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Moto X – Smartphone Assembled in America

25 Sep

Moto X

Here is a quick but interesting article about Google’s newest phone, the Moto X.  Google/Motorola decided to perform final assembly of the smartphone in the US, so they transformed an old Nokia building in Texas into a state of the art manufacturing facility.

Most components for the phone are still made overseas, but it all gets put together by the 2500 employees in Texas.  Check out the article here.  There are some very nice pictures.

 

Vermont Castings Gas Grills Review

5 Sep

Vermont Castings

Product Description:

Vermont Castings has a 35 year history, and a lot has happened to the company over these 35 years.  Even though the company has undergone many changes, Vermont Castings gas grills are still ranked very highly by Consumer Reports; two models scored 80 out of 100 points, earning Vermont Castings the 3 and 4th spots, right behind Weber’s Spirit Series grills.

Vermont Castings started off making high quality wood and coal burning grills.  Their first products were well received by consumers and were considered top quality.  However, after going through a few bankruptcies and mergers, product reviews reveal that quality has been suffering recently.

As expected with a name like Vermont Castings, the company has two facilities in Vermont – a foundry in Randolph, VT and a large assembly plant in Bethel, VT.  There about 200 employees between these two facilities.  In addition to their Vermont operations, they have manufacturing in Paris, KY, and Mexicali, Mexico with distribution centers in Canada.

It’s lengthy and complicated, but we tried to figure out Vermont Castings’s history.  After their founding in 1974, things went well until the company declared bankruptcy and was taken over by CFM Corp, a company from Ontario, Canada owned by Teachers Private Capital, which is the equity arm of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension system.  Then, CFM declared bankruptcy in 2008 and was bought by the private equity firm Riverside Co. for $42.5 million.  Riverside merged Vermont Castings with Monessen Hearth Systems., a manufacturer of heating products like stoves and fireplaces that they already owned.

As of August 2013, Monesson’s management team was expected to purchase Monessen and Vermont Castings from Riverside.  Hopefully, this is the end of all the turnover Vermont Castings has recently experienced.

American Alternative Review:

monessen logo

Vermont Casting began their business by making air-tight stoves.  Currently, their core competency seems to be in wood and charcoal grills, but in an effort to expand business, they also make infrared and gas grills.  Despite not being core products, their 300 and 323 series grills are highly ranked by Consumer Reports.

Finding a way to contact Vermont Castings was difficult, but once we got a hold of them, their customer service representative was supremely helpful.  Most of the grill is made from US-sourced materials.  Exceptions to this include valves that are from Spain and electronics/wiring from China.  Aside from these components, almost all the metal in Vermont Casting grills are from US-sources.  The stainless steel is from US suppliers.  The cast iron is from recycled brake drums and engine blocks sourced from US-based recyclers. This surprised us since most other grill manufacturers get their cast iron grates from overseas.

All the metal parts are formed in the US, and pack out and assembly happens domestically as well.  The company is based in Kentucky and was recently bought by a US-based management team.  With all this, Vermont Casting has earned a respectable score from us.

4.5/5 stars

Vermont Castings grills got good marks from us, but be forewarned that they are not cheap.  Many models cost more than $1,000.  You can check out some of their older models here and here.

Weekend Video: American Made Movie Trailer

2 Sep

In honor of Labor Day, we thought it would be nice to focus on the larger US economy, rather than just one company or one product.  Luckily for us, a movie has come out that does just that.  Just released this weekend, “American Made Movie” looks at the state of manufacturing in America and where it is heading.

I haven’t seen it yet, but I definitely want to after watching the trailer!

Weekend Video: Tesla Model S Manufacturing

25 Aug

We’ve featured some teaser videos of Tesla’s California manufacturing facility before.  The company now has their plant fully up and running, and it’s pumping out thousands Model S’s every month.  This video is a great inside look at how this car goes from raw material to a drivable automobile in just a few days.

Those robots are amazing.

If anybody has been able to check out Tesla’s manufacturing plant first hand, let us know how it was and what you thought of it!

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