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Born in the USA - Made in China

 What?  Get the hell out of here! Why? You’re crazy.

 
Just some of the responses I would have given prior to Memorial Day weekend, 2018 if someone tried to tell me I would be heading to China to meet with manufacturers on a product I was developing.
 
Fast forward to October 2019, not only was I heading to China for 2 1/2 very long days meeting with our agent and prototype manufacturers, but also my travels would range from 20 hours (getting there) and 40 hours (coming home).

All while balancing my life (3 kids and a pregnant wife) and my other professional obligations. Meaning... I do have a day job.

I wanted to share this journey with you because something different occurred to me while in China to meet these individuals who I would never, in a million years, expect to meet.

The people, the country, it is remarkable how similar it is to USA. The country is developed... Hotels. Highways. Buildings. Retail. Restaurants. It was like any other city in America. I tried to explain to people that the worst I saw of China was comparable to or perhaps better than our poorest neighborhoods and cities.

Our team (the agency helping assist in the manufacturing process) is young, energetic, educated, personable. Our manufacturing partner is family-owned with 2 children that love basketball. 

While visiting their facility, located just a couple of hours outside Hong Kong, I jumped in the back of their car and we went to lunch.

...Could have fooled me, it was like any other lunch place in Anytown, USA.  Besides the full chicken (with the head still attached - picture below) that they served.

I mentioned all this because there is a stigma about ‘Made in China.’  People like to ask me, ‘Why can’t you make this in the US?’  The reality is that we, yes - us Americans, - like our products but we also like them inexpensive. Due to the cost of living, currency and industrial development in China over the past 40 years it creates an opportunity for companies like LowTides to bring a product to market at a reasonable price. I have found this not to be possible in the USA, yet.

There are no sweatshops, at least, from what I saw. Everyone works, yes, but they have a social life... Friends. Family. Interests.  They take lunch. They actually take naps during the workday. Yes, naps. From 12:30 to 1:30 every day at their desks. This is after arriving at 10 AM.  They are happy.  They love their country, as we love ours.  If you ask me now, I think the USA has this work thing ALL wrong!

Even though our chairs will be labeled Made in China, remember they were born here in the USA, designed and dreamed up in New Jersey.  The economy in 2019 is now a global one and you, as the consumer, benefit.

I do not know what the future holds for our manufacturing 2 years from now. Maybe I’ll be opening up a shop in NJ, building beach chairs, telling you you’re crazy again... this time for another reason.

For the time being, my trip was a good one. It opened my eyes. No longer is there a stigma attached to ‘Made In China’ for me.  I’m proud to support other businesses, livelihoods, and families in another country. You should be proud too. I can now tell you after my visit that not only are you helping to pull plastic from the environment for reuse, but you’re adding to the complex global economy. Supporting another family halfway across the world that has the same daily life and struggles as you and me.

Thanks for listening.

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