Any company’s success is in its ability to win against its competitors. It becomes more and more of a challenge as the global economy becomes more of a factor. Alternative methods being developed by very competitive domestic and foreign suppliers in the auto industry, for example, challenge the traditional ways. Third World countries will be very difficult competitors for a long time to come. Do you remember those 50,000 indentured servants in England who made nails in the traditional way prior to an early Yankee? The thirteen American states were the equivalent of a Third World country of today. The free global market makes the rules, as it should, and will drive progress for a long time to come, whether we like it or not.

In any competitive exercise, the buyer or the decision-makers normally have several choices. There is one winner and all the rest are losers.

We all enjoy the fruits of competition in continually improving high dynamic value products and services that we need and buy every day. From a selection, we buy those of superior value from company’s and their employee’s efforts to find the better ways to win our business time after time. From airline equipment and services to breakfast cereal, whether it’s an American product or one from another country, we will and should buy the best for the least every time (the best value). It drives the perpetual improvement process.

The “buy American” slogan and sentiment is ill-advised, and actually hurts job security as well as product value. If we continue to buy products that are not the best value, what incentive do those companies have to get better? In buying out of some sense of loyalty rather than for value, we subsidize inefficiency, give incentive to produce substandard goods and services and encourage rather than treat the illness. It becomes a handicap to those companies and is a serious disservice to them. Eventually, it will come crashing down on them as the real competitors will continue to get better and better and the buyers will switch one by one.

Imagine what a 2003 model American car would be like if foreign companies had not been allowed into the U.S. market. Consider their quality, driver and passenger conveniences, technology, and styling. Would we still have poor body fits, rust after the first year, and breakdowns? What would we have to pay for those 2003 models without the aggressive foreign competitors? The foreign companies weren’t responsible for those advances. It was us, the discriminating, value- oriented buyers. Their early models had problems not unlike the domestic brands, but their determination to succeed in this market dictated a strategy of continuous improvement forcing response from local competition.

If all the countries of the world had a “Buy locally policy,” the great American companies like Caterpillar, Coca Cola, McDonalds, Microsoft, Boeing, and countless others would not exist as we know them. Some of those companies sell more outside the U.S. than inside. They compete head-to-head with excellent foreign companies on their own turf and are better companies because of it, benefiting all. In addition, the competition, including foreign competition, that drives new product development and value to the consumer would be seriously damaged. The American automobile quality and value upward spiral in recent years is due to competition providing better value, and is just one obvious example. Buying the best value every time should be the top reason for the selection. That choice actually helps all companies equally who are paying attention and responding to the market messages.

Buyers of special machine tools also benefit by virtue of the competitive bid process and realize the best solution for their manufacturing process from competing expert companies around the world. Every order that is bid for is very important and the competitive pressures intense. There is only one winner each time. Any nationalistic influence, as in consumer product purchases, can only dilute the value to the buyer. As purchases are made on the basis of best value, a strong message is being sent to those companies that did not get the business. The message is that the product value was not competitive. The natural conclusion is that a better way must be found so that next time the competitive position will be favorable.