Made in America week highlights two Ohio Valley companies

Bully Tools of Steubenville, Ohio, representatives Dave Carroll and Mark Gracy, are just one of the 50 state products on display during the Made in America Product Showcase, Monday, July 17, 2017, in the East Room at the White House in Washington, D.C. The event is part of the Made in America Week at the White House, providing an opportunity to highlight the Administration’s commitment to products that are made in America. (Official White House Photo by Claire Barnett)

It's Made in America week at the White House, a promotion by the Trump administration highlighting goods made and sold in the United States. Two companies were picked from the Ohio Valley region for the honor.

When you pick up a product that says “made in America” it's likely to be more expensive than its competitors made overseas. Manufacturers and retailers like to tout that cost as added value. So, as the White House digs into Made in America week we're asking the question: what's it cost to be made in America?

"Our commercial accounts they call in, they want a bulk item of a shovel or a rake that will last a long time,” says Annie Campbell, co-owner of M&M True Value Hardware, “and Bully Tools are the ones that we carry that will do that for them."

The hardware store leans on its own line of branded products, sometimes $10-$20 cheaper, but push the products out the door with only a 30-day warranty. For Bully Tools, the company invited this week to the White House, the warranty is part of the price.

"They do replace their items if they are not up to par or they break or along those lines. They are a good brand to carry," says Campbell, "that's probably why the commercial accounts do prefer those rather than the cheaper ones for the jobs they have to do."

A long-standing producer of china in Newell, West Virginia was also invited to D.C. The CEO of Homer Laughlin China Company has an idea why they were picked.

"We have an iconic brand, and that's Fiesta. There a lot of people who collect that and love all the colors of Fiesta," says Liz McIlvaine, CEO of Homer Laughlin China Company.

Fiestaware, the signature sets stylized after the colors of the American southwest, adorn dinner tables in dorms and dance halls alike.

"It's a product their grandmothers had and people relate to it,” says McIlvain, “and they have vivid and wonderful memories about the brand."

Critics have pushed back against this theme week promotion. None of Ivanka Trump's products are produced in America, and almost all of the president's own campaign and Trump-branded materials are made overseas. For McIlvaine, who employs more than 600 people at her plant, overseas competition eats into her other enterprising brands.

"We're still manufacturing the way we did 50 years ago," says McIlvaine.

McIlvaine says she'd like to invest in modern production methods but can't afford it. Tax breaks or incentives would be welcome.

"The Newell, Chester, East Liverpool area is very dependent on Homer Laughlin as a company and a provider of income for the area," says McIlvaine, “any help we could get from the government would be wonderful."

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