Weekly Posting Goal:

Start off your week with a new post from Spark America every Sunday to get you informed and energized, and to give you meaningful, thought provoking information and inspirational dialog to share with your friends for the entire week. I welcome your comments.

Feel free to email me at GaetanoDrake(at)gmail(dot)com

I invite you to leave your thoughts and opinions in the comment section. Just click on "comments"at the bottom of each post.

Monday, October 29, 2012

"Made in USA"-----What Does It Mean?

The "Made in USA" designation means that "all or virtually all" of the product was made in the United States, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the agency in charge of enforcing the labeling standards.
More specifically, all significant parts, processing and labor that went into the product must be of U.S. origin.
Except for cars and textile and wool products, it is the choice of the manufacturer to say whether a product was made domestically.
In contrast, imported goods generally are required to be marked with a country of origin, such as "Made in Japan." Those labeling requirements are enforced by the U.S. Customs Service. (Fresh and processed foods fall under separate labeling guidelines).
U.S. companies also can make qualified claims that describe the extent or type of domestic content or processing for their goods. For example, "Made in USA of U.S. and imported parts," "Assembled in USA from Italian leather and Mexican frame," or "60% U.S. content" are qualified claims.
Even when it comes to qualified claims, the product must have a "significant" amount of U.S. content or processing, according to the FTC.
Products that include foreign parts may be labeled "Assembled in USA" when the principal assembly takes place in the United States and the assembly is substantial. The last "substantial transformation" of the product also must occur domestically.
That means that a computer whose major components are imported and are put together in a simple "screwdriver" operation in the United States would not qualify for the "Assembled in the USA" designation.

Friday, October 26, 2012

U.S. Manufacturing----Moving Forward

National News

When I was growing up, it seemed like everyone believed that United States manufacturers made the greatest products in the world. From our home appliances to our cars, we all chose made in America products for their quality and their value. No other country put as much pride, innovation, and workmanship into their design, and looking elsewhere wasn’t even an option.

U.S. manufacturing was a flagship of our economy, and nothing could knock it from its pedestal -- or so we thought.

Of course, the sentiment has changed since then as the economy has grown more global, and countries like china compete on price. But the pendulum is swinging back -- or should I say forward -- as made in America quality once again becomes a status symbol for consumers and a competitive advantage for manufacturers here at home.

In the end, more than 1,600 manufacturers, and nearly eight out of 10 of them indicated that they expect growth this year.

By standing behind their made in America quality, these manufacturers are even taking back business from the Chinese. They’re borrowing a page from the playbook of the Rodon Group of Hatfield, Pennsylvania, an injection molder of small plastic parts. A few years ago, when they sensed Chinese competitors gaining ground, Rodon launched an online “cheaper than china” campaign to focus on their American manufacturing values. Within two years, their sales jumped more than 30%.

These companies never lost sight of the glory of American manufacturing, and now the world is coming to share their point of view.
Research shows that U.S. manufacturers are entering new markets, expanding into new regions, and increasing their exports. With their gears fully in motion, American companies are looking to hire more workers to meet new market demand.

And that’s where this engine of economic growth suddenly starts to sputter.
Research supports what we are all seeing every day: despite an unemployment rate of close to 8%, manufacturing jobs are going unfilled. Nearly half of  respondents want to bring in line workers, skilled trade workers, and engineers. But the people who are qualified for these jobs are either untrained, or uninterested.

This is a symptom of a larger problem. Despite the resurging interest in U.S. products, American manufacturing is in need of a brand makeover.

The changing face of U.S. manufacturing

While Americans are proud of the quality of our products, many have a far different perception of manufacturing jobs. They see manufacturing as “dead,” lacking opportunities or challenges, and even as dirty or “undesirable” work. They’re blind to the reality that today’s manufacturing jobs blend design with technology and robotics, and many pay extremely well.

With shop classes disappearing and families and educators pushing students of all abilities toward a bachelor’s degree, however, younger generations have no opportunity to be exposed to the rewards of a manufacturing career.

Respondents to our survey are vocal about this issue. They stress the importance of stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curricula, along with support for technical and vocational schools. One of them notes that we must “get the message out that manufacturing isn’t dead in the U.S.; it has just gone high-tech.”

It’s gratifying to hear from individuals like Tracy Tenpenny, vice president of sales and marketing with tailored label products (TLP) in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.

Tracy advocated for TLP's sponsorship of a program called second chance partners, which helps high school students to gain manufacturing skills. Many of these students come from challenging backgrounds, and they are at risk of not finishing high school. Through second chance, they continue working toward their diplomas while beginning to learn a trade. TLP actually installed a classroom at their plant so that these students can continue their academics there for two hours a day. The rest of the time, they are working at TLP and other area manufacturers. TLP is not only introducing them to a new profession; the company has hired two of these students.

Rodon, too, has innovated to develop a solution. The company formed a consortium of about 50 local manufacturers. Together, these firms have approached two-year colleges and trade schools in their area, asking them to send graduates their way. Not only does this help Rodon and neighboring companies to grow; it’s a competitive advantage for the schools, who are able to demonstrate a return on their training. In addition, consortium members are presenting at middle schools and high schools to ignite students’ interest in manufacturing.

These are just two of many examples of manufacturers who are taking the initiative to help their industry make a comeback. Families, educators, associations, government, and businesses are all stepping up. We were gratified to endorse national manufacturing day, another wonderful example, with manufacturers opening their doors to students and their families, and associations offering insights and resources to aspiring and current manufacturers alike.

U.S. manufacturers, after all, have a passion for their industry. Eight out of 10 of those we surveyed would choose their industries all over again, and they want to share their enthusiasm with the next generation. Great things are possible when bright, ambitious young people have the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge to real-world applications, and contribute meaningfully to the growth of a company, a sector – and ultimately the economic vitality of our nation. To engage this new generation, we must restore -- and elevate -- the U.S. manufacturing brand.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Leo Buscaglia----Six Part Series -YOU MUST WATCH THIS!

This is a MUST!. Go to youtube.com, search Leo Buscaglia. Watch the entire six part series, it will change your life.

George McGovern--Looking Back At Small Business

Just finished a read about George McGovern by one of his friends who happens to be one of my favorite syndicated columnists. One of the examples that he gave about McGovern's life lessons was that after he bought a Connecticut Inn and failed to make it in business, George wished he had known more about the hazards and difficulties of such a business.......and that during the years he was in public office he had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day.
This out of touch understanding of small business by Congress even today is the real issue that no one in Congress can possibly comprehend unless they were small business owners before getting elected to Congress. They need to feel our pain.
How can someone understand the pain of a physical or mental disorder if they themselves have not first hand experience?
Small business is still the backbone of this great nation and the engine that drives the economy. It is time for the White House to put on its apron and go to work for small business America.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Where Is JFK When We Need Him

With the election just around the corner here is something to think about. No matter who gets elected, life in America will probably go unchanged. It will take millions of mighty men to make the changes to galvanize this great nation. Ultimately it will take ONE mighty man to be the great leader to spark this new generation of young people to energize America. 
John F. Kennedy was a political hero. He was a president who like other great presidents before him, is the standard by which we should judge the two candidates we will vote for on November 6th. 
Shall we never forget "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". No truer words were ever spoken that need to be repeated across this country more than ever today. President Kennedy passed the torch of optimism and imagination to a whole generation of Americans.
We are standing on the edge of a new frontier. Will we find that leader when it comes time to vote this November? Maybe we should be looking down the road a little and take some time to find that next leader after what may be four more years of business as usual. We MUST raise the bar!
Let this be an era of change, change for the better.
The death of John Kennedy changed everything in the U.S. We can only hope our next President can take over where JFK. left off. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Memory Lane Is A One Way Street

Today is a day in which we have an opportunity to make the right choices as to what we do and what we say to others because tomorrow they become memories, and we will have to live with the choices we make today. If we choose to be the example of what we want others to be, every walk down memory lane will be a joyful one.
In America today we seem to be focused either on what has happened in the past, and do not see a bright future.This is a path that we have the opportunity to change. Take every day and seize the opportunity and seize the day. If we fill every day with optimism and look forward to helping others we can create peace.
Peace in our own lives and in the wonderful community in which we live. Remember, memory lane is a one way street. Some things you just can't take to the bank.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Change Your Words, Change Your World

The words we choose to use can change the world around us.
One of the lessons I have learned in life is that if you change your words you can change the world around you. Picture this: You are walking down the street and pass a blind man sitting on the sidewalk. As you approach him you see on a cardboard sign the words” I am blind, please help.” You stand there for awhile and notice people are just walking by without giving him any money. The dollar you leave him just doesn’t seem to be enough to make up for all the people who gave nothing. On your way back from an errand you decide to walk by the blind man again to leave a more generous amount of money. As you round the corner you witness a large number of people leaving money in the coffee can  as if some one had told them to do so. A few steps closer and you see the reason why. Someone had changed the words on his sign to say “It is a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” When we change the words we use, we can often change a person's life.
Maybe if we took the time to change our negative words to more positive ones we could change the world around us. I know it can, you know it will.

Friday, October 5, 2012

America's Greatness

It seems that all we read and hear about are the insurmountable problems we have in America. What we need to do is to find and be a part of something much bigger than we are and the problems we face. I believe that ”bigger” is staring us right in the face and we cannot see her. She is America!
A few weeks ago my wife Debbie sent me her first picture ever of standing facing the Grand Canyon. The words attached to that message: “This brought me to tears”. It was at that moment that I realized what had happened to her. She had just experienced the thrill and vastness of something so much larger than all of us. We can only imagine. I wish I was there to share that moment with her. What she really experienced was the wonder and vastness of mother America. I am sure it also took her breath away.
We as a nation need to find that vastness and wonder in her; she is in trouble and needs us and we need her. She is and will always be the ”bigger” we will always need. This can only come from we the people. She belongs to us and we belong to her. Let the love affair begin. The time has come.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Get Back In The Race

In the media and  many social conversations today we seem to be comfortable with the understanding that we need to be discussing people as “generations”. Generation this, generation that,  and what each generation has and has not accomplished. This is a conversation that because all we seem to do is blame the OTHER generation for life as it is in the US today, will never be a conversation of action. I am a part of the “Men of a Certain Age” generation that seems to have given up and stopped carrying the torch that will help Americans to win the race. Who told you to give up and get out of the race? Who told you to give up your commitment to be a “Mighty Man”, for its ok  just the way things are? Things haven’t changed in American for at least the last 30 years. It is time for the” Men of a Certain Age”generation to  get back in the race and show the other generations what it means to be a man of Integrity and honor. Mighty men who used to stand for something and have decided it is better to sit. That it is ok for someone else to show us how to get the job done. Now is the time to wake up and be the generation of men who spark others to follow their lead. Through our life long commitment to help others, we will be that catalyst that will demonstrate through our actions that putting the needs of others before our own is what shapes a nation and builds a strong foundation. We men of a certain age MUST be the generation of truth and love. We are the last line of defence against all that seems to be going wrong in this greatest country in the world. Our time is now. If not now, when?

Monday, October 1, 2012

All We Need Is Love

All we need is love. Love will build a bridge between your heart and mine. The capability of loving is what defines us as humans. There is no greater love than he who is in me. Love is the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end, it has no end.
Just a bunch of words until we begin to live them every day of our lives.
Find someone who needs love and love them.