Discussing the reality of where products originate

By |  September 24, 2020


Clay Albright was interested in buying an American flag for his family business. Albright didn’t want just any American flag, though. He wanted an American flag that was actually made in America.

Do you know what Albright found when he started to search for such a flag? Not a ton of obvious options.

“I had to dig around to find a ‘Made in America’ flag,” says Albright, vice president of Caldwell Stone Co. in Danville, Kentucky. “[Imagine] an American flag made in China over your plant: Some people don’t pay attention.”

Still, so many goods emerge from China nowadays. Let’s go through the exercise of examining a few random things in my office to illustrate the point:

Three Rawlings baseballs sit in one corner of my desk. Baseball has always been built up as America’s national pastime, so there’s no way these scuffed-up balls can be from China, right? Wrong on all three accounts.

How about the MacBook Pro that I’m typing this blog on? A quick study of the underside reveals that it’s designed by Apple in California, yet assembled in China.

A look under my Starbucks mug reveals that it, too, is made in China. The same goes for my Avaya office phone and a Signature stapler.

What about this Scotch tape dispenser? Could that be made in America?

Woo-hoo! We’ve finally got a winner! Well, I think so, but wait: This C-38 Desk Dispenser model has “St. Paul, MN” stamped underneath it. Does that mean it was made in St. Paul? Assembled in St. Paul? Is there an office in St. Paul that takes ownership of this thing? Honestly, it’s not completely clear.

What ‘Made in America’ means

So I made my point: Seemingly everything has a connection to China in one form or another. And most people – myself included – have become somewhat numb to it.

In Pit & Quarry’s summer “Made in the USA” survey, 29 percent of P&Q readers told us they “rarely” or “never” buy Chinese-made products in their personal life. But based on the everyday items I just reeled off – computers, coffee mugs, tape dispensers – this simply can’t be the case. China has a touchpoint in almost everything around us, whether it provided the raw material in your desk widget, or it built that widget from start to finish.

When it comes to utilizing equipment in our industry, aggregate producers unquestionably take a lot of pride in supporting those who invest in America. As you’ll read in our October cover story, the meaning of “made in America” probably isn’t what it was 10, 15 or 20 years ago – and that’s OK depending on who you ask.

Yes, “Made in America” means different things to different people, but U.S. producers clearly expect to be supported regardless of where their vendors reside.

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About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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