I just bought a mattress that retails for about $2,500. Natural Form had a Father’s Day promotion that cut the cost to a little over $2,000, but still, it seems a bit absurd considering it’s replacing a Serta memory foam mattress that cost about $800 just 8 years ago. So, why did I spend this much, and how on Earth does it relate to computers?
Well, there are two reasons I paid twice my original budget:
1). I have had chronic back pain for over a decade and am a light sleeper so I need something that works, at any price; I’ve slept like a baby every time I’ve had a Garden Sleep Systems bed at a Hilton
2). It’s made in the United States, right here in the USA, not overseas.
On their own, neither would have prompted me to blow my budget, but the combination swayed me. So what does this have to do with computers?
As a computer manufacturer, most of our components are manufactured in Asia and assembled into complete systems by our technicians here in the USA. We don’t have a lot of control or options about the source of these components – if you know of a computer motherboard, hard drive, or other components made in the US, please let me know about it. But, when our customers require a more custom solution in low volumes, we try to work with local companies to ensure faster turnaround time, better quality control, and the ability to drive 45 minutes to work out a problem if one arises.
So, that brings me to our cases. Everything we currently carry is made in Asia, but we are in an interesting position as we prepare to send our fourth in-house designed chassis into production. With labor shortages in Asia raising the cost of production overseas and high unemployment rates here in the US, I started wondering what might be feasible. This is, arguably, the first time in a long time where manufacturing in the US might come close to the cost of overseas manufacturing.
The problem I ran into was that even if the labor costs come close, the raw materials costs are dramatically higher here in the States. Still, would our customers be willing to pay a premium for a case made in the USA, and, if so, how much of a premium? If a $50 case (sans PSU) were to become a $60 case, would that be too much and cause customers to look elsewhere? What about $65 or $70? The problem is, we all want to feel good about helping the home economy, but we’ve become so accustomed to getting more for less that I’m not sure many people are really willing to pony up their own money when it comes right down to it.
So, the question is: How much value does “Made in America” really have? Is this a case of empty patriotic rhetoric or are you really willing to pay more, and, if so, how much more? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Be sure to give us some context for your perspective as well – are you a consumer looking for an HTPC, a business customer looking to maximize profits, or a government buyer who has to ensure a certain percentage of goods are made in the US?