It is difficult to determine the intent behind the message in Dan DiMicco‘s book, American Made: Why Making Things Will Return Us to Greatness (Palgrave, 2015).
The book is a call for a return to an emphasis in manufacturing in America. He believes that putting people to work making things instead of serving things is the way back to prosperity.
It is not that the government did not try. In 2009, a federal stimulus program provided $787 billion, but the book cites evidence that only $60 billion actually went to programs that created jobs.
But is this a book that actually pats himself on the back? He is certainly credible, and his track record is extremely strong. DiMicco led Nucor, a steel company, from 2000 through 2013. His record was impressive. Under his leadership, Nucor tripled its revenue, provided investors more than 700% return on their investment, and increased profits more than 600%. Beyond that, the company also held its own. Nucor has been in the steel business for more than 42 years, and has never laid off an employee, and has always paid a dividend to shareholders.
This is DiMicco’s second book. In 2006, he wrote Steeling America’s Future (Vox Populi). You can still buy that book in paperback through many Internet sources.
I found this biography of DiMicco on Bloomberg.com:
“Mr. Daniel R. DiMicco, also known as Dan, has been Director of Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC since 2007. Mr. DiMicco has been an Independent Director of Duke Energy Corporation or its predecessor companies since October 2007. Mr. DiMicco served as General Manager of Nucor-Yamato Steel Company. Mr. DiMicco served as the Chief Executive Officer of Nucor Corporation from September 2000 to December 31, 2012 and served as its Chairman from May 2006 to December 31, 2012. He served
This is a summary of the book that was published by Amazon.com:
“American manufacturing is on life support–at least, that’s what most people think. The exodus of jobs to China and other foreign markets is irreversible, and anything that is built here requires specialized skills the average worker couldn’t hope to gain. Not so, says Dan DiMicco, chairman and former CEO of Nucor, America’s largest steel company. He not only revived a major US manufacturing firm during a recession, but helped galvanize the flagging domestic steel industry when many of his competitors were in bankruptcy or headed overseas. In American Made, he takes to task the politicians, academics, and political pundits who, he contends, are exacerbating fears and avoiding simple solutions for the sake of nothing more than their own careers, and contrasts them with the postwar leaders who rebuilt Europe and Japan, put a man on the moon, and kept communism at bay. We need leaders of such resolve today, he argues, who can tackle a broken job-creation engine by restoring manufacturing to its central role in the U.S. economy–and cease creating fictitious “service businesses” where jobs evaporate after a year or two, as in a Ponzi scheme. With his trademark bluntness, DiMicco tackles the false promise of green jobs and the hidden costs of outsourcing. Along the way, he shares the lessons he’s learned about good leadership, crisis management, and the true meaning of innovation, and maps the road back to robust economic growth, middle-class prosperity, and American competitiveness.”
Not surprisingly, DiMicco is not a supporter of American companies which could have developed their own technologies and resources, but instead, partnered with Chinese firms in order to gain revenue and profits.
The Amazon.com customer reviews are extremely supportive. As always, we really don’t know where they came from, and how they got there. But, it appears that this book provides a wake-up call for Americans who have forgotten their roots. Indeed, in a review published in the Wall Street Journal, Charles R. Morris, a fellow at the Century Foundation, says: “Few of Mr. DiMicco’s recommendations are original and few people will agree with everything he says. But, the book is a cri de coeur [an impassioned outcry] from one of our best executives from one of our most successful companies. Attention should be paid.” (March 4, 2015, p. A11).
Whether we will present this book at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas simply depends upon how it fares on the major best-selling business book lists. At the time that I write this, the Amazon.com statistics are impressive:
- #4 in Books > Business & Money > Industries > Manufacturing
- #4 in Books > Business & Money > Industries > Industrial Relations
Yet, it does not appear on lists from Business Week, the New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal. Continue to monitor our advertising to see if we eventually present it there. Our policy is not to present synopses of books that are not legitimate business best-sellers. We need to give this one some time. It was only released on March 3, 2015.
In the meantime, remember “big boys like big toys,” and nothing fascinates us more than how things are made. That, of course, depends upon whether we actually are making things, and that is what the book calls America to do.