Locksmith Ledger once had a sister publication called Leather & Shoes. The magazine was successful while shoe manufacturing was done in the United States. Most shoes are now made in countries where costs are much lower. As with many items such as electronic products, clothing and shoes, customers willingly take advantage of imported items and pay lower prices in the marketplace while at the same time knowing that each purchase may help to drive more jobs offshore. One small consequence of the outbound movement of jobs to other countries was that fewer people were interested in shoe manufacturing and our Leather & Shoes magazine went out of business.
Every manufacturer has a responsibility to its stockholders and making a profit surely heads the list. Many U.S. companies have looked to places like Japan, Taiwan and China to source either parts or completed hardware items in order to be price competitive and that is understandable.
Our uneven balance of trade between the smaller amount of goods we export and the larger amount of goods we import has a chilling effect. One result was that U.S. steel companies could not compete with foreign prices and just like our shoe magazine, they have gone out of business or at least curtailed production.
Sourcing goods offshore pays off as long as material and labor costs remain stable. What has happened now is that raw material costs, especially steel and brass, have reportedly increased overseas by as much as 50 percent. Some people attribute the cost increase to hoarding abroad. Whatever the cause, we are suddenly subservient to whatever an offshore manufacturer wants to charge. Domestic steel companies are currently not prepared to quickly react.
At the recent Security Hardware Distributors Association (SHDA) meetings, we asked several hardware manufacturers about the metals shortage problem. Companies have reportedly either raised list prices or are at least considering a rise in prices. Some companies reported a recent drop in profit and even possible future slowdowns in production.
As long as we depend on foreign sources for a large part of our goods and products, there will continue to be a possibility of price fluctuations and availability issues.
The best thing a locksmith can do is to stay in close contact with his or her favorite locksmith distributor and be aware of any fluctuations in either price or availability.