Rock Center | November 08, 2012
>>> now over it is once again safe to talk about the economy and jobs now that it is not a campaign issue it's back to being a reality. you have heard it a million times. we used to make things in america . manufacturing was the backbone of our country. and now it isn't. at least that's the rampant belief. tonight harry smith has some evidence to the contrary.
>> reporter: the idea that american manufacturing is dead is a myth. or more accurately an outright falsehood.
>> i think there is a team of great opportunity in manufacturing, there is a renaissance going on.
>> reporter: mary is the ceo of the vermier corporation in iowa, a company that build a mind-boggling array of machinery sold in 70 countries around the globe. mining, farming, construction, landscaping. since her father put a simple hoist on a corn wagon, 70 years ago, vermeer has been trying to find a better way to do all kind of things. people travel through the country and they see old industrial plants and they think to themselves well america 's industrial heyday is over. to which you would say what?
>> i would say, let's look at the facts. and the facts are that the united states produces 21% of the world's manufacturing goods. we're number one. followed by china, 15, japan at 12th%.
>> you heard that right. we are still number one. she should know, because she is also the chair of the national association of manufacturers . almost everything we are building is sold.
>> reporter: while the pace of production across the country has slowed in the last few months manufacturing in america over the last decade has grown, a lot.
>> what's really outstanding is the fact that in 2010 , the u.s. had an output of $4.8 trillion of manufactured goods . that was up from $4.1 trillion in 2000 . we have been through two recessions in the last decade.
>> reporter: recessions that forced come pans to innovate or face extinctions. 5 million manufacturing jobs were lost in the u.s. in the last decade. but new jobs have been created too. and believe it or not, many manufacturers in the u.s. are looking for help.
>> you have to have the desire to work and show up every day. and then it's really basic skills . basic math . basing communication skills . we really love it when people come with sort of critical thinking skills or the ability to learn those skills.
>> reporter: most of the idea for vermeer's machines are home grown . recently they entered into an agreement with the dutch company to become the u.s. manufacturer of this, a fully automated cow milking machine.
>> it was amazing. it blew my mind. i watched it for four hours to make sure it worked. that's my kind of milking. farmer ed putz is liberated from having to be in the barn twice a day every day for milking. get a load of this. laser beams scan the cow's udder and the beam tells the machine exactly where it need to go. the cows like it so much they lean up on their own when it is team to be milked. ed's barn is a study in bovine bliss. all of this productivity doesn't come without consequences. case in point, sunny d , in an effort to squeeze every ounce of efficiency out of its juice factory in sherman, texas, the sunny delight company is spending tens of millions of dollars to bring 21st century technology to the factory floor. so maybe 30 years ago this was a line filled with people.
>> or what you had is several smaller pieces of equipment that did individual parts of this process didn't do it as fast didn't do it as well as they do today.
>> reporter: billy sears is the ceo.
>> we can have a lot fewer people producing higher quality product at lower cost. that's what it takes for us to be successful.
>> reporter: sunny d had a choice, move to mexico or modernize and trim payroll. tom bragg worked at the sunny d plant for 25 years. and with a new automation installed tom and several others have been told, their positions will be eliminated.
>> everybody processes it differently, harry. some folks are very angry, and some like myself, are going to make the best out of this situation.
>> reporter: new jobs in manufacturing require more than an able body and a willingness to work.
>> i don't feel like a victim here. folks need to know wherever they work, they need to consistently and constantly upgrade their skills. what got you here and your prior accomplishments may not necessarily keep you here.
>> reporter: a company's survival doesn't leave much room for sentiment. billy sear. it seems darwinian to me?
>> i don't know if it is darwinian. unfortunately darwin's theories make the world go around. and some times it is scary to think about it that way. it is survival of the fittest . it always is.
>> reporter: a cruel truth for employer and employee alike. adapt or else.
>>> our thanks to harry smith who we also note was made in america . when we