The following editorial by Anthony Maglica appeared in the San Bernardino Sun.
I was born in the United States in 1930. At the age of 2, I moved to Europe with my mother because of the Depression. I could not return to my country until after World War II. During my time in Europe I endured the cruelty of fascism, the more subtle but still soul-crushing system of socialism, and the deprivation and capriciousness of communism. I returned to the United States as an adult at the urging of my mother who always told me I could do and be anything I wanted in America if I worked hard and dealt honestly. I have since lived the American Dream – to create opportunity and prosper.
My name is Anthony Maglica and I am the founder and owner of Mag Instrument Inc., better known for our leading product, the popular Maglite flashlight.
In 1955, I launched my business as a one-man machine shop, and since then have grown it into a manufacturing enterprise, which distributes flashlights worldwide from our headquarters in the Inland Empire. Today, about 700 U.S. workers are on my payroll.
America’s entrepreneurial spirit is what prompted me to become and remain a U.S.-based manufacturer. Even at the height of outsourcing to countries like China and India, I maintained my commitment to operating solely in the United States. I’m proud to say that all Mag Instrument flashlights are manufactured in a U.S. facility, by U.S. workers.
Although I have always tried to make all product parts in my own U.S. factory, globalization and the emergence of new manufacturing centers and free-market systems have changed the cost and availability of some components I now have to import. These parts are simply not available from other U.S. manufacturers, or are not cost effective for my company to produce domestically.
Because I imported a small percentage of parts, California state law requires that I omit the label that states that my product is “Made in the U.S.A.,” despite the fact that Mag Instrument is a U.S. company. Unless 100 percent of a product is made in the United States, California’s ridiculous Business and Professions Code provision prohibits my company from using “Made in the U.S.A.”
Federal law, however, only requires that a product be “substantially” made domestically to bear the “Made in the U.S.A.” mark. So in all 49 other states I could make my flashlights with even less U.S. manufactured parts than I do now, and call them American made – but not in California.
Because of California’s laws, Maglite, the only major flashlight company still manufacturing its flashlights in the U.S., can never be advertised as an American product. Consumers will never know that I employ hundreds of U.S. workers and that my company provides millions of dollars in economic benefit to the city of Ontario, the Inland Empire and the state of California.
In these tough economic times it is important that we support U.S. companies that are still employing U.S. workers, that have not relocated and that aren’t outsourcing jobs and key operations to other countries. I want people to know that I have stayed here and paid the higher wages, the higher taxes and the other costs of doing business, even though I could be manufacturing my products much cheaper by moving to another country, or even just to another state.
I am happy to make those sacrifices as a U.S. company, but I want to be able to put “Made in the U.S.A.” on my products and reach people who care about buying U.S.-made products.
Thankfully, Assemblyman Brian Jones has introduced Assembly Bill 858, which proposes to change California’s law so it aligns with the rest of the country and adopts the policies set by the Federal Trade Commission.
This bill will not only allow my company and others to proudly showcase that our products are American made, but it will also eliminate a few barriers that might be stopping other companies considering relocation or expansion in California.
The passage of this bill would finally level the playing field between California manufacturers and those in the rest of the country that can claim the “Made in the U.S.A” mantle and the marketing advantage that comes with that moniker.
My mother never told me that life in the United States would be easy or that success would be easily achieved. She did tell me that, unlike the other systems we lived under, in America I would have a fair opportunity to compete without barriers, and without bureaucratic intrusion in my affairs.
All I want for my company – all I have ever wanted – is a fair shot, an equal opportunity to compete. A.B. 858 would go great lengths to restoring that promise in California for manufacturers like me. Please contact your legislator and tell them to support A.B. 858.
Anthony Maglica is the president and owner of Mag Instrument Inc. in Ontario.