Wednesday, April 19, 2017
MINI motorcycle and go-kart maker Monster Moto made a big bet on US manufacturing by moving assembly to this Louisiana town in 2016 from China.
But it will be a long ride before it can stamp its products “Made in USA.”
The loss of nearly one out four US factories in the last two decades means parts for its bike frames and engines must be purchased in China, where the manufacturing supply chain moved years ago.
“There’s just no way to source parts in America right now,” said Monster Moto CEO Alex Keechle during a tour of the company’s assembly plant.
“But by planting the flag here, we believe suppliers will follow.”
Monster Moto’s experience is an example of the obstacles American companies face as they, along with President Donald Trump, try to rebuild American manufacturing. US automakers and their suppliers, for example, have already invested billions in plants abroad and would face an expensive and time-consuming transition to buy thousands of American-made parts if President Trump’s proposed “border tax” on imported goods were to become law.
When companies reshore assembly to US soil — in Monster Moto’s case that took two years to find a location and negotiate support from local and state officials — they are betting their demand will create a local supply chain that does not exist.