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Walmart 2015

Last week we participated in the Walmart US Manufacturing Summit in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart has taken the lead and has ignited the Reshoring movement in America by committing to spend $250 Billion for products Made in the USA over the next few years. The annual Summit was an amazing event again this year, with an important “Open Call” day for suppliers pitching their American-made products to Walmart buyers.
Walmart estimates that 1 million new US jobs will be created through this initiative, including direct manufacturing job growth of approximately 250,000 jobs and indirect job growth of 750,000 in the support and service sectors. This alone is important for rebuilding the US economy, but because of Walmart’s size and influence, other retailers are likely to follow Walmart’s lead and establish initiatives of their own that will also result in more job creation in the US. And as we know, Retailers are the “Mothers of all Supply Chains.” These initiatives will affect manufacturers and their global supply chains.
Walmart is quickly becoming a catalyst for the Reshoring movement for another important reason. By igniting the US manufacturing movement, suppliers and their supply chains will cause the reshoring and redevelopment of key industries needed to support manufacturing in general. Take small motor manufacturers, for example. These small motors are in many consumer products such as lawn mowers, vacuums, hair dryers, and small appliances. Yet most of the small motor production was offshored to China in the early 2000s. Bringing back the production of these motors will help boost US content for many US manufactured industrial products.
Plastic injection molding, cut-and-sew equipment and other component parts will be reshored as a result of this movement. The skills to support all kinds of manufacturing were offshored too, and now skilled labor is in very high demand in America. So the Reshoring movement will drive the redevelopment of these industries and skills in America.
The federal government is supporting innovation through the bi-partisan Revitalize American Manufacturing Act of 2014 and the establishment of 45 Innovation Institutes, bringing together companies and universities to co-invest in advanced manufacturing technologies.
Walmart is the company that will make the difference because it is basing the need for innovation on the demand of its customers, and that is powerful.

numbers2I have been thinking about statistics…the mind works in funny ways. 

I went from noticing it was March 14, which led me to 3.14159 (and a Happy Pi Day to Everyone on Facebook)…to remembering graduate school, where I was one of the few who really enjoyed statistics class…to Malcolm Gladwell’s new book, Outliers, (http://www.gladwell.com/outliers/outliers_excerpt3.html)  that addresses the use of language in numbers and why non-English speaking children find it easier to count (in Chinese,  22 is  “two-tens-two” instead of the English  “twenty-two” which must be converted to number symbols before it can be added)…to statistics I have been reading about China…WHEW!

I have always been fascinated by what the numbers really tell us about business. My favorite question to ask when someone refers to a number, is:  “Compared to what??”  I find that people often quote improving numbers, downturns, trends and predictions, etc, but have no idea about the context of these numbers as they relate to other processes, competitors or strategic goals.

I have also been reading a lot about statistics coming from China, published by the Chinese Government and reporters for the world press.  Who do you believe? Are there 1.3 or 1.5 billion people in China? And what does this all mean?  Is this the largest potential consumer market in the world?  Or the biggest labor force? Is the relative prosperity in the cities overshadowed by the extreme rural poverty?  What is the purpose of our questions and what is the context of the answer?

Okay, Okay…time to turn off the brain….