Our manufacturing facility is located in a small town in central Iowa. If you look at where traditional manufacturing facilities are located, it seems like we missed the newsletter. After briefly looking at history, I assert that we’re just fine where we are.
Manufacturing before the industrial revolution
Since the beginning of mankind people built locally using the resources at hand. If you lived in a forest, you cut trees and used vines to build shelter and make hunting implements. If you lived in areas with clay, you formed bricks to construct things with. If the ground was fertile, you planted or harvested crops. If there was wildlife you hunted meat.
Once trade became popular, it was possible to acquire implements from other regions. However, those implements were built near where the resources were. Blacksmiths set up close to mineral deposits. Farmers settled in fertile areas. Fishermen lived near water. Preserving food became a necessity because the time and distance involved in transportation was so great, if the food wasn’t preserved, it couldn’t be sold when it arrived at the marketplace.
The second industrial revolution
Where things really turned around was in the late 1800’s with the invention of the Bessemer converter. This brilliant piece of technology allowed mills to produce pure, hard, durable steel. With the mass production of steel came the vast expansion of railways. With railways came fast and reliable transportation of goods between places where resources were vast to places with fewer resources. The growth of manufacturing increased at an incredible rate. Products that were made in one place could be more easily sold and transported around the country, and society benefited from the advances in manufacturing technologies, wherever they took place.
In today’s modern world, the barriers are low to nonexistent. Our machines use bearings made in Ohio, encoders made in Germany and assembled in Illinois, and steel from any number of places, foreign or domestic. We assemble these components from all over the world, and build machines which are then shipped or delivered to places as close as central Iowa, and as far away as China and Russia. Our location in the midst of corn fields has little to no effect on our ability to source the materials we need and offer our products to customers the world over.
The saying goes, “There are three important things in real estate. Location, location, location.” I think if you’re smart about things, location doesn’t matter and success rides on innovation, imagination, and implementation.