Coming Soon to an Economy Near You

GE led the list of companies that took a public relations hit in recent months for shipping income to offshore tax shelters and manufacturing to overseas plants.

At the other end of the spectrum is Mannington Mills Inc., a major U.S. flooring manufacturer that would like to go viral with some good noise—about a U.S. firm that is committed to making quality products in the U.S. with U.S. workers.

The corporate short film “Let’s Make Some Noise”—produced for Mannington by Birmingham, Ala. ad agency Scout Branding—touts Mannington’s belief in American-made manufacturing. It was posted on YouTube in March and in one month had received 16, 000 viewings.

“Ours is more than the story of a product made in the U.S.A., ” says company Chairman Keith Campbell, speaking to Business Alabama, not in the script. “America is rediscovering the importance of manufacturing for our economy and for our future. Nowhere is this more important than when it comes to domestic jobs. Jobs build communities, industries and economies. When jobs disappear, so does our ability to stand strong and grow.”

Campbell is the fourth generation of his family to head the company, founded by his great-grandfather in Salem, N.J. in 1915.

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The film begins with landscapes of silent, weedy mills; introduces a variety of workers’ voices, starting with a Southern accent, and picks up momentum with production shots of providently noisy machinery. Mayberry RFD scenes of the main street homes of Mannington’s six U.S. factories are the stars, along with worker spokesmen.

Among the cast are scenes from Epes, Ala., a Sumter County town that is home to a Mannington hardwood flooring plant, which employs about 150 of the company’s total 1, 800 workers nationwide. Other plants are in Georgia, North Carolina, California, Florida and New Jersey.

The Epes plant opened in 1992.

“This is not marketing for them. This is who they are, ” says Paul Crawford, the founder of Scout Branding, who shot and produced the film.

Crawford says the film’s message is “a matter of deep pride” for Mannington, compared to the American-made slogans that swept the 80s, especially car dealerships, which “for a long time, kind of ruined the message, ” Crawford says.

The current recession brings a new seriousness to the issue, Crawford says. “People are very passionate about this issue. It’s getting a lot of good reviews online; people are posting it to their blogs. We know the timing was right.”

By Chris McFadyen

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