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Buy American. Made in the USA. Built in America. As a consumer, it’s likely that you’ve seen or heard these phrases before. But what do they really mean—and why should they matter to you?

To answer those questions, let’s ask a couple of slightly different questions: Why is anything made in the United States? Why would any manufacturing company pay American wages when it could shift the work overseas, spend less, and make more?

Because they have values.

On the heels of Independence Day, it would be easy to say that those values are grounded in nationalism. It would be easy to say that they place a premium on hiring Americans, paying Americans, and putting the American Dream within reach for those who pledge allegiance to Old Glory.


But as Elizabeth Segran writes in this article for Fast Company, the resurgence in manufacturing on American soil is less about nationalism or patriotism than it is about innovation. It’s driven by a search for better ways to make products and get them to customers faster than overseas competitors.

In other words, American manufacturing is being reinvigorated by good old American ingenuity. And that’s a beautiful thing.

New ways of creating value.

When it comes to today’s brand of American manufacturing, generating value is becoming more and more decentralized. It’s no longer dominated by massive conglomerates churning out generic products to maximize shareholder value.

Instead, those massive conglomerates are starting to give way to fast-paced, tech-savvy, nimble startups like us and thousands of others across the country. And not only are we each finding new and innovative ways to create high-quality, state-of-the-art products, we’re doing it by finding the sweet spot in combining skilled labor and complex machinery.


As this shift continues to accelerate, what it means to generate value is moving away from the mindlessly mass-produced and toward products built with intention and purpose. It’s moving toward the kind of craftsmanship you find only in small batches of things precisely made by human hands. It’s moving toward a way of doing business with heart and one that’s focused on finding ways to help people.

Bringing it home.

Now, these are big ideas. What do they mean for Bak USA? Let’s begin with a quick look at our workforce.

As of this writing, Bak USA employs 86 pretty awesome and passionate people from at least 14 different nationalities. We speak 27 different languages and come from a huge variety of backgrounds. (Shameless plug: We’re actively searching for more!)


Now, I’m no bean counter. But I’m pretty darn sure we could save a serious chunk of change by shifting our manufacturing overseas and paying workers pennies on the dollar.

Everybody else does it, right?

But it’s not gonna happen. (Matter of fact, I’d be more likely to sprout wings and take flight.) Bak USA is committed to building our products in America and we believe in paying our employees a fair, living wage because we value them as people.

We believe people should be treated in a way that makes them grow and have a better life.

If you know anything about Bak USA, you know that it’s our mission to build computers, empower people, and change lives—in our community, our country, and around the world. People are at the heart of everything we do. (We’ve written before about our beliefs and how we use them as guiding principles. Check it out here.)

When it comes to our employees, we want to do right by them and enable them to have a better life. Part of making that happen is giving people jobs that create a sense of dignity, pride, and purpose. And part of doing that is building products with meaning—right here on American soil.

To put it another way, we make it in America so our employees can make it in America.

The revolution is driven by people.

If people are at the heart of everything we do, it should come as no surprise that our employees are at the heart of the manufacturing revolution we’re leading. And when it comes to manufacturing, we believe products should be made by people.


We make computers and tablets—but not with an assembly line full of robots assisted by faceless drones. We do it with a team of real humans who know each other’s names and hang out together. Our builders are assisted by a cobot named Bakito, who’s pretty good with a screwdriver and doesn’t mind doing the dull stuff.


At every step in the process, each person is treated as a craftsman. We’re not mindlessly mass producing widgets. We’re crafting powerful computers with precision, intention, purpose, and a whole lot of love. Each one is painstakingly designed and built to create possibilities for those who use them.

Hey, that reminds me. Want to learn more about how we get our computers from our factory floor to your hands—and meet a few of the amazing humans who make it happen? Right this way.

Making it in America.

Now, here’s the best part about all this: We’re not alone. There are companies all over the country—and right here in Buffalo—making it in America. Here are a quick handful:

  • Dresser-Rand, manufacturing and testing centrifugal compressor products and gas turbines used in oil and gas production, oil and gas transmission, and refining from its plant in Olean, New York;
  • Reformation, the first fully sustainable sewing factory in the United States, located just outside of Los Angeles, California;
  • SolarCity, expected to begin manufacturing solar panels later this summer at its new plant in Buffalo, New York;
  • Cutco, making cutlery, kitchen knives, and accessories from its plant in Olean, New York;
  • Mizzen+Main, incorporating performance fabrics into clothing from their perch in Dallas, Texas;
  • Cummins, making the company’s X15 series engine for heavy-duty trucks at its Jamestown Engine Plant in Jamestown, New York; and
  • Winkbeds, working in New York City to develop mattresses that allow couples to adjust the temperature on their side of the bed.

I could go on. As I was making that list, one thing stood out to me: The role you (yes, you) play in creating these success stories.

As a consumer, you’ve got the power to level the playing field. You can choose to purchase products made in America, made with purpose, and made by companies trying to do right by people. Every time you purchase something or use something made right here in the US of A, you’re taking part in the revolution.

You’re helping create more American success stories.

Proving them wrong.

They said it couldn’t be done. They said we were crazy. They said… blah, blah, blah. While they were busy telling us what we couldn’t do, we were out there doing it. While they were busy babbling, we were busy building computers right here in urban America. And we did it by using our values as a foundation and taking a fresh, innovative approach to manufacturing.

We are Bak USA. Together with thousands of companies across the country, we’re breathing life into an industry desperate for fresh air. We’re changing the face—and faces—of American manufacturing. We’re reinventing what it means to make it in America.

And we’re doing it with liberty and justice for all.

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Kristen Johnson