As global stock markets rebounded Tuesday despite China's continued selloff, the focus now is on China's economy and whether leaders can engineer a smooth slowdown. With little hope of a surge in consumer-led domestic demand, China is turning to its old standby model of exporting more goods.
Amid this backdrop, at least one pocket of American manufacturing isn't waiting breathlessly for details on the health of China's economy. Some small U.S. manufacturers have found a niche selling unique "Made in USA" goods in locations from Dubai to Hong Kong. Years ago, these small companies saw Chinese wages rising steadily. They did the supply chain math and made a bet to make products on U.S. soil. And are now reaping the rewards of not being tethered to China's wage pressures, or the costly travel and time associated with transporting goods from Asian manufacturing hubs.
These local U.S. companies noticed manufacturing price shifts in China and the U.S., and made a bet to play the global market with a domestic hand. And for some of these businesses, the gamble so far is paying off.
"Our Asia market is strong," says Bryan Scott, owner of Barn Light Electric, a small lighting manufacturer with plant operations in Titusville, Florida, and Melbourne, Australia. Barn Light Electric specializes in American-made warehouse style lighting. Think cool copper lighting fixtures, porcelain lamp shades and unique wall sconces.
"We do a lot of five-star hotels and establishments in China, including Hong Kong," Scott says. His Melbourne plant with 15 employees serves the Asia market. About 130 additional workers are based in the U.S.
Scott's take on China's turmoil? "China seems to be devaluing its currency in an attempt to get their prices back down," Scott said. "It's an incentive to lure manufacturing back to China."