At a time when everyone is shouting about jobs and manufacturing being outsourced halfway across the world, be ready to talk about the local services you provide with equipment designed and built in the U.S. and Canada.
With all the hype about jobs leaving the United States for China and other far-flung countries with emerging economies, we're really missing out on a big opportunity to toot our own horns here in North America.
It's true that manufacturing jobs, in general, have been migrating out of the United States for many years. Most of the electronics and other throwaway gadgets we use are now produced in Asia and South America.
There have been stories about fed-up Americans wanting to use only domestically produced products being unable to find most of our everyday conveniences from U.S. sources. The same can be said for the Canadians who read this magazine. And it's everything from shoes to television sets to grapefruit ... good luck trying to find a source for most anything without crossing an ocean.
Made right here
But as hopeless as the Buy American (or Canadian) movements might seem, we in the gas, oil and mining support services industry have a far more hopeful story to tell. Most of the contractors who read GOMC use some American or Canadian-built equipment and tools every day in the field. They employ almost exclusively American and Canadian workers and pay them family-sustaining wages with benefits. And the product they produce is a purely domestic natural resource that is often utilized in North America to advance our economies.
And this magazine is another domestic product. The stories are produced by writers in America and Canada. The photos come from photographers and companies we highlight that are also right here in North America. The ads are produced in Wisconsin and the bulk of the advertisers themselves are U.S. and Canadian companies offering products to support service contractors.
When you stop to think about it, our readers and the companies that serve them are shining examples of keeping jobs and manufacturing in the U.S. and Canada. This story flies in the face of all of the bad news you hear, and we should be shouting it from the top of every oil rig in Texas. Here are a few ways we can do it:
Remind your local media of your contribution.
The general public can be a fickle audience. There is a collective pride about a local company that continues to manufacture a viable product or employs local workers in a valued service industry. But as you know, the public sometimes loses sight of the local contributions of a company if it is involved in mining or energy extraction efforts.
There's nothing wrong with reminding people about the good things you do as a support services company. Let's say one of your best customers comes under fire for proposing installation of a natural gas well or expanding a mining operation near your hometown. Wouldn't you like the locals to remember your company benefits from this type of expansion and keeps their friends and neighbors working in well-paying jobs?
Here's a good way to drive home that point: Contact your local newspaper, television or radio station and offer to provide a guest editorial about the positive results of the proposed project. Your voice could offer a valuable alternative perspective to a naysayer's point of view. The average citizen in your town may not link the job creation you are responsible for with the project they may view negatively.
When you speak or write about an issue like this, get specific about the number of jobs your company provides, the economic impact on the community as your workers spend money on food, housing and other necessities, and the good deeds you do as a local company. This could be anything from sponsoring a Little League team to helping out on a Habitat for Humanity project, for example.
Local media outlets might be more responsive than you think to hearing your story. They are likely to welcome an opposing viewpoint in the face of "not in my backyard" criticism over a proposal or project. Don't discount the possibility that you can change peoples' minds about a controversial or not-so-controversial issue.
Preach about the importance of domestic natural resources.
Branding something "American-made" or "Canadian-made" should extend beyond the realm of clothing or consumer electronics, and to the very resources pulled from the ground. Energy and minerals—and maybe more importantly—how we reach them, is a product of North American ingenuity, and we should be singing that song every day and to everyone who will listen.
If it weren't for our geologists and engineers, we wouldn't be doing the amazing things we are with accurate horizontal drilling in North Dakota, for instance. Without our equipment manufacturers and truck builders, we wouldn't be working efficiently and protecting the environment in remote locations. Without our capable workforce, we couldn't pull off the energy revolution that is underway right in our backyards.
What does this technology breakthrough mean? That we can come closer to energy independence. That we won't have to rely on foreign sources for energy, as we have been for decades. Domestic production and mineral extraction means more control over our destiny in this part of the world and good jobs for thousands of workers.
Tell your workers of the vital economic role they play.
Ask your crews to do their part spreading the good word. Remind them that they are at the front lines of a new energy future for North America. Go beyond the words and treat these dedicated and hardworking individuals well so they grow with the industry and set good examples for others. That means paying competitive wages, providing quality benefits, staying on top of safety training and—in general—showing your workers this is a professional service industry they'll want to stick with.
Employees who feel valued are your best asset. They work hard and want to contribute to the team. They'll work safely and refuse to cut corners in the field. They'll dress sharp, show up on time and treat everyone they meet in a professional manner.
Professionalism breeds respect for the important job you perform. That respect is magnified when everyone in your company is informed and on-message when the opportunity arises to talk about this industry that's thriving at home and is not going to be outsourced.