Bruce Zinky operates a “cantankerously independent” manufacturing company in Flagstaff. He describes Zinky Electronics LLC as a “strange anomaly,” as compared to other Northern Arizona businesses.
“Manufacturing and assembly are an anomaly in an area that has noted ‘tourism’ as the leading industry in recent years. Not putting the knock on tourism, but diversifying the economic mix is necessary to long-term growth and health.
“Manufacturing is a great way to ensure that dollars flow into an area. In fact, manufacturing has been critical to Flagstaff’s economic health for decades. For biggies, we’ve got WL Gore, SCA Tissue and Nestle Purina manufacturing in Flagstaff,” said Zinky, who heads up the firm along with wife, Annette.
“We’re not so much an anomaly as much as small business manufacturers are a minority,” Zinky explained. “You’ve got us, custom bicycle makers — Coconino Cycles, Sendaro Cycles, Wright Cycles — [medical device maker] Machine Solutions, and a few others that are actually building things in town.
“Like Machine Solutions, the overwhelming majority of our products ship out of state or out of the country. We export more than we import. Getting the trade deficit under control is very important to long-term economic stability. We are doing our part.”
Zinky Electronics LLC designs and manufactures high quality electric guitar amplifiers, tube amps, speaker enclosures, and signal processors. Their Website proudly proclaims that all products are “made in the USA by very skilled and happy people.”
Last year, the Flagstaff company was approached by the hard rock band AC/DC to manufacture 51,000 guitar amplifiers. Now, Zinky amps are included in the AC/DC Backtracks Collector’s Edition Box Sets released last November. The exterior box is designed to resemble a vintage AC/DC guitar amp. The “head” of the amp lifts to reveal the contents while holding the Zinky working guitar amplifier.
Each amp was manufactured in Flagstaff. Zinky could move his manufacturing facilities to China, but chooses not to. “China has cheap labor. They exploit natural resources and their people to be able to obtain raw materials cheaply and make things cheaper. But the products, while similar, are not the same,” said the entrepreneur.
For instance, Zinky shopped at Home Depot recently to buy nylon zip ties for business use. He was frustrated to find that only ties made in China were stocked.
“A tie made in China is not made from the same quality material as one from the U.S. The Chinese part will fatigue and fail much faster,” explained Zinky.
“So I went online and found 1,000 [made in the USA] ties for ten bucks. That was less money and higher quality [than those at Flagstaff’s Home Depot]. There’s no reason that all they offer has to be made in China.”
The Real Cost of Manufacturing in China
Zinky points out that similarly, the grades of steel manufactured in China are not the same grades as steel made in Korea, Sweden, or Germany. “So, you’re getting 80-90 percent of the quality at a lower cost, which is fine, if you can accept 80 percent of what you had before. Otherwise, you’ve just paid more, because it will soon fail, and you have to buy it twice. To make a product EXACTLY the same as it would be made elsewhere means you have to import parts and materials from abroad, but China has huge tariffs against this practice.
“China is a major polluter of land, sea, and air. This pollution crosses national borders. The cost to clean up this pollution in the U.S. is borne by the U.S. taxpayer, so again, this cost of Chinese products is not reflected in the price of the goods, but still is borne by every U.S. taxpayer. The fair solution is to tax Chinese products to pay for these [clean up] costs directly.
“We manufacture our products in the U.S., because the jobs we create help people locally. Also, because, all things taken into consideration, it is better in terms of long-term stability, short-term lead time, cash flow, and quality to manufacture here.
“U.S. consumers can make a difference by buying Made in USA products. If a local retailer doesn’t sell the American-made products, the consumer should shop elsewhere, or online. The job you save may be your own,” said Zinky. FBN
Zinky Electronics LLC P.O. Box 3973, Flagstaff, AZ 86003 www.zinky.com
Directory of Made in the USA Products www.stillmadeinusa.com