We often harp on domestic manufacturers that would prefer to whine and complain about every conceivably microscopic "competitive barrier" instead of bucking up and looking inside to improve. Companies large and small, in every industry, are competing globally from domestic factories. They prefer to spend their energy improving.
From across the pond comes a heartwarming story on how British manufacturers are doing just that: not complaining.
Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about the long-suffering manufacturing sector in the past year or so has been its silence. Just a few years ago, every rise in interest rates, every increase in the value of sterling, every jump in the oil price, was greeted with howls of indignation and dire warnings about job losses. Today, interest rates are close to 6 per cent, sterling has hit a 26-year high against the dollar, and the oil price is rocketing towards $100 a barrel – yet industry has uttered barely a whimper.
What are they doing instead?
Speak to a 21st-century manufacturer, and you’re more likely to hear about lean processes, green technology and how to break into the Indian market than about the burden of rising interest rates. After a decade of buffeting from the strong pound and cut-price Asian competition, the weakest manufacturers have been eliminated in a long war of attrition. Those left behind are the most adaptable and innovative, and the least exposed to cheap competition.
The article goes on to profile a few of those companies that have adapted. They had the guts to take a hard look at their value-creation processes instead of simply outsourcing or offshoring. They had the guts to focus on competing rather than complaining.