By Hardy Green Oct 26, 2012
Coal miners lining up behind the Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney; auto workers praising President Barack Obama for saving the U.S. car industry. You don’t have to look far to see signs of Americans’ deep anxiety over deindustrialization, and of a profound nostalgia for a more toilsome past.
Yet a closer look at bygone days shows that the decline of U.S. industry isn’t only the result of unfair Chinese trade practices or the low wages of Asian workers.
Consider the case of a classic U.S. manufacturer, the washing-machine maker Maytag Co., and the current condition of its former company town: Newton, Iowa.
Mostly a memory today, Maytag evolved from small-town origins to become a major international corporation. Frederick L. Maytag, a farm boy born near Elgin, Illinois, moved with his parents in the late 1800s to Newton, a village of 2,500 people, 35 miles east of Des Moines. In 1892, Frederick joined with the inventor and entrepreneur George Parsons to market a “band cutter and self-feeder,” a threshing-machine accessory. This proved only a modest success, and by 1907, the duo turned to another field: the manufacture of washing machines. To Read More…..
My Take - Although I consider this an oversimplification to a much larger problem, I would like to point out recent events that do play into this. The Ford Ranger was built for Okrin Pest Control, and most pest control companies started using the Ford Ranger to the point that it almost became the de facto service vehicle for the pest control industry nationwide. Ford stopped making the Ranger. My understanding is that Orkin is going to buy Toyotas. I told this story to one of my customers who hates anyone who buys a foreign vehicle. I asked him what Orkin was supposed to do....or for that matter.... all the other pest control companies too. No American auto maker makes a Ranger or a Chevy S-10 type truck any longer as far as I can tell.
I understand that GM is making a Colorado with a full sized bed, but no extended cab. Why did Ford stop making the greatest small truck in the world? They claim that small truck sales declined due to the recession, and the price of the F-150 isn’t that much higher, the mileage isn’t that much worse and it has a whole lot more in power and space. That all sounds great….but for an exterminator they are hard to work out of. I can stand beside my Ranger and open a side window on the cap and easily get what I want out of the truck. I can’t do that with an F-150. That means I would have to open the back and crawl into my truck to get what I need. That doesn’t cut it for a 66 year old man with bad knees. I have no idea why they would be so foolish as to let a temporary situation impact their decision making, but the customers still want a Ranger style truck and if Ford won't make one.....they will go to whoever will.