Diagnostic Devices, Inc. (DDI), the maker of Prodigy(R) blood glucose monitoring systems, and the leading provider of audible meters, is leading what could be a made-in-America revolution by doing the unthinkable and bringing manufacturing jobs home from China, according to experts in international trade.
"Given the recent economic downturn, there is no shortage of critics of the U.S. economic model - which is based on free markets, innovation and creativity," explained Stan Vinson, banking and financial services professor at Northern State University. "When you see businesses relocating to the United States from perceived low-cost manufacturing countries, it reaffirms our ability to compete globally and the underlying strength of our economic system."
DDI's relocation of up to 200 jobs to Charlotte, N.C. from Southeast Asia comes as national unemployment rates continue to climb towards the 10 percent mark. Rates in Mecklenburg County, where DDI is based, have spiked to 11.5 percent.
"As unemployment has continued to rise, we all have seen the direct effects of someone we know struggling," said Rick Admani Abulhaj, Diagnostic Devices, Inc.'s chief operating officer. "At DDI, we analyzed every angle of our overseas manufacturing and devised a means to bring jobs back to the U.S., while remaining competitive and even cutting costs by a projected 40 percent. The answer to the dilemma is the implementation of cutting-edge automation and robotics technologies that deliver an enhanced bottom-line effect and give us greater control of our operations and our intellectual property."
Michael Richarme, Ph.D., senior vice president of Decision Analyst, Inc., a leading global marketing research and consulting firm, agrees. "Robotics-based manufacturing in a company generally consists of a small number of highly trained and skilled knowledge workers supervising and directing sophisticated computer networks," Richarme said. "The trend of the past few decades of chasing cheap assembly labor around the globe is starting to shift in the direction of more intelligent manufacturing processes like this."
In the late 1980s, Abulhaj and his brother, DDI President Ramzi Abulhaj, moved manufacturing to China, a decision that was seen as risky and unconventional at the time.
During the past several decades, scores of U.S. companies followed suit and moved overseas to reduce manufacturing costs. As DDI now prepares to essentially reverse the original relocation, their bold and unconventional move is again getting attention.
"Quite frankly, we were initially called 'crazy' when we decided to move manufacturing to China," Rick Admani Abulhaj said. "The move proved to be highly successful and we're proud to have been a forerunner in that trend. We're raising eyebrows once again with this unconventional move back and we stand confident that other companies will again follow our lead in a trend that will strengthen bottom lines and our domestic economy."
The Abulhaj brothers have 18 years of manufacturing experience in China. The move to relocate these jobs represents a fundamental shift in the way DDI has decided to approach the future. During the next 18 months, DDI will complete the transition, bringing almost 200 jobs to the Charlotte, N.C. area and creating a manufacturing-and-distribution facility that utilizes the latest manufacturing technologies.