20 Shades of Acrylic Mirror – Made In USA by Plaskolite, Inc
The times are changing and the pendulum is beginning to swing back to our side of the ocean!
In my previous blog post, I decided to focus on the many benefits of products, Made In USA. I expected responses that would chastise us for not understanding the complex dynamics which make products unaffordable to produce in the US due to overseas competition; but we were surprised instead to find the majority of responses we received mirrored our feelings! (No pun intended). That’s great news for US manufacturers if there is in fact a growing movement of US businesses and consumers to try and purchase more products domestically.
It’s difficult to overcome preconceived notions that are deeply engrained in the public psyche, but we suppose the proof will be when US manufacturing sales increase.
In this blog, I’d like to focus on one of our most valued vendors, Plaskolite Inc., along with their high quality line of mirrored acrylic sheet. For decades, Acrilex has been a distributor for the full line of products offered by Plaskolite, Inc, but it is their line of mirrored acrylic sheet which truly sets them apart from all other plastic mirror manufacturers (foreign and domestic). Of course Plaskolite will say all their products set them apart (salespeak of course), but I can tell you very quickly why Plaskolite is such a valuable domestic supplier of mirror.
Let’s begin first by ignoring price considerations. We can ignore it because price is not a consideration here. Simply put, Plaskolite’s FABBACK mirror is simply the best quality mirrored acrylic sheet on the market. I’m not pandering to our supplier, nor am I trying to blow smoke up anyone’s behind…it’s simply the truth. I realize this sounds salesy, so I’ll tell you why.
Acrylic mirror needs to be distortion free, flat, easy to fabricate, and have a tough protective coating on the mirror side to prevent damage during storage, handling, fabrication, installation, and use. It also needs to have a protective masking on the face that can withstand the rigors of fabrication, storage, handling, packaging and shipping. Both film masking and paper masking options are available from Plaskolite, and they don’t use cheap junk we often see on imports! Plaskolite utilizes the highest quality extruders in the industry, in a super clean environment, which allows them to produce the best quality of extruded acrylic in clear and colored acrylic sheets under their brand name, OPTIX® as well as masking materials from suppliers of paper and polyethylene maskings.
“FABBACK colored acrylic mirror sheet is made from OPTIX® continuously processed acrylic sheet. Using vacuum metalizing, each sheet is given a mirror finish that is protected by the industry’s toughest, most durable backing. An overage of 1” is provided on standard sheet sizes for maximum yield when laser cutting, and all mirror acrylic colored sheet is covered by a 3-mil laser cuttable film. 19 stocked colors with custom colors and sizes available.” according to Plaskolite, Inc.
Our experience at Acrilex backs up their claim as having the “toughest, most durable backing”. Every day, Acrilex produces cut, routed, laser cut, and polished mirror parts for its customer base of display, fixture, sign, and novelty customers. We can not afford to be replacing defective parts or parts that are damaged during fabrication. Because the backing on plastic mirror vary dramatically in the industry, FABBACK has proven to be the most consistant and durable product on the market; able to withstand the variety of handling and fabrication rigors in our manufacturing environment. Any time we have looked to trim costs, or our customer has pressured us to use an alternative product, we have met with poor results. Often times the backing on other products is inconsistant, or too fragile to handle effectively. Scratches on the backing will show as from the face and cannot be repaired. Delamination of the metalized backing also frequently occurs on products that are produced in one location, and later metalized at another facility. This is a common practice of other suppliers that do not have their own in house mirrorizing capabilites, and also common among inexpensive imported products. Simply put, there is no price really low enough to justify having to remanufacture defective parts or risking a customer relationship over. Our customers need it right the first time, and from experience we have learned that Plaskolite FABBACK mirror is the go to material for that.
Here is where having a domestic supplier really counts…
While Plaskolite has a near perfect record with us on their products, no one is perfect. I repeat…NO ONE! Though their mirror is the most consistent, highest quality in the industry, things have on rare occassion gone wrong. This is where domestic suppliers shine! On the rare occasions that a problem arises with a batch of product, Plaskolite has ALWAYS reacted quickly and without having to resort to threats or lawsuits. U.S. companies offer warranties on products they manufacture and stand behind them (or risk U.S. consumer protection litigation). Even when foreign suppliers offer similar warranties, they cannot respond to problems, nor supply replacement goods in any reasonable time period. Furthermore, try litigating with a foreign supplier who has already received payment from you and is not subject to U.S. law or penalties and see how well that goes. Good luck…you just have to walk away and chalk it up to an expensive learning experience.
It also helps that Plaskolite maintains sufficient inventory of it’s “odd” products to be able to quick supply domestic distributors with all the products they need, quickly and affordably, which allows us to pass that same capability along to our customers.
It boils down to the old equation of “price, quality, and service”. While that has become sales cliché, that is really what it is all about in the end. Buying products Made In USA is still a great way to go to achieve the result of that equation, while also supporting U.S. jobs, local & federal tax base, and our own economy. For more on that, see last month’s blog: http://acrilex.com/2014/06/
For the few cents per square foot that other products may save, vs. FABBACK mirror by Plaskolite, the costs for making the wrong purchase decision are far greater. Domestic ultimately pays better dividends all around in this case.
For more information on FABBACK Mirror, download the PDF Below:
Acriglas Cast Acrylic Sheet is Proud of “Made in USA” Branding
When people ask you where you are from, what do you tell them? I can’t speak for you, but I was made in the USA, and if you were born in the US, then you are from here too. Call yourself “Italian-American”, “Asian-American”, “Latin-American”, “African-American”, “Irish-American” etc, that’s fine; but I’m a good old “Native American” though not the Indian kind. Where is your American pride and spirit? Don’t take this country for granted; you’re here because this is where your ancestors wanted to be; the land of opportunity, land of the free, and home of the brave! Be Proud!
We take for granted that almost everything is manufactured overseas. We expect availability of everything at a low cost due to globalization and the ability to produce things inexpensively elsewhere, especially Asia. So why is anything made in the United States anymore, and what could be your reason for buying products that are “Made in USA”?
Industries will argue it costs too much to make stuff here. Honestly, if you’re going to make something here that looks, works, and has similar quality to products made elsewhere…I would agree that paying more to be proud will not motivate consumers to spend the extra dough. There really isn’t a reason strong enough to make the same products here if there is no greater value in doing so.
Survival in manufacturing in the USA today lies in specialization, premium product offerings, and service. Innovation, creativity, speed of delivery, warranties, and service to end users become the most valuable assets of products manufactured in this country. We can still make stuff here…just not cheap stuff.
Acrilex, for example, manufactures cast acrylic sheet, but not the same pallet of typical commodity colors that every other manufacturer of cast acrylic offers. It does cost us more to make a sheet of acrylic vs just about everyone else, so what we do has to be special. What Acrilex offers are custom colored acrylic sheets, special patterns, different textures, and a process to make a designer or architect’s creativity the focus of the product. Acrilex makes it possible, easy, and “affordable”. So while not “cheap”, it’s not prohibitive either; we live in the Goldilocks zone of manufacturing.
By producing unique products, made-to-order, conceived not by Acrilex, but by Acrilex’s customers, the company manages to continuously re-invent itself. Manufacturing is done quickly and products literally go from concept to delivery in 3-4 weeks. As far as I know, that is not something that you can really do quickly or inexpensively overseas. Acrilex’s existence still allows for the “Art” in manufacturing.
One website I frequent, www.madeintheusabrand.com, features a blog that often discusses the reasons for branding a product that is manufactured in the USA. Below is an excerpt from a guest blog by Tom Bonine, President of National Metal Fabricators, which I couldn’t have expressed any better. The original blog in it’s entirety can be found at: MadeInTheUSABrand, and focuses on other compelling reasons to look for and purchase products manufactured in the United States.
• Jobs and the economy. The bottom line is that when you buy American, you are either creating or saving American jobs. When production facilities move overseas, so do the jobs. Once these jobs go abroad, it is very unlikely that they will come back. Jobs are the foundation of an economy, and purchasing products that are made in a country has a direct impact on its economy. More manufacturing jobs lowers the unemployment rate and increases the tax base to pay for benefits, such as Social Security. New jobs created in one industry can also lead to new jobs in other businesses. For example, every new auto manufacturing job supports nine additional jobs, from parts manufacturers to restaurant employees.
• Labor standards. Working conditions in some countries are not safe. Some do not have minimum age restrictions and allow young children to work long hours for very little money. The United States has strict labor laws that ensure safe working environments and child labor laws to keep young children out of factories.
• Manufacturing processes. The manufacturing processes in the U.S. are considerably more environmentally friendly than the processes in many foreign countries. It is not uncommon to find foreign products that were made using processes that dangerously pollute the air, soil, and water. The U.S. has a strong commitment to protecting the environment for future generations.
• Fair wages. Many foreign countries do not have minimum wage requirements or have wages that are too low. American workers are guaranteed fair pay for honest work.
• Independence. The decrease in manufacturing in the U.S. has made this country more dependent on outside sources, putting this country at a strategic disadvantage. Purchasing American-made items heightens independence for America.
• Trade deficit. The substantial trade deficit in the U.S. has contributed to increased borrowing from foreign countries at levels that cannot be sustained. Individual citizens may not have felt the effect of this yet, but they will if the debt continues to grow and affects the overall economy. In 2009, for example, the national trade deficit in the U.S. was a factor in the reduction in economic growth from four percent to three percent. Buying items made in the U.S. is one way to reduce this country’s large trade deficit, as well as support the American economy.
• Safety standards. Many foreign countries have extremely low product safety standards. For example, millions of toys are exported to the U.S. every year that contain dangerous levels of lead. When you buy American-made products, you are guaranteed to have items that meet U.S. consumer safety standards and protection laws.
• Political conflict. A number of popular items are produced in countries that do not have favorable relations with the United States. Choosing products made in America frees the U.S. from having to access materials and supplies from these countries.
• Conservation. When the U.S. purchases products made overseas, they must be shipped a considerable distance, typically over either the Pacific or Atlantic Oceans. Shipping these distances uses huge amounts of fuel and releases unnecessary emissions into the environment.
Patriotism alone is not the only reason to look to this country’s manufacturers. Quality, service, innovation, time-to-market, protecting the US economy and labor force all offer strong arguments for domestic production. Don’t just “look for the Union Label”, look for the “Made In USA” brand mark!