Here’s What Executives Are Saying to Shareholders About Jobs

  • ‘We’ve been able to bring manufacturing back to the U.S.’
  • ‘End game is how do you automate and get rid of it, right?’

Since being elected, Donald Trump has used Twitter as a bully pulpit for bringing jobs back to America. Many executives of companies he’s singled out have made public proclamations to do just that, but what they’re telling stockholders gives a more nuanced picture. The following commentary was collected using the DS function.

William Furman, chairman and chief executive officer, Greenbrier Cos.:
“One of the major issues in America will be the labor pool. If we create more jobs in America, where will the labor come from? Because many factories in America today are having trouble filling slots for workers. So I think part of this is just going to have to evolve. But we’re preparing for this. We’re discussing it robustly and if the policy is to bring jobs back to America with our network of factories and shops and land in the United States, we can certainly do that. We don’t really predict at this point it will be necessary.” (Jan. 6)

Wendell Weeks, chairman and CEO, Corning Inc.:
“Our fundamental philosophy is that we make in the countries where our customers are, and this has always been our philosophy. We think it is just good business practice to be close to your customers as well as responsible business practice. The really only exception to that is to the U.S., where we are a strong exporter from this country of product, and we employ more people than we sell here. (Jan. 24)

Karl Stubelis, chief financial officer, Athenahealth Inc.:
“We’ve got this business model that says, ‘Let’s figure out how to do it, let’s push it over to a BPO in India, our business partners over in India, and then let’s figure out how do we actually obliviate it and get rid of the work as well.’ So it’s not an army of people. The end game is how do you automate and get rid of it, right?” (Jan. 11)

James Loree, CEO, Stanley Black & Decker Inc.:
“We already manufacture many products cost effectively in this country and, in some cases, we’ve been able to bring manufacturing back to the U.S. at a lower cost than producing overseas. There are only two major tool companies greater than $1 billion in revenues in the world with an extensive U.S. manufacturing footprint, and we are one of them.” (Jan. 5)

Patrick Sullivan, chairman and CEO, Insulet Corp.:
“It will be extraordinarily highly automated. Each line in the U.S. will be up to 70 percent of our capacity that we have in China with 90 percent fewer head count. So we will not only increase our margins by doing what we’re doing better in our China operation today. But looking out to the 2019 time frame, when we start our manufacturing operation here, we will have redundancy in China.” (Jan. 9)

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