By Stephanie Himango and Kevin Tibbles
CANTON -- Mike O'Shaughnessy says it feels good to be part of the resurgence of American assembly and manufacturing.
Even though the television set is commonplace in the American home, good luck finding one that is made in America. You'd have to travel back in time a couple of decades to find production of a fully American-made set, to the days when you could buy an American-made Zenith.
As CEO and founder of Element Electronics, O'Shaughnessy is hoping to change that. This month, the company started assembly of large screen televisions in its Canton, Mich., factory. Although the labor costs are higher here than overseas, O'Shaughnessy says that due to lower tariffs and transportation costs, it makes economic sense to assemble their larger sets here.
They're starting small -- just one assembly line at present -- but interest is big. Target, Wal-Mart, Costco and QVC have already placed orders, and the line is sold out to the end of the year. Appearing under the Element Electronics brand, these 46-inch and 50-inch American-assembled sets will arrive in stores beginning in mid-May.
The components will still be made in China for now, with the hope that in time they too will be made in America. Even so, having the assembly and largely consolidated operation under one roof is something O'Shaughnessy sees as a benefit for all.
"We think the consumer experience will be enhanced by putting everything in one facility," he said. That means the call center, refurbishment, and repair will all be handled in the Michigan location.
The company recognizes it is not alone in the desire to return to American manufacturing.
"There are certainly more people in line behind us on the diving board than there are people in the pool, but we've done our homework, and we're ready to do this."