Recently I received an email from our customer, Danny L, complaining about some items he found in our catalog. His problem was that despite being acceptable quality, they were made in China.
He said, “I am a retired small business man and just thought you should know how I feel about it. This is a turning point for my family, from here on it is made in USA/CANADA/ maybe even Europe, but no more China. The too big to fail companies here have to under stand we will no longer support them off-shoring all the American jobs.”
Because this issue is close to our hearts here at Lehman’s, I wanted to share my response to him with all of our customers. Here is the email I sent him:
Thanks for your email and for your business. I understand your frustration, and that is why I wanted to respond personally and speak from my heart as an owner and as the president of Lehman’s.
Our goal is to carry USA or Amish-made whenever possible. But, it is becoming increasingly difficult.
For one thing, of course, the Amish are limited by the their beliefs about the use of technology as to what they can produce. In the last few years, they have loosened their rules enough that machine shops and simple manufacturing (beyond woodworking and furniture building) are becoming more common. But, an item with as many moving parts as the can opener is still beyond their means to produce.
Meanwhile, something sad and terrible is happening to American manufacturing. As China (and other “Asian rim” countries like India and Vietnam) become more powerful and more efficient, entire industries are being decimated. [Click this link for my January, 2010, blog post about “Chindia”.]
This sad fact is true: I don’t know of any USA made can openers. The Swing Away can opener you asked about was USA made until recently. However, the company in St Louis moved the manufacture to China.
The French Bread pans you asked about are also imported. We just discovered a source of USA made pans and we are testing them in our Kidron store. If they work out well, we hope to add them to our catalog. I have found some sources for French made pans, but they are far too expensive…on the order of 3x more than the ones we currently offer.
The Vermont Comfortmeter does indeed have a German movement. I’ve seen this on a number of complex products. The Chinese haven’t yet advanced to the place where they can make the complicated, technical parts of a product. So, they take a high quality, German, Swiss or USA made “heart” and transplant it into a Chinese made “body.” This is what happened on the Comfortmeter.
I also want to point out: We are committed to honesty in our catalog and on our website. Whenever we offer an item that is not USA made, it will always say “Imported” or “Made in China” or have a similar explanation in the description IF we know about it. (In some cases, the supplier has changed from USA to imported in mid-stream without telling us. In one case, we even caught a vendor who was putting Chinese product inside boxes that said made in USA! All of the items you asked about say they are made overseas in their description now.)
So, I just wanted to say this: 1) We are committed to honest descriptions. We will never knowingly mislead any customer. 2) We are doing everything we can to carry USA made (and in many cases, Amish-made) product. We will never displace a USA manufacturer by copying their product with an imported item. If we know of a USA source for any item we carry, we will offer it to our customers.
Thanks so much for your email and for the opportunity to explain what is happening.
PS – I think you are doing the right thing by saying that you will stick with American made. I honor you and your family!
Note: If you know of places where we have failed to measure up to this standard, please let us know and we will correct the situation. We’re not perfect, but we are trying our best! And, if you know of USA made products we should carry, please tell us about it.