, and he is currently building bamboo and glass rods.
My faith in the American Spirit remains quite strong. One example I often use
the ownership of gas station and convenience stores. I don't have any statistics to cite, but we all know that a huge number of these businesses
are owned by Near-East immigrants. Why? Because they are able to recognize
the small business opportunities available here, and pursue the dream. If
we have failed our children in any way, it is in training them to recognize a
business opportunity. After getting my MA in History, I went to work for an
insurance company. I quickly realized that the deck building I had been doing
during the summers was much more lucrative, and went into the building
trades full-time. Sort of a no-brainer !
EDIT: Hi Biggie, I just throw out the 80% figure for Ross reels. Looking at the Cabelas catolog I received yesterday, it would appear
half of "Ross" reel models are made here, and the other half there . What that equates to in total sales for USA vs asian-made
reels I just don't know. The prominent marketing feature of all Ross reels is the Ross name, however.