East Bay company bringing jobs back to US

February 16, 2012 7:24:40 PM PST
President Obama and the Commerce Department are urging American companies to bring their outsourced jobs back to the United States and one company in the East Bay has.

Companies such as one injection molding plastic plant in Union City have had a tough time with manufacturing going to China. "A year ago, we did have idle machines. We did lay off a few people," Jatco Sales Vice President Eric Appelblom told ABC7. But the outlook is starting to change. Jatco added 12 employees because a small start-up in Hayward decided to shift its manufacturing from China to the U.S. "Just a lot of our international customers, which has been kind of the bulk of our initial success with CaliBowl, were saying that they wanted the U.S.A. brand," said CaliBowl co-founder and sales director Jeff Bollengier.

CaliBowl is a unique product that prevents accidents. A small lip inside the rim eliminates spills. Its design also makes it easier to scoop up M&Ms or nuts. The bowls and the packaging now proclaim "Made in the U.S.A."

CaliBowl first outsourced to China because that is what everyone else did, but they had to order large quantities far beyond their early sales. By manufacturing in the Bay Area, their costs have gone up 5 to 10 percent, but there are other benefits. "The quality of the product now is much, much better than it was out of China. So, we're using better materials, better construction, everything is much better than what we witnessed out of China," CaliBowl co-founder Richard Stump said.

To offset higher costs, CaliBowl has found ways to trim the cost of packaging. Jatco, the manufacturer, has also found ways to boost productivity and lower costs. "If this was manufactured over in Asia right now, there would probably be four or five people staffing these machines. As a company, we have to be efficient, so we try to have one or two doing that same job," Appelbom explained.

Jatco is about to hire eight more workers to make CaliBowls. The U.S. Commerce Department is going to honor CaliBowl for bringing jobs back to America.

There is a multiplier effect when jobs are created. Besides the 12 at Jatco, you also create jobs for the company that makes the American resin, who do the printing, the packaging and the trucking.

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