Making it in America

While it may seem like there are very few options out there for conscientious shoppers who want to buy American-made goods, that is not the case. Domestically made products may be harder to find, but they’re out there.

Lawson Nickol, 59, a father, economist and the proud owner of a garment manufacturing company that specializes in American-made jeans, is making sure of that.

He is the owner and a co-founder of the Ohio-based All American Clothing Co.

“We’re 100 percent USA made,” he said. “Everything that we do is inside the Untied States – including all the labor and the owners of the company that are involved in this.”

Nickol previously worked as a consultant for distribution companies that sold jeans. After discovering that the company he was working for had begun outsourcing its production to Mexico, he was left with a choice: stay in his current position, make a comfortable living and ignore his principles, or resign. He chose the later after just one day.

“I decided that I needed to leave that company before I was involved in them moving across the borders,” he said.

The year was 2002, and Nickol decided to start his own business, one that values its American workforce.

“The difference in All American Clothing is we think it’s tremendously more important to save the United States than it is to get rich doing it,” he said.

The company has grown every year since. With six employees, and a host of fully certified, all-American contractors, the company experienced one of its best years yet in 2010, when revenues rose 60 percent. Thus far in 2011, through two months, revenues are up another 40 percent.

“We’re not getting rich. We’re trying to do the right thing,” Nickol said.

“My entrepreneurial passion is I want my kids to have an opportunity to work and live in the United States at the standard of living that I was able to live with.”

Nickol believes that the newfound success is directly attributable to America’s economic problems. People are feeling vulnerable, and finally starting to recognize the importance of buying domestically.

Sometimes, though, it’s not always that easy.

“You can’t find places to buy USA made garments,” he said. “There’s just not any out there,” besides his company, of course.

He also realizes that America’s failed trade policies make it difficult for companies like his to compete. Those policies have made it extremely easy for American companies to outsource production to places like China, Mexico and Vietnam, where wages are much cheaper.

According to Nickol, because of America’s trade policies, his biggest competition is in China.

“It’s not Joe down on the corner. It’s not Levi. It’s China,” he said.

“The government needs to fix its trade laws. We need to be able to compete on a level playing field.”

Nickol said that the cost of making a pair of jeans in China is roughly .80 to .90 cents per pair. The cost in the U.S., on the other hand, is about $12 to $18 per pair.

Despite the costs, the thought of outsourcing production has never crossed Nickol’s mind.

“If I was in it for the money, I wouldn’t be making my jeans in the United States,” he said.

“I’m doing it because of the standard of living I want my family, and everyone else in the United States to have.”

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