Sometimes setting out to do social good leads to a great business opportunity. That has been the experience of FON member Jim Stuber, founder of Alltham, P.B.C., which is launching an online marketplace for American-made consumer products.
As Jim tells it, he had an entrepreneur’s “light bulb moment” that actually involved a light bulb, bearing the GE logo and, in caps “CHINA.” Jim set out to determine whether having everything made somewhere else was causing a problem, and if so, what could be done about it. The result was Jim’s recently published book, What if Things Were Made in America Again.
First, Jim determined that there was, indeed a problem: “Buying low-price products made in low-wage countries sounds good until we realize there’s a high cost to that low price. The highest cost is to the families of the workers who lose their jobs when their factory closes and the only jobs they can find, if they can find one, pay half what they were making. But other workers also see their wages bid down, and the rest of us pay the price of treating the resulting social problems, whether it’s through rent subsidies and food stamps, or fighting drug addiction and crime.”
But it seemed to Jim that there also was a ready solution: “I realized that consumers, who are 70% of the economy, could solve the problem by choosing to buy things made in American communities, creating jobs so families can be independent and pay taxes.”
In fact, Jim found that many consumers already want to buy American but are frustrated when they look for American-made products in stores and online. That led to the business opportunity for Alltham: creating an online marketplace offering a wide selection of American-made products in an attractive and enjoyable shopping experience. Comparing it to the online home goods seller Wayfair, Jim calls it a “Wayfair for American-made.” The company plans to benefit from demand created by Jim’s book and an associated non-profit educational organization, Made in America Again (www.madeinamericaagain.org.).
Jim brings a special passion to this project: “My family all worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh and Ohio, and we experienced the American dream of a decent life and a better future. As the son of a steel worker turned fire fighter, I was able to attend ivy League schools and earn a law degree. Now, that dream is being stolen, because we decided we’d rather have our steel and consumer products made in China, and our white-collar work done in India. What do we tell our children to train for, that won’t be sent overseas where some desperate person will do it for half or a fourth of the price?”
Jim believes Alltham can be an important part of the solution as well as a successful business, “doing well by doing good.” “I believe there is no reason why Alltham cannot match the experience of Wayfair, which went public at a $3 billion valuation and has $4.7 billion in annual sales,” he says.
With the publication of the book (www.themadeinamericabook.com) and the construction of Alltham’s websites (www.alltham.com and www.allthamluxe.com), Altham is seeking strategic financial partners as it prepares for a launch scheduled in the first quarter of 2019.
For further information, contact Jim Stuber at email@example.com.