Obama praises Master Lock “insourcing” during State of the Union Address

During his State of the Union address Tuesday night President Barack Obama highlighted Oak Creek-based Master Lock Co. for bringing back 100 jobs from China to its Milwaukee factory.
“We can’t bring every job back that’s left our shore,” Obama said. “But right now, it’s getting more expensive to do business in places like China. Meanwhile, America is more productive. A few weeks ago, the CEO of Master Lock told me that it now makes business sense for him to bring jobs back home. Today, for the first time in 15 years, Master Lock’s unionized plant in Milwaukee is running at full capacity. So we have a huge opportunity, at this moment, to bring manufacturing back.  But we have to seize it. Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.”
Republicans were critical of Obama’s speech, saying his economic agenda has been a failure.
“The President’s speech may have focused on job creation and support for American businesses, but his Administration has been anything but friendly to the private sector,” said U.S. Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls. “In the last three years, our country has witnessed the longest period of sustained high unemployment since the Great Depression and three record-breaking deficits.”
Master Lock president and chief executive officer John Heppner said it was an honor for the company to be mentioned by Obama during his speech.
“We are honored to be mentioned by the President in such a traditional and time-honored event as the State of the Union address,” Heppner said. “As an American manufacturing company in business for approximately 90 years, we are proud to participate in the trend of ‘insourcing’ jobs back to the U.S.”
The decision to bring these jobs back was partially motivated by economic reasons related to increasingly higher labor and logistics costs in Asia, and further, ongoing labor availability challenges especially in the coastal areas of China, the company said in a statement. The advantages of moving the jobs to Milwaukee include a more competitive overall cost structure, greater control and the ability to provide better service to customers in addition to the overall economic benefit to the company’s home state of Wisconsin.
According to Heppner, Master Lock would like to bring more jobs back from overseas should the underlying economics support the move.
Earlier this month, Heppner participated in the Insourcing American Jobs forum at the White House, in which he and other business leaders met with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the insourcing trend and offer input on how to encourage businesses to invest in America.
During the forum, Heppner stressed two key challenges that he recommends government and business officials address to continue the insourcing of jobs: Improve access to skilled labor in North America and innovate the supply chain structure in North America.
“The number of young people exposed to skilled labor trades through education or family and friends is declining while our current skilled labor workforce is aging,” Heppner said. “At Master Lock, we partner with trade schools and other educational institutions to help inspire young workers to choose careers in skilled labor. We encourage our government and other businesses to engage with these organizations and        
invest in training future generations in skilled labor careers."

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