I run a business and I believe in made-in-America, come hell or high water. Here's how I do it


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People said we couldn’t do it. People said we shouldn’t do it. I said do it anyway. 

But when you say that you want to make a product in America these days, people look at you like you’ve lost your mind. Designers, marketers, parts buyers, suppliers, financiers: everyone asks why you don’t just make it abroad – it’s like a default. But it makes no sense to me. 

A few years ago, I realized that outdoorsmen have awesome knives, tools, boots, rifles, saddles and trucks, but no good work surface. Every man has been yelled at by his wife for turning her cooler upside down and gutting a fish on it. So, I founded Pecos Outdoor to build a rugged, high-quality table. And every time someone told me we had to make them abroad, it just made me want to make them in America more. So that’s what we do. 


Admittedly, the made-in-America movement has had an up-and-down history, with accusations of red-white-and-blue washing and limited success in weening consumers off cheap foreign goods. But things may be changing. Pandemic shortages, supply-chain failures and foreign pressures mean that we may be in the early stage of a great on-shoring of American manufacturing. So, here’s how companies can make it work. 

Commercial salmon fishing is part of a huge outdoors industry worth $700 billion. 

First, know your customer 

The outdoor recreation market in the U.S. is worth about $700 billion and American sportsmen won’t hesitate to drop top dollar on high-quality products, whether it’s a mountain bike, camp knife or pickup truck. And it’s not just the well-off consumer. Blue-collar sportsmen want the best when they spend their hard-earned dollars. 

From the duck blinds of Louisiana, to the horse trails of Montana and the fishing marinas of California, Americans have developed a culture which puts a premium on high-end goods and curated experiences. And no one wants to cheapen that experience with flimsy Chinese stuff. 

Whether you’re a modern environmentalist or a Teddy Roosevelt conservationist, we all agree that things should be less disposable and more durable. None of my friends would spend their money on a poor-quality foreign product, when they could buy one made by American craftsmen which will last a lifetime. I’m betting my business that you wouldn’t either. 

Second, know your guys 

Our company’s workers reside primarily in two domestic manufacturing facilities: the table tops are produced in Ashland, Ohio; and the legs just outside Chicago, Illinois. And I can tell you the names of every shop floor supervisor. 

The outdoor recreation market in the U.S. is worth about $700 billion and American sportsmen won’t hesitate to drop top dollar on high-quality products, whether it’s a mountain bike, camp knife or pickup truck. 

We could certainly save money ordering our parts to spec from Mexico or Asia where labor costs are lower, but the consequent trade-offs aren’t worth it. By having our facilitates close, they’re just a phone call or a drive away. Early on we had to move a facility from Pennsylvania to Ohio and it took us just a week to make the change. If it had been 3,000 miles away, the problem could have killed our nascent business. 


And the investment has long-term positive impacts. By using the American labor force, American shipping, American tools and American products, manufacturing at home puts every dollar back into the country. That money translates down the road into more talented workers and higher standards in our sector, which will pay dividends as we scale and hire. 

Third, know your supply chain

The pandemic showed that ‘just-in-time’ fulfillment comes with a cost. Companies which have some redundancy in their supply chains will weather future shocks better. 

Being U.S.-based also means you can get inventory quickly. Whereas foreign manufacturers may have trouble fulfilling demand peaks, such as holidays, companies who manufacture domestically have the ability to control their supply and aren’t subject to international turmoil. 


Even if your company does all three of these things, the road ahead won’t be easy. Over the next decade, America faces some major issues: double-digit inflation; a coming recession; Washington red tape; an ongoing war in Ukraine; and an increasingly assertive Chinese Communist Party. Any of these could de-rail the on-shoring of American manufacturing. 

But ultimately, I’m an optimist and a patriot. So, staring all of our country’s challenges right in the face, here’s my pledge: Pecos tables will be made in America, come hell or high water. 

Rick Scheen is the founder and CEO of Pecos Outdoors.

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