Thursday, January 26, 2012

Made in China? This I don't get!

For the past few weeks I have been lifting again for lots of reasons one of them being to give me something to do as I am running less. Regardless, I am not lifting in an effort to bulk up again or anything like that. No, I like my somewhat faster (okay, faster for me at least) trimmed out weight.

Speaking of weights though... The other night I was staring at the plates on my bench press bar and I noticed for once, a sticker that says "Made in China."

Now I have seen this sticker before I know but it never affected me like it did the other night. More than likely all of my plates, standard and Olympic size were made in China. WTF? Now that just does make sense to me.

For starters these are not a hi-tech item. No, far from it. But giving it some thought the whole process seems ridiculous. Let me explain.

One would assume that for these plates to be even near cost effective they would have to be able to be sold in the US for more than the cost of making them, right? Okay, here we go... The materials, ore, etc, more than likely was mined in China. That was trucked to a plant more than likely where it was put into a smelter and became iron blanks, I am guessing. Then those blanks were probably shipped to another plant where the actual weight disks were forged to their specific sizes and weights.

I am going to over simplify this step but from that plant then the plates were transferred to a ship and brought to the united states. Tons and tons of just dead weight! The ship docks on the west coast presumably then the weights are unloaded, shipped via train or truck or both to Colorado Springs some how to a store where I buy them and drive them home in my car. For decent plates I think if you shop wisely you can get them for a bout a buck a pound, so a 50 pound plate or one 50 pound dumbbell will cost you around a $50, pretty much. So in order for a store to make a profit, their wholesale cost would be way less, right? Right?

So then how can it even be COST effective? That is what confuses me to no end. Not to mention don't we have the materials and plants and methods of shipping in the U.S. do do this more cheaply?

And it is not even about the costs of the weights that I am really griping about here but the overall waste of resources to manufacture them and get them here. This is but one silly example but maybe something to look at when you wonder where things come from and how they get here.


  1. The cost is ALWAYS in the labor, regardless of the industry - any manager is aware of this.

    Despite the costs of shipping, raw materials, general overhead, etc., with the volume China can move, these items would all be negligible in cost difference when compared to the U.S.

    Where they beat us is labor. They can sell it with markup, for what it costs us to manufacture, because the damn unions mandate what we pay our U.S. employees. That's great for the employee, but bad for the U.S. economy.

    Long story short: I'm not a fan of Unions. Period. I work in the construction industry for a company with Union AND Non-Union employees, so I have had plenty of time to analize the machine, and I am not a fan... it hurts our competitiveness, even on a local level.

    Now that you are talking manufacturing on a global scale, imagine how the difference in cost grows exponentially with volume. The U.S. can't compete.

  2. Brooks,

    I know that volume is the answer but it still completely floors me.

  3. yea man. Unions suck balls! Also, it's cost effective because of our currency inflation. Read for edification.

  4. Two words: container ships.

    OK, a two more: stupid laws. The price of privileges like excessive union power, minimum wage and other mandates is that the business goes away. There's no free lunch; it has to come out of somewhere.

    FYI I don't buy certain things from China, and not because of nationalism, but just because the quality is not always good. For example no food products, no tools (had too many break). Seems like they're the same place Japan was after WWII, before they increased their quality.