First-time readers, this blog is set in the future (sometime after the year 2020).  Each entry assumes there has been a 5th revolution in the US — the Revenge Revolution.  More about Revenge Revolution and author, Entry #1.  List and general description of entries to date.  Annual assessment whether Revolution plausible.

Note: most characters appear in a number of entries, with many entries building on previous conversations.  Profile of characters.  You’ll catch on quickly.  Thanks for your time and interest…and comments. 

Scene: Pilot Truck Stop, Central Illinois. Jordan having breakfast, sitting at the counter.  (Conversation started Entry #177.)

PilotLogoJordan: “The coffee is good. What an improvement from the old days at truck stops. Coffee was like used motor oil.”

Patron: “Some of us think the truck stops have wimped out. Too much like Starbucks fufu-coffee and not enough real-man coffee.”

Jordan: “OK, let’s get back to the topic at hand. Bringing manufacturing jobs back to America and especially mid-size and smaller communities. First question is ‘Are the workers trained for the higher-tech jobs?'”

middle_aged_man_by_asimplesongPatron: “Are the workers trained in Mexico or China? Not at first so somebody had to train them.”

Jordan: “What about the unions?”

Patron: “What about them?”

Jordan: “A lot of business people, mostly Republicans probably, claim that the unions killed manufacturing in America.”

Patron: “Another excuse by CEO’s and politicians. Most of those guys don’t know dog poop from apple butter about what goes on in manufacturing. Did these guys ever look at Germany? Lots of manufacturing, lots of exports…and very strong unions. What’s Turtleneckwrong with that model?”

Jordan: “Nothing, I guess. The education system in Germany has more emphasis on learning skilled trades.”

Patron: “Well, so did we…at least when I was growing up. In our high school we had an opportunity to take classes to become an apprentice plumber, electrician, metal worker, auto mechanic, etc. ”

Jordan: “Those courses are not available now?”

manufacturing-production-operations-jobsPatron: “Apparently someone or some bodies decided that having everyone get ready for college was more important than learning a skilled trade. So now there are no more of what we used to call ‘shop classes.’ And guess what? We’ve got a shortage of skilled trades and college grads driving cabs.”

Jordan: “Wonder if those same people ever correlated eliminating shop classes, as you called them, and the loss of manufacturing jobs?”

FartPatron: “Why would they? Those folks probably never cut anything in their life…except maybe a fart.”

Jordan: “That’s funny. Sad and true but funny.”

Patron: “You’re asking me all these questions. Whadda you think?”

Jordan: “I think you’re right…and let me tell you a story why I think you’re right.”

Patron: “Shoot.”

Jordan: “A few years ago I ran small manufacturing company in northern California – Sonoma County.”

122913_1337_14BringingU2.pngPatron: “I thought they only grew grapes and made wine there.”

Jordan: “Lots of agriculture. But this company manufactured…really assembled…electric bikes, electric scooters and some other stuff.”

Patron: “Sounds like a fun place. Why’d they want you? Just kidding.”

Jordan: “When I arrived, the company assembled an average of 37 scooters a day. The problem was some days it was 75 and some days is was zero.”

Assembly Line 2Patron: “So they hire you to fix the assembly line.”

Jordan: “The Board of Directors wanted me to move all the production to China right away.”

Patron: “Same old BS. Move to China because labor was cheaper, right?”

Jordan: “I told them to give me until the end of the year…about 7 months…to fix the problem. Then we could revisit whether to assemble in China.”

Patron: “What happened?”

Line chartJordan: “In the 7 months we increased production from 37 per day to 250 per day.”

Patron: “What’s that about 5 times…no 6 times more production each day.”

Jordan: “Yep.”

Patron: “What’d you do…buy a bunch of equipment?”

Jordan: “We bought virtually no equipment, other than some carts to move parts between stations.”

Patron: “Add a bunch of people?”

Jordan: “No the only people we added were in the shipping department.”

Patron: “What did you do?”

Listening.EarJordan: “Listened to the workers. We asked for ideas on what changes would make their jobs easier and improve product quality.”

Patron: “So you listen, make some changes to the product and the assembly line but keep the same number of people, the same equipment and production increases from 37 to 250 per day. That’s impressive.”

Jordan: “Here’s the kicker. Labor cost per unit dropped so much that we could have doubled the pay of workers in California…and paid workers in China nothing and…”

Patron: “…it would have been cheaper to build in California. Right?”

Jordan: “You got it right. Amazing, huh?”

People OrdinaryPatron: “One more question. What about the workforce? They must have been highly skilled.”

Jordan: “The workforce was a bunch of ordinary folks who lived in the area. For some English was a second language…a distant second language. We even had a couple of guys on parole from prison.”

Patron: “And you still made it all work? You’re a genius.”

Jordan: “Thanks for the compliment but all I did was listen to the people involved and then get resources to help them do their jobs better.”

Patron: “What happened to the company? Must have become very successful.”

Jordan: “Unfortunately some investors got greedy and…”

Patron: “…then moved production to China. And then the company filed for bankruptcy.”

Jordan: “You’re the genius.”

Patron: “No doubt some of the investors got their money out and left the regular investors and employees holding the bag. Makes me sick.”

Jordan: “Me, too. While it’s a sad ending, the good part of the story is there is hope for manufacturing in the US…and small town America.”

fife-drum%201Patron: “Maybe the Revenge Revolution will begin to change attitudes about the importance of manufacturing. And you need to tell your story.”

Jordan: “Thanks for the encouragement.”

Patron: “Listen, I need to run. By the way, I never did introduce myself. I’m Rich Johnson…but everyone call me Doughman. Cause I look like…”

Pillsbury-DoughboyJordan: “…the Pillsbury Doughboy?”

Patron: “Looked this way since grammar school.”

Jordan: “Doughman, I’m Jordan Abel.”

Patron: “Well, Mr. Abel, nice chatting with you. Good luck on helping bring manufacturing jobs back to the US.”