We opened our first Shinola factory in Detroit five years ago — when the city was still reeling from the economic downturn. The once-booming powerhouse of American manufacturing, now with vacant storefronts and factories.
But amid the scary headlines, there were people who were rolling up their sleeves to do the work of rebuilding their city. One of those people was Willie Holley.
Willie was born and raised on the east side of Detroit and had always been interested in electronics and engineering. When Willie was working as a security guard in the College for Creative Studies where our factory and HQ is now located, he became curious about the new company moving into the 5th floor. He asked for a chance to apply and was hired as one of Shinola’s first 12 assemblers for our new factory. Today, Willie oversees a team of 20 as a line assembly supervisor.
Manufacturing in the Motor City might look different than what it was for most of the last century, but at its heart, it’s the same as ever. It’s about a pride for things that are made in America and built to last. And it’s about a job that gives you dignity to wake up every day. One that pays good wages, where you can start at the bottom and work your way up.
And the trend in manufacturing isn’t happening just in Detroit -– it’s happening all over the country. Since 2010, American businesses have added more than 800,000 manufacturing jobs. Today, factories are opening doors more quickly than at any time in the past 20 years.
When President Obama stabilized the economy after the recession, he laid the groundwork for cities like Detroit to rebuild. And by catalyzing innovation and promoting investment in 21st-century manufacturing, he has created an environment for companies like ours to thrive.
So on National Manufacturing Day, I’m incredibly proud to celebrate the strength of American manufacturing. I feel humbled to be part of this moment in America’s history — and I can’t wait to see what’s next for the Motor City.
President of Shinola