How an explosively growing CDMO with an innovative leadership team is looking to pioneer and grow the supply chain for US-based American drug manufacturing
Opinion: Wayne Woodard, CEO Argonaut Manufacturing Services
In the past several years, we have heard that manufacturing jobs in America are gone for good. However, I believe that most people would agree this does not have to be a foregone conclusion. In fact, American manufacturing has found itself in the middle of a full-scale renaissance. We have the technology, an awakening to the real importance to risk management within our supply chains, and the American spirit to thank for this.
Fortunately, there is a second chance for American manufacturing
I often ask myself several questions. “What if we never saw all this manufacturing capability leak out of our economy in the first place?” “What if we would have invested more intensely in the technology of automation a decade ago?” And, “what if we would have recognized the vulnerability to an entire nation when supply chain disconnects forced our nation to hoard things like toilet paper and hand sanitizer?”
Fortunately, there is a second chance for American manufacturing. We often hear the phrase “What is the next big thing?” In my view, it is the exploding need for innovative diagnostic testing and pharmaceutical drug discovery and manufacturing. I see this every day in my space – contract manufacturing for biopharmaceuticals and human diagnostics industries. It’s truly amazing what innovators are doing in the labs. However, it’s not just enough to invent. We must leverage this into manufacturing excellence. Here is a manufacturing industry we should never let slip away from our shores. We are early enough in this cycle of innovation in these markets to leverage investments, technical training, and intellectual property horsepower to be sure these manufacturing capabilities become true core competencies of our country.
There are some who may disagree with me. Their arguments usually center around the cost and bureaucracy points that stand in the way of this industry. Let’s take a deeper look at their arguments.
“It’s too expensive to manufacture in the United States”
If you look in the rear-view mirror, on the surface this is a legitimate argument, especially for technology-oriented industries. For example, in the computer/smartphone industry 15 years ago when they began mass production, there wasn’t the current level of manufacturing automation available, so they moved to lower labor markets to deliver largely manually assembled products. Countries that attracted these companies to their shores were smart and understood the value of the investments needed to maintain a manufacturing sector in their economies. They never intended to always manufacture with manual labor as their primary advantage. They understood manual labor alone would not remain competitive and that technology was advancing fast enough that continued investment would maintain their competitive lead. If you walk into one of these factories today, you would see a completely different scene than 20 years ago. These are truly the factories of the future built largely on U.S. capital invested outside the United States to produce competitive products in a global market using local resources. Resources that have been trained by their universities and trade schools to match the needs of future manufacturing requirements. They are reaping the benefits of years of investments in what, at the time, was advanced manufacturing automation, and expanding this into new technology arenas.
This leaves us with a choice to make, here in the United States: Do we invest today for what the future can hold with such technologies like A/I and other advancements OR are we destined to repeat history and allow this “Next Big Thing” to slip through our manufacturing fingers?
“Manufacturing in the United States is just too hard! There are people in government stopping me at every door.”
As an entrepreneur who started his own contract manufacturing operation in Carlsbad, California – Argonaut Manufacturing Services – and who built two manufacturing operations for companies in Singapore as well as spent the majority of his career working with Asian manufacturers, I’m telling you, that is nonsense. Is it hard work? YES! Does it take time to explain to people what you are doing and how adding your capability will have a positive impact for everyone in the community? YES! Is it worth the effort? Of course it is, if you value the manufacturing sector in the United States and believe in the investment model that was proven by our manufacturing competitors overseas in the past two decades.
“What can I do?”
Do not sit on the sidelines when elections come along. Get out and vote. You have to know where the candidates stand on supporting a robust manufacturing sector of the local and state economy. Ask them if they are prepared to invest, make accommodations, and support companies building for our future competitiveness. Your vote is your voice on these issues. Have no regrets and realize improving the health and welfare of lives through better testing and therapeutics may well be where our next generation of “Next Big Things” emerges. Embracing your community leaders’ effort to attract manufacturing companies and skilled jobs makes so much sense in today’s hypercompetitive world.
Embracing your community leaders’ effort to attract manufacturing companies and skilled jobs makes so much sense in today’s hypercompetitive world.
In the community of manufacturing leaders, there is a saying that sums it all up: “It is a mere matter of execution.” That is to say, it isn’t easy. However, the details matter and the rewards are colossal.
For more information about Argonaut Manufacturing Services, go to www.argonautms.com
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