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Photo: Capel Rugs

Contrary to popular belief, there’s still plenty of manufacturing going on here in North Carolina. And while US-based manufacturers do have to compete with lower wages and other overheads abroad, they also have a distinct advantage over their competitors.


Not only does US-based manufacturing enjoy lower transportation costs for reaching the American consumer, it is also perfectly positioned to take advantage of the fact that retailers and distributors are increasingly keeping less product in stock. This fact was highlighted in a recent article in Furniture Today, which featured the work of Capel Rugs based out of the small town of Troy, NC.

In the article, VP of Sales Allen Robertson shares the story of a last minute order which demonstrates the nimbleness that US-based firms can leverage:

A few years back, Robertson received a call on a Wednesday from a customer in Hilton Head, S.C., who forgot to order a braided rug as part of a $100,000 installation project he was working on. The customer asked Robertson if it would be possible to have a rug sent by that Friday.

“It was about 2:00 in the afternoon so I ran to the plant and asked if we could make an 8 by 11 rug and still get it to UPS today,” Robertson recalled. “We shipped it and it went to Hilton Head. The guy called me at 2:00 the next afternoon and said, ‘Cancel the order, apparently we had ordered it.’ He didn’t realize we did it and shipped it. We do have some service advantages.”

Given rising labor costs in many emerging markets and the volatility of transportation costs, there’s much to be said for agile manufacturing which remains close to its markets. As technologies improve in various industries, from print-on-demand to 3D printing, we may well see a revival of smaller-scale distributed manufacturing across the world. Those NC manufacturing businesses which were able to weather the storm of recent globalization are well placed to take advantage of this emerging paradigm.

The Made In America branding advantages, not to mention a story of heritage and continuity, may just be icing on the cake.

Read the full story in Furniture Today.