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Made in the U.S.A.

February 20, 2006
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If you've ever been to the Lone Star State you know that Texans take a considerable amount of pride in that patch of ground. They may occasionally be overheard spouting off aphorisms to foreigners (anyone north of the Red River) such as, "Life is too short to live any place but Texas" or "You may all go to hell, but I'll go to Texas."

While flying out of the Austin International Airport, I shopped for some trinkets and trash for the kids. Both daughters were born in Dallas, so they have a fond place in their hearts for all things Lone Star.

The first picture frame I picked up looked to be made of Texas driftwood with the obligatory red, white, and blue panels and the single white star. Upon further examination, I found a Made in China label glued on the back. I'm as global as the next guy, but c'mon - I never expected Texas to sell out.

Call me an isolationist if you will, but some things are just better when Made in the U.S.A., right?

Let's take automobiles for an example - well, never mind.

AHR EXPO OPENS EYES

It is no secret that a large number of HVACR manufacturers are assembling units in the United States with parts that originate from the four corners of the globe. The world we live in seems to shrink more each year, and our worldly business economy is becoming ever-more intertwined.

Though the Air-Conditioning, Heating, Refrigerating Exposition (AHR Expo), recently held in Chicago, did set record numbers for not only attendance but also for exhibitors, the absence of some well-known U.S. manufacturers was obvious.

But that's okay; there wasn't a dearth of products. In fact, there were plenty of Made in Somewhere Else products for people to look at as they browsed the show floor.

The only obstacle appeared to be that too many of the exhibitors from across the seas opted not to focus on English as a second language in graduate school. There I go again, sounding like an arrogant imperialist. But, really, what's worse? Talking to a booth babe (spokes-model) who knows nothing about the company, or the owner of a company who knows everything but can't talk to you about anything?

Or, was that simply a clever ruse to send a stupid American with a press badge packing? One of my esteemed colleagues made note that many of the Asian companies present at the AHR Expo weren't so much interested in selling their products as they were in looking for acquisition opportunities. If true, then Made in the U.S.A. won't be the only obsession we isolationists will be fretting over; now we can worry about from where our paychecks are really coming.

However, in our ever-shrinking world does it really matter where our industry's products are made? A few years ago, foreign competition was cited as one of the top four concerns among contractors and distributors. Today, according to many people in the HVAC, that concern has given way to rising health care costs and insurance, and price-cutting fears.

What is your biggest concern in 2006? I'd like to know.

Mike Murphy, Editor-In-Chief, 248-244-6446, 248-244-2905 (fax), mikemurphy@achrnews.com

Publication date: 02/20/2006

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