The death of manufacturing towns has become an unavoidable narrative in American popular culture. Stories of companies shipping jobs overseas permeate all channels of media and our policy leaders struggle to stop the hemorrhaging of good paying American jobs. The phenomenon signifies not just a loss of economic stability, but a loss of independence for our communities. The outlook however is not all bad and there exists companies whose mission it is to change this narrative. We would like to tell you about one such company. It’s a tale about a storied brand brought back to life in a town known for its manufacturing prowess. They have partnered with local family owned businesses who dedicate their lives and their children’s lives to the crafts they have perfected. The company is Shinola and we are incredibly proud to play a role in their mission.
Contacted by an Icon
In early 2011, our VP of operations, Bill Upton was contacted by the Michigan Economic Development Council (MEDC) about a company out of Texas looking to meet with local manufacturers. That company’s main interest was creating a line of products made by Americans. “We were interested because we share the vision of using our ingenuity to manufacture quality products cost effectively”, says Bill. The company was starting up operations right in the heart of Detroit, Michigan; a town known for its rich manufacturing heritage. They’ve set up shop in the old General Motors Argonaut building; a place that has its own amazing history of innovation. Among other products from other suppliers, the new business will sell leather bound journals made by Edwards Brothers Malloy.
We wanted to get involved with Shinola because we share many of the same values like pride of craftsmanship and helping our communities succeed through work. Bill Upton talks about collaborating with Shinola and how they firmly believed that “if you come up with the idea for a product, even if it isn’t new; and work with an American supplier, the expert craftsman can come up with a way to develop it economically and of high quality”. For almost two years we have been working with Shinola to develop a prototype of journals that are now available on their website.
The Quintessential American Company
In many ways, the story Shinola is telling mirrors the history of our own company. The 120 million dollar organization that Edwards Brothers Malloy has become today was founded over a century ago in 1893 by 3 brothers who wanted to make things. They didn’t have all the right ideas or a ground breaking product but they built a company through ingenuity, perseverance, hard work and sacrifice. Their actions, and the actions of others who share similar stories, have made American manufacturing; and indeed the very country, what it is today. We make books. That is what we do and we make some of the highest quality, longest lasting books in the world; right here in America. Countless families and individuals over the past century have helped contribute to this organization. They are our neighbors, our friends, our family members and our fellow citizens. Collectively they help produce the stories we read to our children every night, the texts that help graduate our students and the fairy tales that let us all escape to new worlds.
Slogans and mantras, mission statements and blog posts are all really great for promoting a company but it’s far more powerful to see the everyday people who have a passion for what they do. Shinola has done this through video with many of their suppliers and the products they produce. They have done the same for us. The relationship we have with Shinola began back in 2011 with then Malloy Incorporated. This was before the merger between Edwards Brothers and Malloy so all the shots you will see in the video were taken at the Jackson Road facility.
We think that Shinola is on to something and that American consumers are longing for a change in the products they buy. They are looking for items that will have meaning in their lives. They are also looking for products that are made in America by Americans. We are both proud and thrilled to be a part of this movement and we look forward to a long relationship with the company that is bringing “made in America” back to the mainstream.
How do you feel about companies that make things in America? Do you try and buy from businesses that manufacture things in the States or that have strong ties to a community?