US: Manufacturing at home

With investments in equipment, US manufacturers are newly competitive
Quality problems forced Tanis to abandon production in China. TIM EVANS

Scott Tanis took the plunge and outsourced some of his manufacturing to Asia--and lived to regret it. Six years ago Tanis, owner of 55-person Tanis Inc., a Delafield (Wis.) maker of industrial brushes, decided he couldn't pass up the money he'd save shifting some work to China. Using a broker, he found a plant there to make his labor-intensive twisted-bristle brushes. But within two years, customers of the $9 million company began complaining about quality. Between the language barrier and the time difference, Tanis had trouble fixing things. "Once the problems surfaced it became a big drain on my time," Tanis says. "It was a mistake."

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