By: Mike Lauber - October 1st, 2017

Tusco has proudly produced products for over 70 years. From store fixtures to stadium seats, boat anchors to truck parts, bingo machinery to advertising signs, water dispensers to commercial kitchen equipment, we have always been makers of tangible stuff.
In coordination with the National Association of Manufacturers’ MFGDay Oct 6, we celebrate our heritage with an eye toward the future. Consider these facts:

  1. If US manufacturing was a country, we’d be the 9th largest economy in the world.
  2. We generate 12.1% of our GDP with <4% of the population.
  3. We support 18.5 million US jobs.
  4. We export $1.3 trillion in goods.
  5. The top three states for US manufacturing jobs (in descending order) are: CA, TX and OH. And Ohio has a lot fewer people.
  6. By 2020, US manufacturing expects to rank as the #1 most competitive in the world.

We keep evolving, learning, growing and investing as the needs of our clients change. It’s an exciting time to be an American manufacturing company.

By: Mike Lauber - May 15th, 2017

This space often highlights the state of American retailing. Today, let’s look at American manufacturing’s advantages. At TuscoMFG as well as Tusco Display, we face global competition every day.

We see growing evidence of greater success among manufacturers in the post-Great Recession era and several reasons for that success:

  1. Costs. Low-wage countries like China have seen significant wage inflation. Dramatically lower energy costs in the US have made a big difference, too. In many instances, US manufacturers compete quite well on costs.
  2. Productivity. It’s well-documented that US workers produce more goods per hour than most other countries due in greater investments in automation, IT, transportation infrastructure networks and education.
  3. Inventory. Global supply chains often require greater inventories. That inventory in turn leaves companies at risk of seeing the products become obsolete, esp in the technology and fashion sectors. Carrying costs for space, labor and energy add up, too.
  4. Proximity. The US market is the largest consumer market in the world. Being close to your customers gives you a speed advantage but also greater flexibility in communicating changes, updates, etc.

Though we buy products abroad when necessary and advantageous, we prefer our Made in America advantages and our clients do, too.

By: Mike Lauber - May 1st, 2017

I write and speak often on the rapid evolution of American retail. We have a microcosm of what’s happening nationally at our local New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia OH.

Back in 1988, the mall opened with three anchor stores: Elder-Beerman, Sears and JCPenney. In the intervening 29 years, at least 80% of the original 50+ stores have gone away, including Regal Cinema. Today, Kohl’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and good ol’ Elder-Beerman are the anchors as the mall owners look for new tenants to fill space soon to be vacated by Sears and JCP. Marshall’s and Jo-Ann Fabric are other recent arrivals. And Ulta just announced their store opening.

Earlier than most small malls, NTM welcomed...

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By Mike Lauber - April 1st, 2017

In a March 18 Wall Street Journal article, Jeff Blackledge, an analyst for Cowen & Co, noted that retail space per citizen varies greatly from one country to another. For instance, the US has 48 sq ft for every man, woman and child. The UK devotes about 22 sq ft and Canada about 13 sq ft for each resident.

Does the US have more bricks and mortar stores than it needs? Sure. And square footage is probably on the decline for the first time in 50 years.

With all the doom and gloom of store closures and the growth of Amazon and online, positive news about stores gets overlooked or downplayed. Dollar General keeps growing – they have 13,320 stores, double the number they had 15 years ago. Aldi’s pla...

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By Mike Lauber - March 3, 2017

You know the story, right? Chicken Little gets bopped on the noggin by an acorn and wrongly assumes that the sky is falling. He runs hither and yon telling Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky, Turkey Lurkey and others that the sky is falling. They all buy into the pending tragedy. The hysterical group eventually encounters Foxey Loxey who first tricks and eventually eats the various characters. The moral of the story: Don’t overreact or it may cost you.

We see such henny-pennyism happening among observers of the retail world. “The sky is falling!” has been replaced by “Amazon is coming!” and “Retail is dying!” The latest cry from last week was the announced closure of 140 JCP ...

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By Mike Lauber - February 27, 2017

On Aug 4, 1930, a new concept in grocery shopping opened in Queens, NYC. King Kullen featured low prices and self-service, a concept that rapidly swept the nation.

From the end of WWII to the end of the 20th century, the primary way grocery stores changed was simply by square feet. I remember growing up in the late 1960’s/early 1970’s and saw our local McArdle’s IGA go from perhaps 12,000sf to maybe 40,000sf in three successive buildings over the span of only a decade. That same scenario played out across the nation as Baby Boomers wanted fed and brand marketers grew to meet the demand. Grocers became supermarkets which led to supercenters and warehouse stores in the bigger-is-better r...

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Ask fictional Don Draper of Mad Men fame what it takes to inform consumers and ultimately move them to action and he’d instantly spout the golden formula of advertising: Reach + Frequency.

This marketing truism has been captivating customers since the days of Henry Ford and has carried its weight through every technology advance, product launch and celebrity endorsement over the last 100 years.

Decoding this recipe, Reach refers to accessing the right audience with the right message at the right time. This is how most people think of marketing. But equally important is Frequency. If you saw the classic "Teach the World to Sing" ad from Coca-Cola – featured in the final episode of Mad Men – only once, it might make you s...

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I both love and despise Walmart. Fortune magazine just listed them as the largest American corporation by sales in their annual Fortune 500. I love that they are a great American success story, ruthlessly driving cost and inefficiency out of the retail supply chain, growing into a globe-straddling behemoth with $486 billion in sales in 2014 and clobbering their competitors. I hate them for the same reasons.

Walmart epitomizes American consumerism – for good or ill. They cater to consumer tastes for inexpensive products. We love big and cheap. They have singlehandedly reduced the cost of living for many shoppers by importing massive amounts of goods, especially from Asia, and driving every last dollar out of the margins of companies...

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According to US Census data, there are ~80,000 fewer small retailers today than in 1999. In food retailing, the top 20 firms accounted for about 40% of sales in 1987; today, they command over 60% of the market. The big have gotten bigger. From stationers to indie drugstores, hardware stores to grocers, bookstores to convenience stores, we have seen a growing concentration of retail power among fewer, bigger stores. This consolidation has been driven by the pursuit of lower costs, improved bargaining power with product makers, greater operating efficiencies and global supply access, all funded by capital markets. You may lament the loss of the corner gift shop but we the shoppers have created this concentration of power by rewarding chain...

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The commercial real estate bust of the past decade and the growing volume of online buying have some pundits predicting the failure of malls. The numbers tell another story. Though some malls struggle and others have closed, most are doing rather well. Even little New Towne Mall in New Philadelphia OH finds double-digit sales and traffic growth over 2014, according to their general manager. People are shopping.

The world’s largest mall – Mall of America – hosts over 40 million visitors annually and finds rents growing as demand for retail space remains strong. According to research by JC Decaux, 75% of Americans visit a mall at least once a month. Eighty-one percent of shoppers prefer to shop with others – it&rsqu...

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