September 14, 2012
Made in America – if it were only that easy!
When I decided to manufacture the ComfortVu motorized TV mount in the United States, I knew there would be challenges that a lot of the multinational TV mount manufacturers do not have to contend with.
With so much production being done offshore these days, one of the goals of my mount design was that the parts, fabrication, and final assembly be done in the USA. It was not only a sensible decision from a quality control perspective, it was a darn patriotic goal to aspire to. You see, I believe it’s of vital importance to support local businesses, labor, and the communities and municipalities that support me.
I knew that the cost would be higher than units produced overseas, but I had no idea that the parts sourced in the USA and my made by hand “boutique style” manufacturing would lead to astronomical production costs – read that as an unrealistically low profit margin for ComfortVu and its dealers.
Another design goal was to make a mount that was fully assembled for ease of mounting, but still within the capabilities of one installer to lift into position. Having been the owner of a custom design and installation business for the last 33 years, I had plenty of experience installing TV mounts and wanted to make a product that would be totally “installer friendly”.
I use T 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum for the structure of the wall mount and TV plates, and steel for the radial arms, motor brackets, and spring carriers.
The aluminum is lightweight but it’s very costly. Although the Simu-Somfy motors I use are also expensive, they have a decades long history of robust, reliable service, a design specification I would not sacrifice under any circumstance. Contributing further to the initial parts cost is the “Swiss Army knife” of control networks I include so the ComfortVu mount can be operated by all the electronic industry remote control platforms. Adding to the initial materials cost is the fabrication of the parts in Los Angeles by American workers paid a living wage, and when we factor in the additional labor costs of the final skilled hand assembly in Pasadena, California, my head spins and the bottom line sags even further.
Because most TV mount manufacturers use inexpensive steel plate for their mount parts, and produce relatively large quantities of mounts in Asia, few, if any, can claim the “Made in America” moniker. ComfortVu can, but I sure hope my commitment to this ideal doesn’t lead to a change in verb tense from IS “made in America” to WAS “made in America.”