In case you aren’t aware, Mr. LongArm is the World’s largest US manufacturer of telescopic extension poles and accessories, and we’re proud of this fact. Today I’d like to take a minute and explain why we are so adamant about using US made extruded aluminum in our 3ft. and longer extension poles.
1) China has Eaten 20%+ of the Market Share since 2009
Before the economic downturn in 2008 Chinese extruded aluminum made a negligible impact on US markets. Manufacturers, like MLA, who purchased US aluminum did so in a competitive and fair market. In 2009 China moved in on key US industries using, what the US International Trade Commission considered, “improper and illegal” trade practices. This caused a lot of turmoil for US Aluminum Extruders, so in 2011 the Department of Commerce placed a tariff on Chinese extruded aluminum. Rand Baldwin, president of the Aluminum Extruders Council (AEC) believes this is a step in the right direction,
“This is about fair trade, open markets; competition. The government of China, hoping to rapidly build industry and jobs in China, targeted certain industries for worldwide domination. The tariffs re-established a level playing field that brought business and jobs to U.S. producers who won back their customers. It’s been a huge victory for those who believe in fair trade.”
How does all this affect extension poles? Firstly, retailers who want to sell American made telescoping poles won’t have to compete so much on price. “Generally, what Fair Trade means for retailers is that the U.S. market is protected (for now) from being dominated by a single supply source,” said Baldwin. And second, the Professional and DIYer will find a better quality product on the shelves, which is our next point:
2) We Believe US Extruded Aluminum is High Quality
We craft each extension pole right here in the Heartland of America. IT is our goal to provide the highest quality tool, and to achieve this goal we only use the highest quality components. In our testing of imported extension poles made in China (and some from India, Mexico and other countries) we almost always find (1) the anodizing is thinner than our American-made product, which leads to easier scratching of the pole’s slider (2) the slider portion of the pole does not extend and collapse as smoothly as our poles, giving our products more durability (3) the weld is not as solid and (4) the slider does not remain in the round and/or does not have a consistent inner or outer dimension the length of the slider/body and that decreases the longevity/life use of the pole.
With the tariffs in place Chinese aluminum isn’t any cheaper and isn’t as consistent or as strong as it’s US made counterpart. Some companies are trying to cut costs and corners by switching their sliders to a different material, bringing us to our last reason…
3) We Don’t Want to Use Steel Sliders
Some manufacturers have opted to switch to using inexpensive steel in their sliders. Now, let’s pause for a quick caveat: we have a great line of all steel Twist-lok extension poles, that being said, there is a time and a place for these poles, which are for light duty jobs.
Aluminum is three times lighter than steel, which means it can make a day of stretching and reaching a lot easier on a painter. Aluminum extension poles are the best choice for tasks/projects where (1) the length of the extension pole is three feet or longer (2) the task requires working with the arms overhead (3) the force exertion on joints and connective tissues (such as in painting) will be prolonged – more than one hour and/or over the course of days and (4) the posture involves the use of stretching, bending and otherwise manipulating the body in less-than-typical manners.”
Does a little extra weight really matter? Well according to some studies, professional painters often develop shoulder and neck musculoskeletal disorders, including rotator cuff problems and cervical myofascitis, due to repetitive motion when using their arms in an overhead position for many hours over extended periods of time. Even if you don’t paint for a living, I think we can all attest to the stress a full day painting can put on your body! Why add to it with less appropriate material like steel when aluminum does the job better?
How can you tell if the telescopic extension pole you are looking at is made from steel or aluminum? You can use a magnet, which will be attracted to a steel slider but not an aluminum one, or you could always just look for the Mr. LongArm label!
I hope we’ve been able to express our desire to keep both our dealers and end-users best interest in mind at all points of the design and manufacturing process. We use American made aluminum in our products because it’s good for our customers and its good for America.
Thanks for taking the time to read this, if you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comments section below. How do you feel about buying products made in the US? Is it important to you when you go shopping?