Seshadri Ramkumar, Texas Tech University, USA
As part of reviving manufacturing, Walmart advocates for developing talent and technology.
Speaking recently to a standing room only audience at the 2017 international conference of the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) in Wilmington, NC, Joe Quinn, Senior Director of Public Affairs at Walmart presented a case for growing talent and new technologies to drive growth in manufacturing and economy.
Talent gap worries companies such as Walmart. Companies are supporting domestic manufacturing, which is having an improved image these days as clean, well paid and cutting edge. As long as it is economical and of good quality, leading companies will go for domestic manufacturing and suppliers. Quinn highlighted an example of how Walmart worked with Statesville-based Homestar, the furniture manufacturer, in delivering high quality office furniture, which is the most preferred item among college students.
Walmart, which started in 1962, is the world’s largest retain store with 5300 retail shops, which constantly adapts to new technologies as evidenced with their grocery pick-up program. Companies are seriously looking into procuring products domestically diverting from China, although there are some challenges to do that. Quinn gave some advice on how to shift business from China such as locating locally made goods, increasing access to finance for small businesses, improving talented labor pool, to name a few.
Quinn’s closing statement that may be music to domestic manufacturers is that “we are in good place with talented young people and new technologies.”
Growing young people with interest in manufacturing and developing new technologies are important to grow diversified economies.