Good Nancy Crawley column in the Grand Rapids Press on the fortunes on Bissell – the vacuum cleaner company in West Michigan. Crawley argues that they are a model for manufacturers succeeding in Michigan, rather than abandoning the state.
I couldn’t agree more. Its a Michigan example of the Apple model I wrote about in a recent blog. High value pre and post production work done here, while making products in a developing country. Bissell laid off 200 factory workers five years ago. Those jobs went to Mexico. Sound like the familiar Michigan in decline story? Think again! Because there are now 350 Bissell knowledge workers here. With plans to add more.
Whether its high tech products like Apple makes or old line products like Bissell makes, the work that can and should be centered in America is in inventing, engineering, designing and marketing products, not making them. And just like Apple, Bissell understands that their future success is dependent on constant innovation. Inventing what’s next, rather than simply producing today’s products over and over again.
The jobs Bissell is filing in Grand Rapids? According to the column: engineers, industrial designers, market researchers and data analysts.And because these are now the high paid jobs (not factory work which never again will be high paid) its the kind of jobs that will put Michigan back on the path to prosperity. There really is no alternative!