|THE WAR AND FOREIGN TRADE|
VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE ASSOCIATION OF MANUFACTURERS
WE of the United States are nothing if not trade-getters and trade makers. Within our boundaries are forty-eight separate states and commonwealths, with great diversity in tastes, habits and requirements. Within these boundaries has been developed the greatest volume of trade and of production, both agricultural and manufacturing, of any nation in the world, by far the greatest accomplishment being in the single generation just passing.
The small manufacturer is constantly adding another state or territory as his factory grows and trade expands. He "takes on" Texas, New England or Wisconsin. He is thoroughly accustomed to meeting the special requirements of a district new to him as respects goods, credits and trade customs. He is indifferent whether the distance is a hundred miles or two thousand.
I can not accept the often-repeated statement that the American manufacturer lacks adaptability; that his attitude toward any market he cultivates is that of "take it or leave it." Fashion is fickle in the United States; invention is inconsistent and startling. Wherever either have extensive play, or territories vary in their demands, American manufacturers are chameleon-like in their easy and quick adaptability. It is so much a cardinal principle with them always to have "something new" that the trade has almost come to demand "something new" even if not so good as the old. I know many factories into which samples are frequently brought and perfectly duplicated. When the American manufacturer refuses to change his patterns it is because it will not pay to do so from the evidence in hand.
Nor need we talk longer about packing, as if all South America, for instance, would be at our feet if only we would pack our goods acceptably. Only yesterday I heard of an American shipment that slid down a mountain side without damage to package or contents. Packing must be paid for, like any other service, and the American who makes good goods is very thoughtful of his packing. He has only to know what is needed in any foreign market, as some now do, and as all do in the home market.
In short, the American has only to put his mind upon the foreign market with that intensity with which he has developed the home market near and far and in all its aspects, when he will be in the way of making himself at home and his customers happy wherever it will pay so to do. The question is rather where will it pay now and what can be done to make profitable such other trade as we are not now entitled to in those products in which for any reason Europe excels us, and in what manner shall we go about the problem.