He is the founder of The Reshoring Initiative after being president of GF Machining Solutions for 22 years. Awards include Industry Week's Manufacturing Hall of Fame, he's participated actively in President Obama's January 11, 2012, Insourcing Forum, member of the Department of Commerce Investment Advisory Council. He's frequently been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, New Yorker, and USA Today and seen on Fox Business Market Watch and other programs. Harry has a BS and MS in Engineering from MIT and an MBA from the University of Chicago. Harry, welcome to the show.
Can you share a little bit about what the mission of The Reshoring Initiative is?
So we're a nonprofit and our mission is to bring 5 million manufacturing jobs to the US from offshore by a combination of reshoring by US companies, and FDI, foreign direct investment by foreign companies. We picked 5 million because that's the amount it would take to balance the trade deficit, the goods trade deficit so that then our imports and exports would be about equal so to our mission is to increase our manufacturing by about 40%. So to recover what we've lost from the increasing trade deficit over the last 40 years.
Has the current state with the pandemic been a positive or negative impact on your mission?
For our work, our revenue has quadrupled, because companies now realize that it's too dangerous, too risky to be so dependent on offshore, especially China. What we do is show them that they can make products here in many cases and be at least equally profitable. So so we overcome that. "Well, I'd love to make it here, but I can't afford to", we overcome that issue.
So I want to talk a little bit about this trade deficit. Why does the US have a trade deficit problem?
Your trade balance is the difference between your exports and your imports. So we import $800 billion a year more than we export and that's because our costs, our prices are too high here. We have a method to compare pricing in the US and other countries and our price leaving the factory is about 20% higher than Europe, and about 40% higher than China, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and consumer wants to buy something inexpensively, the company goes work and get at least expensively and as a result, we have a trade deficit. In classical economics, that should go away quickly because the currency should adjust. If you have a big trade deficit, your currency should go down in value versus other currencies and that would make you more competitive or competitive once again, and the trade deficit would go away. But the US is the reserve currency, and having the banks and institutions where foreigners want to store their money for safety, all those trillions of dollars flowing in forces the dollar up instead of having the goods trade deficit adjust. So one of the things we recommend is to have the US Government Act reduce the value of the dollar by 20, or 30% so that our companies would once again be competitive.
How can our listeners help you achieve these goals here?
If they work for a manufacturing company of any kind, or distributor of goods, or retailer, they could suggest to the company producing or sourcing more in the country. Our tools are helpful, for that we have the TCL estimator that helps the company do the math correctly on the costs associated with importing or exporting, and therefore that would be helpful for their companies also useful for selling. So for the small company to convince this customer to buy from them instead of importing, for example. But also, as consumers, when they're out looking to buy something, they should at least look a little bit, spend a little time looking for the Made in USA product. One of the things I wrote recently is, a lot of people are out buying things just because it's fun to buy things. If you're buying something, not because you need it, but just for the pleasure of buying it, then wait until you can find something made in the USA that you could buy that you don't need instead of something made in China that you don't need.
Can you share with our listeners your most successful or favorite networking experience that you've had?
I've got a couple. First I was at a Hawaii located annual convention of the National Tooling and Machining Association and I'm standing there at the reception one night, I'm talking to bill and Dwayne comes over and Dwayne says, "Bill, don't let Harry take you to dinner," and Bill said, "Why not? He's a nice enough guy," and then Dwayne say, "Well, about four years ago, Harry took Shirly and me to dinner and since then, we've bought $4 million worth of his machines." In the last case, I was at a wedding. Like a nice, fancy Country Club, very nice. I went over to her mother and said, "Anybody here in manufacturing? "I'm tired of talking to lawyers and doctors." Someone named John said they were in manufacturing. I talked to john learned about his company and they were planning to get an EDM machine, that's like, $150,000. I said, "Okay, we'll be in touch," and so in our newsletter that month, I talked about the wedding lead, and then about two months later, I talked about the wedding order that we had got because of the lead I got at the wedding. I said, "For all the salesmen out there, I'm selling at the wedding, make sure you're at least selling 40 hours a week out in your job."
Let's talk about nurturing your network. Regardless of the size, small or large, it's extremely important to stay in front of that community that you've created. How do you do that?
Traditionally, I did it in person, because when I was president of the company, I spent a third of my time visiting customers and prospective customers, going to trade shows, etc. so I met 1000s and 1000s of people. Since then, still a lot of conferences until COVID. Last year, I did 60 podcasts and webinars and this year, I've already got 23 signed up for 2021. So getting in front of them that way and then I get interviewed maybe once a week by the media, we put out an article of some kind every week that gets published. Then everything that we put out, and everything that gets written about us when we get interviewed we post on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, what have you. Sometimes we'll post an article and get 3000 views, something like that.
What advice would you offer to business professionals looking to grow their network?
Once we get back to in person, you know, the physical being with them with each other, work for the crowd, what I call continuously but gently. So when I'm at a conference and there's a reception, people will come over to me and say, "Harry, you're the best networker we've ever seen." So I have a methodology of coming up to people saying, hello, introducing myself, and then I focus first on them. I get them to tell me what they do, all that kind of stuff. It doesn't take long takes it two minutes, three minutes to learn enough. So then I can offer them some advice, offer them a lead, offer them an introduction, offer them something of value. Then when I get around to telling them what I do, I've earned their trust and their interest. Therefore, we've established a relationship. Seek to give before you receive maybe would be sort of a biblical way of looking at it.
If you could go back to your 20-year-old self what would you tell yourself to do more or less of or differently with regards to your professional career?
I got the engineering degrees at MIT. In some ways, I'd have been better off if I like done an apprenticeship first because I'm not very hands-on. People say you're an MIT engineer, fix my bicycle and I don't know. So if I'd had two years or four years of hands-on making things I think I'd have been a better engineer because of that. On the other hand, it would have been quite a detour in my career and I probably wouldn't have achieved everything I've achieved. So it would have been different, but that's one of the things I have thought about.
Let's talk about the six degrees of separation. If there's any person that specifically that you'd love to connect with, and how do you think you'd go about doing that?
At the moment, President Biden. So anybody out there that knows him, I'd appreciate the introduction or someone who knows someone who's on his staff. I did an article for Industry Week recently critiquing Trump's results and Biden's proposals from the viewpoint of reshoring, what will bring the manufacturing jobs back best to the country. I agreed with some of Biden's plans and disagreed with others and I'm convinced that his team does not fully understand the underlying root cause problems and we'd love to help them with that. I did meet with Obama, in a meeting at the White House. I tried to get to Trump but I never succeeded, even though he said he wanted the things that we want, but it never happened. So I'm reaching out to Biden through sort of peripheral contacts that have sought our advice for the campaign and say, "Okay, I gave you the advice now, this time to give us some access." We'll see what happens.
Do you have any final word or advice to offer our listeners with regards to growing and supporting your network?
My advice would be to read the book I’m currently reading. It's called The Foundation Series by Isaac Asimov and it's based 1000s of years into the future, and there's the human humanity has spread out over the galaxy. There's one world that's the world where the Emperor lives and the whole world covered with steel and 100 billion people live there, but the infrastructure and the organization is starting to decline and they're worried about eventually the whole thing coming apart and riots and rebellion and looting and everything else. But the main character, Harry Selden, has developed psychohistory in which he forecasts what will happen in the future of mankind, and how to adjust that so that it comes out more favorably. So it's a great mind-expanding series for anybody that that would find science fiction to be worth reading.
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