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Stakeholder Advisory Board

Preserving U.S. Manufacturing Jobs

The Challenge

A company that employs 450 workers and produces a range of hearing aids in the United States was feeling competitive pressure in the marketplace from Asian manufacturers. To price its product more economically the company had contemplated transferring production to Mexico or Taiwan. However, before it would make such a decision, the company decided to look for ways it could maintain manufacturing in the U.S. with the goal of preserving jobs without losing sales or market share. In order to accomplish this, the company needed input, ideas and advice from leaders representing all entities that would be affected by the company's decision regarding whether its products could continue to be "Made in the USA".

The Solution

As a solution to the company's needs, a one-day Stakeholders Advisory Board Meeting was organized. Participants included 1 representative from the mayor's office, 1 legislator from the state assembly, 1 delegate from a U.S. Senator's office, 1 representative from the Regional Economic Development Office, 1 district member of the House of Representatives, 2 members of the worker's union, 2 members of the non-union management committee, 1 preeminent economist in domestic versus off-shore manufacturing (as an expert), 2 key suppliers, and 2 key customers.

After an opening presentation by the company, the moderator proceeded to engage the participants in an in-depth discussion exploring all aspects of the company's options, concerns, and goals. This was facilitated through a series of 7 primary questions and 22 follow-up questions. The primary questions were:

  1. What forms of local, state and federal assistance could be available to keep production within the U.S.?
  2. Could tax concessions be arranged through the Regional Economic Development Office?
  3. What savings could be realistically gained through negotiating union concessions?
  4. Would non-unionized workers consider a multi-year salary freeze in exchange for profit sharing and stock options?
  5. Would suppliers be willing to re-negotiate existing contracts?
  6. Were there savings to be derived from flex-hours, remote workers, and part time workers instead of paid-overtime?
  7. How important was "Made in the USA" to customers; What was its monetized value?

The Outcome

The Task Force provided the company with a breadth of innovative strategies and valuable advice on how to achieve its goal of maintaining production in the United States. This was further crystallized by the prepared Report and Analysis of the meeting. The company was thereafter able to fully assess its options and formulate the best decision with the direct involvement of its stakeholders.