Just another day at the office . . . well, except for the fact that I am a little sore and tired. Why, you ask? Because yesterday I spent most of the day with Rudy, the warehouse manager, unloading a 40-foot container filled with product . That is life at a family-owned American business. My title is Vice President, but yesterday I was a warehouse grunt. On any given day I can be salesman, marketer, logistics manger, admin, or any other title you want to give me. The bottom line is that when a job needs to get done, someone has to do it; when resources aren’t endless, sometimes that someone is the VP; so I step out of my office and do whatever job needs to get done, no matter how big or small. In a small business, every task is important and has to get done by somebody. That is what hard working American businesses do every day without glory. We make up the majority of the businesses in America but account for a fraction of the revenue.

This makes me think of bigger issues at the forefront of our society and nation as a whole. I usually don’t go out and unload containers because the company’s money is better spent on me doing other things that not everyone here can do. But, due the economy and new competition, we are in a place where we have had to lay off employees, cut hours, cut overall spending across the board, and turn the switch to survival mode. We had to let go one young employee who has been with us since just about the beginning. To make it worse, he is engaged to be married. This is not something we like to do, but we have been here before and I am confident we will make it through.

While I realize the ups and downs are just part of doing business, it has made me think about our nation as a whole, our government, and the choices and decisions each American makes everyday. I see that some of our choices as a company have helped to get us into the current dilemma; as I was unloading boxes yesterday, every one said “made in China.” Am I happy about that? No.

Let me explain, then, why we manufacture overseas. The company started because my wife saw a problem with the way parents travel with kids and found a solution. Following the pursuit of the American Dream, she designed and patented her idea and brought it to market. The original product was 100% American: designed, manufactured, and assembled in the USA. Unfortunately, we were pushed overseas by American manufactures with a bad attitude, poor quality, and high prices. So, here we are almost ten years later with 100% designed in America- Made in China products.  How do we fix that? Stay tuned . . .

But first, American consumers need to look in the mirror as well and take some responsibility. We want the highest quality product at the lowest price. Understandable, who wouldn’t? But because our workers wanted more and more money for less, small American companies like Go-Go Babyz could no longer make products here and resell them at a price consumers would pay and stay in business. It’s a sad, vicious cycle. And now look where we are: manufacturing, one the strongest industries that helped make this nation great, is disappearing rapidly and taking jobs with it.

One place to start is government. It doesn’t matter if you are democrat or republican, conservative or liberal, right wing or left wing, or anywhere in between. You are American; we are American, and we are all in this together. If one side fails, we all fail; we all suffer the same consequences if this nation collapses. We need to get our representatives to do what’s right – make them accountable to the people who elected them . . .us . . . the American people. We need to bring jobs back to America now. We need long term goals supported by both long- and short-term solutions.

We all need to see our part and be accountable. We CAN make a difference and need to start somewhere if we want this nation to return to greatness. We need to take care of our own first. We need to support our small family businesses, whether a local coffee shop, grocery chain, car dealership, or other small business. Spend your hard-earned money where it will keep Americans employed and the local economies thrive. I know it’s not an overnight solution, or that it’s as simple as I am making it, but we need to start somewhere in order to make a difference.

The impact of our choices goes beyond local jobs and economies. Think of the global environment. All of those containers of products we, and other American companies, receive every day are produced in factories that do not have the strict environmental laws that we have here. Then, they are shipped on cargo ships that run on the worst fuel there is.

I can go on and on and would still just barely scratch the surface of this issue. It’s a complicated situation with complicated solutions, but there are solutions, and we can make a difference together. Just a few things that I do personally: I patronize my local small chain grocery store; I buy locally grown produce; I support small family businesses whenever possible; and I buy American whenever I can.  Go-Go Babyz is trying to do the same. Our next major product coming to market, while still manufactured in China, will be assembled and packaged in America, right here in San Jose, CA.  I know it is not a perfect plan, but it is a start.  At least we will be able to keep another American employed to do this. Our hope is to recover from our current situation and invest in finding solutions to begin our journey to becoming 100% “Made-in-America” again.

Help Go-Go Babyz and myself spread the word. It is time for change and every single American has a vested interest in our country as well the ability to make it better. Pass this along to everyone you know and start to get the word out. Share your opinion as well; everyone’s voice matters.

– Kevin Williams
VP & Dad – and whatever else you want to call me!