Tales of a Kitchen Remodel Sourced in the United States

It may require some digging around and being purposeful, but it can be done

Ken Voytek

May 30, 2018

Without manufacturing, the room where you make dinner would be rather stark and barren. There’d be no pots, no pans, no stoves, no spatulas, no appliances—big or small. There’d be no way to prepare the meals that give you and your family sustenance. With no counter, there wouldn’t even be a place to set down your coffee cup!

Manufacturing is ubiquitous.

Although this post will not be as lyrical (or as humorous) as the famous song, “All Around the Kitchen” by Pete Seeger, I thought it would be fun to share my recent observations based on a kitchen makeover we had done. For those who know me well, I am cheap, so I braced myself for the anticipated expense. I am still recovering from the expenditure, but it was fun to watch it come together.

I thought it might be an interesting experiment to see how much of the kitchen makeover could be sourced in the United States. It’s not only a kitchen, but a testament to why manufacturing matters, and to the fact that you can indeed find things made right here. The process took some time.

I should say at the outset that the U.S.-based companies mentioned below are the ones with the products that best met my kitchen needs, but your needs may be very different. This isn’t an endorsement of these companies, just an endorsement of the idea that finding U.S. companies to meet your needs, kitchen remodel or otherwise, may be easier than you think.

We first met with the kitchen designer from Schmuck Lumber Co. located in Hanover, Pennsylvania. I love those old-school lumber companies, and this one was recommended by our contractor. (By the way, potato chips and pretzels are also made in Hanover.)

After a long discussion about the new layout of the kitchen, we forged on to cabinet selection. We chose Schrock Cabinetry, located in Arthur, Illinois, which is known for its fine heritage of Amish craftsmanship.

The next big decision was the flooring. We decided on hardwood and chose Armstrong Flooring, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Armstrong has a 150-year history and 15 manufacturing facilities worldwide, with 13 of them located in the United States.

On to the countertops (see the importance of coffee cup placement in paragraph one). We went with quartz, made in Adairsville, Georgia, by LG Hausys America. Following that was the tile for the backsplash. We decided to go with a tile made by Sonoma Tilemakers out of California. The tile we ordered—a 3 in. x 6 in. beveled subway tile—is made by the company at its California factory.

As part of the makeover, we also put in a larger window over the sink, and took out the slider and put in a door. The window we purchased was an Andersen window. The company is headquartered in Bayport, Minnesota, and the packaging proudly noted that it was “MADE IN THE USA.” The door we purchased to replace the sliding door was a Therma-Tru door made in Butler, Indiana.

To replace the slider and to accommodate the larger window, we needed several two-by-fours, a couple of two-by-sixes, an oriented strand board (or OSB) to go on the outside where the slider was, and some drywall. The dimensional lumber was milled in either Canada or Maine, and the OSB was made by LP Building Products in Roxboro, North Carolina. The drywall was also made in the United States by USG Corp.

To finish the outside, we needed to replace the vinyl siding and found NAPCO, which has facilities in Missouri, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

The tools used by the contractor appeared to be the typical builder-type products, though when I ventured to Home Depot, I noticed the majority were labeled as ‘Made in the USA’ from globally sourced parts.

So, there you have it. A tour of manufacturing in the United States through the lens of a kitchen remodel. The planning and waiting for the cabinets to be delivered was the longest part. The actual gutting of the old kitchen and the remodeling itself took about two weeks total.

I was surprised at how much of what we purchased was indeed made in the United States. I also made a point of purchasing most of the materials from smaller, local companies. I was expecting my quest to find U.S.-made products more challenging, but it was easier than I thought. I am glad I did. I can also say that the construction company, True Contractors, was also domestically sourced. That I know for sure, since I know all three folks who worked on the kitchen. I even pitched in a little on the construction, so we’ll call it four locally sourced contractors.

It is nice to know that you can indeed find lots of things still made in this country. It may require some digging around and being purposeful, but it can be done.

About The Author

Ken Voytek’s picture

Ken Voytek

Ken Voytek is the principal with Mountain View Economics, which provides consulting services on economic and workforce development, industry analyses, program evaluation, and economic research projects for economic development organizations, research organizations, and other nonprofit and university-based organizations. Before retiring, Mr. Voytek was the Program Evaluation and Economic Research Group manager and the Chief Economist with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).