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On August 14th, Walmart executives joined with state officials to help connect U.S. manufacturers and suppliers with buyers and government resources. This summit is just one facet of Walmart’s strategic plan to increase U.S. made products in their stores by $250 billion dollars over the next ten years. The Boston Consulting Group estimates this commitment will create 1 million jobs.
In July, Walmart invited more than 500 manufacturers and entrepreneurs to their headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas for an “Open Call” event. Visiting businesses had the opportunity to meet with Walmart buyers and pitch their products. Several participants walked away with a sale to Walmart stores.
During the August U.S. Manufacturing Summit, President and CEO of K'NEX Brands and The Rodon Group, Michael Araten, was joined by fellow manufacturing President and CEO of Weber Grills, Jim Stephens for a conversation on what it takes to manufacturer in America and do business with Walmart. Michael Araten describes our company’s commitment to making K’NEX construction toys in the U.S. as “Patriotic Capitalism.” “It started in the depths of the great depression. We wanted to keep jobs here. The only way to save our people was to re-shore manufacturing” stated Araten. “We hoped and believed people would care where products are made. There is no bigger, no better brand than Made in America.”
Several years ago, we began a search for a local resource to help us with some project work and we found ourselves visiting the Indian Creek Foundation/ICF Solutions located in nearby Souderton, Pennsylvania. ICF Solutions, a division of Indian Creek Foundation offers a facility-based work program for residents throughout Montgomery County. Since 1975, the Foundation’s mission is to “provide opportunities for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities; to live in and enrich the community throughout their lives.” The foundation also provides supervised housing, life support services as well as behavioral health programs.
Since 1956, The Rodon Group has made billions of American made products in our 125,000 square foot facility, including over 32 billion parts for the K'NEX construction toy system.
K'NEX is the only construction toy company committed to manufacturing in the United States. K'NEX bricks,rods and connectors are manufactured in Pennsylvania right here at our eco-friendly facility. K'NEX and Rodon are proud to be family owned and operated. While most toys are made overseas, we are committed to manufacturing in the United States
"Community is one of our core values, so as a company, we are proud to invest in American workers who demonstrate unparalleled commitment to innovation and some of the greatest working spirit in the industrial world," said Michael Araten, President and CEO of K'NEX and The Rodon Group.
On June 17th, the White House hosted a summer forum titled “Reinvesting in America, Creating Jobs at Home.” This program is part of a larger initiative called SelectUSA, which focuses on the many advantages the U.S. has to offer businesses both foreign and domestic. The White House along with business leaders and economists gathered to discuss the importance of innovations and entrepreneurship in growing our economy. The agenda featured speakers from government and industry including our own President and CEO, Michael Araten.
Tom Wolf, the democratic Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate recently visited The Rodon Group factory as part of his “Fresh Start” campaign tour. One of the cornerstones of Wolf’s campaign is a focus on creating manufacturing jobs in Pennsylvania. As a business owner, who sourced American made goods for his distribution company, Wolf knows firsthand, the importance of manufacturing on our economy. During his speech to The Rodon Group employees, Wolf said he had an “aha” moment when he asked for manufacturing bids from companies across the globe. Turns out, the lowest bids came from American manufacturers. “Conventional wisdom says you need to go to low cost countries.” Wolf stated. “Manufacturing is not something that is alien to the U.S. We offer better products, better service and lead time.”
Not so long ago, this phrase became synonymous with our young people. “The Village” is everyone who can and should impact the lives of children by developing and nurturing them for a path to success. We should be keenly aware of this fact in all facets of our business and personal lives. Whether or not you are a parent, we must support our future generations.
You may think that, as a manufacturing company, we don’t have many opportunities to impact the direction of the lives of young people in our community. It's actually just the opposite. We are always looking for ways to support technical education and STEM programs. The Rodon Group often hosts school tours and engages with administrators. Our sister company, K’NEX has developed an entire product line devoted to teaching science, engineering and math skills.
There has been a great deal of attention paid to the skills gap facing American manufacturers. We all know that many young people shy away from STEM education and they have a distorted, grimy, perception of manufacturing employment and careers.
Our friends at the Manufacturing Extension Partnership introduced a new infographic that underscores the importance of manufacturing in our economy. This interactive visual highlights some fascinating facts about the impact of manufacturing. In addition, you can follow links to manufacturers throughout the country who participated in Manufacturing Day in October 2013.