January 8, 2013
Howard Schultz is not just serving you an expensive cup of coffee...
East Liverpool, Ohio is a small town wedged along the Ohio River near the eastern boarder of the state. You may not expect to hear the people of this small town singing the praises of Starbucks Chairman and CEO, Howard Schultz, but that is exactly what happened.
In 2012, Schultz did something that has become uncustomary in the USA by large corporations...he decided to make something in the USA. He sought out the small American based pottery company owned by Clyde McClellan and made him an offer that put a huge boost into his struggling business. The company is called American Mug and over the course of many years, the locals proudly referred to themselves as "the Pottery Capital of the Nation." Although, prior to the arrival of the white knights from Starbucks, McClellan was forced to decrease his staff due to more and more competition overseas. You see, Clyde does it the old fashioned way. There are no fancy assembly lines, no sophisticated machines. Each piece is made by hand and then fired in a 30-year-old kiln. It is a throw back to a time that we only hear about from our parents and grandparents. A time that seems so foreign to us today in our fast paced lives. Basically, it is the concept of creating something with pride so it can later be sold and used by someone who will appreciate the workmanship that went into every intricate detail.
But alas, we have become a nation that regularly purchases our goods from China because our nation's companies seem to think we will not pay a little extra to offset the additional costs that go into a "Made In America" stamp. I don't know about you, but I would gladly spend a little more to know that people like Clyde McClellan and those in his employ can put head to pillow each night confident that they will have a job tomorrow.
You know, after the Great Depression (not the recent one...the one from a really long time ago), President Roosevelt created a program called the WPA (Work Progress Administration). It was funded by Congress (imagine that) and the main goal was to create jobs for the unemployed. My grandfather was employed by the WPA at a time when he and my grandmother struggled to feed seven children. The whole premise was to simultaneously put people to work, but also expand our country's infrastructure. The program also gave back to the country the privilege of making an honest wage for a day of work, trusting that the financial stability of the country would eventually return. And it did.
While I do not see our Congress able to agree on anything these days, I would love to see the leaders in the private sector of this country follow in the footsteps of Howard Schultz and revisit the issue of bringing American jobs home. In addition to reinvigorating a small town in Ohio, Starbucks donated a portion of each sale to its Create Jobs for USA Fund, which has raised approximately $12 million. The fund has aided in the development of jobs in American towns that have found themselves struggling in difficult times. Starbucks estimates the creation of 4000 jobs as a direct result of the fund.
I contacted Starbucks and they indicated that they have continued their partnership with American Mug. So, Howard Schultz...you are being added to my Awesome Philanthropic Company Award! (There is no real award given. It's basically my blogging mom seal of approval.)
I linked below a touching video of the coming together of the coffee giant and some of the residents of East Liverpool, Ohio.
Oh~by the way, the initial 20,000 mug order sold out immediately.