Wal-Mart Launches Site to Connect Suppliers to U.S. Manufacturers
By KIM S. NASH
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.WMT -2.16% and Thomas Publishing Co. have launched a website to help suppliers find component parts from companies based in the U.S. The move is intended to boost Wal-Mart’s “Made in the USA” program, in which the retailer has pledged to buy $250 billion worth of products that support the creation of jobs in the United States, Wal-Mart says.
The site was created to address the needs of some suppliers that wanted to participate in the program, but had trouble acquiring components and raw materials from U.S. companies, said Cindi Marsiglio, vice president of U.S. manufacturing at Wal-Mart. The ThomasNet.com site provides a database of more than 500,000 small and medium-sized manufacturing companies based in the U.S.
“We’re doing whatever we can to accelerate connections,” Ms. Marsiglio said.
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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. wants to help suppliers find components and raw materials made in the U.S. through ThomasNet.com, a searchable database of U.S. manufacturers.
Domestically produced products have several business advantages for Wal-Mart, which benefits from a shorter supply chain and a reduction in certain costs, according to Ms. Marsiglio. Hot-selling products sourced in the U.S. can be replenished faster than products that originated in Asia or other distant locations, she said. “Having production close is a huge business advantage,” she said.
A supplier hoping to do business with Wal-Mart can search ThomasNet.com for makers of washers, tubing and thousands of other components , using attributes such as product type, company location, specific government certifications and diversity criteria, said Tom Greco, vice president of ThomasNet.com. The supplier could then buy those components to use in the making of its own product for Wal-Mart shelves, Mr. Greco said.
The new site is an enhanced version of a similar product from ThomasNet.com available to the public. Wal-Mart suppliers can sign up for a private edition with extra features, such as help requesting information from manufacturers in the database, he said.
While the manufacturers in the database are located in the United States, neither ThomasNet.com nor Wal-Mart verifies whether they make their components outside the country, he said. “It’s up to the buying organization to verify,” he said. “We at least know these are all U.S. manufacturers, with ownership here and jobs here.”
Ms. Marsiglio said Wal-Mart relies on suppliers filing accurate “country of origin” reports, which are subject to state and federal laws.
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