Housing Complex

Alliance for American Manufacturing, Made in the USA (Mostly)

American manufacturing is making a comeback. Just yesterday, Walmart announced a plan to buy $50 billion more American-made products over the next 10 years. But most of us still see "Made in China" or "Made in Indonesia" a lot more often than we see "Made in the USA." So U.S. manufacturing's official cheerleader, the Alliance for American Manufacturing, decided to lead by example.

AAM moved into its new offices at 711 D St. NW in November, and conducted an experiment: Could the company furnish the space with only American-made products?

The short answer is no. There were certain things—electronics, mostly—that simply couldn't be found from American producers. But for the most part, AAM has succeeded in its mission, and its office is something of a showcase of American manufacturing.

"The point of this office is to show it's a lot easier than you think," says AAM executive director Scott Paul.

Our tour began in one of the small offices, where Paul showed off a desk from Washington state. But things took a turn downhill from there, when we got to the products on the desk.

"You can't find phones, video display terminals," says Paul. "I mean, none of that is American-made." Paul couldn't find American-made computers, either, though that may change following Apple's announcement that it plans to make some Macs in the United States.

In the kitchen, most of the appliances were American-made, from the Whirlpool fridge to the Uline trash and recycling bins. The longest search was for an ADA-compliant dishwasher, which ended up being a Bosch model (a German company, but American-made) that appears to be several hundred dollars more expensive than some of the foreign-made competition. The one thing AAM couldn't find was a coffee maker. "Not one made in the United States," says Paul. "Zero."

The copy room is also a mixed bag. All of the copy paper is American-made, as are the fire alarm and thermostat (provided by the landlord, but conveniently homegrown). But not the Canon copier. "Big copiers, no one makes them in the United States," says Paul.

The building, fittingly, was once home to a Union Hardware and was built at the end of the 19th century. AAM has chosen to leave many of the original structures, even when strange and jutting, to highlight the glory days when "made in the USA" was a given.

Click on the photo below for a slideshow of American-made equipment and structures in the office:

  • Murray Passarieu

    Systemax computers are assembled in the US and are really good. The only American-made way I know to make coffee is one cup at a time with an Aeropress coffee maker. I guess if you wanted to go all the way, you could use Hawaiian coffee.

  • Katya

    There are US coffeemaker companies, I think Bunn does at least some of the assembly here.

  • Keith

    Good luck trying to find a ceiling fan or television made in the states. We always have to get exemptions for those.

  • kidcat24

    Element Electronic Televisions. Made in the U.S.A.

  • kidcat24

    The motor in Matthews Fan Co. fans are Made in the U.S.A.

  • kidcat24
  • Chris

    Bunn assembles 3 home coffee makers in Iowa. They have a blog post about it here: http://www.bunnathome.com/blog/2011/03/assembled-usa They also assemble most of their workplace models in Springfield IL.