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Maker of American pocketknife should produce metal roofing


This Swiss Army type, multi-function pocketknife was made in the USA.


By Mark Rutledge

Saturday, June 23, 2018

After two years of planning, my wife and I finally broke ground last month on a project to build our forever house. The plan was to install a metal roof so that we hopefully won’t need to address that particular maintenance issue again during our lifetimes.

That plan might not be economically feasible — unless Walgreens gets into the roofing business.

Metal roofing is not cheap. If it were, more people would use it on their homes. But the lowest quote I’ve gotten on the product I have in mind for our house project, including installation, amounts to nearly 20 percent of our entire budget.

An economist might call that “cost-prohibitive.” But I’m not an economist, so I’m not giving up yet.

The supplier who gave me that quote cited “tariff talk” — just the talk, mind you — as a contributor to an increase in the cost of material. Again, I have never even played an economist on TV, so I don’t know.

What I do know is that there are companies actually making quality stuff in the United States and selling it at reasonable prices. That’s an oversimplification that does not factor in things such as supply and demand, but it’s one I’m willing to make based on my expertise as a consumer.

Consumption I know.

In the normal course of personal buying habits, I do make an effort to be a patriotic consumer. That mostly means looking for items that are not stamped “made in China.” Those are hard to find these days.

When I went to buy myself a pair of work boots, for instance, the store literally offered one brand that was made in the USA. I tried them on first. Everything but the price was a bad fit. I went with a more comfortable brand made in China, but the price was not lower.

On the other hand, I own a Swiss Army type pocketknife I bought at a Walgreens during a weekend getaway with Sharon. The Walgreens carried some excellent varieties of California wine, but no corkscrews.

The knife, which has a corkscrew, set me back a mere three bucks. I assumed it was made in China and might not last long enough to uncork more than our one bottle.

Wrong. The knife’s stainless steel construction is superior to the actual Swiss Army knife I’ve owned for 25 years and has become nearly impossible to open.

Nowhere on the knockoff knife are any words to indicate where it was made. That bugged me a little because imported items are supposed to be stamped with the country of origin.

I located my 14-function knife on the internet among thousands of promotional products put out by a company named Garrett Specialties. Nearly hidden in small print near the top of the webpage were the words “USA Made.”

Just for kicks, I typed “metal roofing” into the search window and hit “enter.” It brought up a line of fountain pens.

I think I can see the writing on the wall.

Contact Mark Rutledge at mrutledge@reflector.com or like him on Facebook at Mark Rutledge Columns.