Wal-Mart's Cindi Marsiglio Sees Progress in Made In USA Initiative

Wal-Mart's Cindi Marsiglio Sees Progress in Made In USA Initiative
Cindi Marsiglio

As Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing, Cindi Marsiglio oversees the company's 2013 initiative to spend an additional $250 billion on U.S.-made goods during the next 10 years. Marsiglio joined Wal-Mart in 2007 after working for the Florida Chamber of Commerce and for then-Gov. Jeb Bush. At the chamber, Marsiglio was director of government affairs and served in Bush’s administration as the deputy secretary for the Department of Management Services.

Marsiglio also leads Wal-Mart’s Supplier Diversity program and has also served as senior director of public affairs and government relations.

Marsiglio graduated from Florida State with a degree in political science.

Talk about the company decision in 2013 to pledge an additional $250 billion over 10 years for U.S.-manufactured products. Why did Wal-Mart do this?

In January 2013, Wal-Mart committed to American renewal by announcing it intends to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products that support American jobs over 10 years. The time is right to bring manufacturing back to the United States. Overseas labor costs are rising while energy costs in the U.S. are low. It just makes sense to build things closer to the point of consumption.

What are the business advantages of this initiative for Wal-Mart?

First and foremost, customers have told us they care about where their products are made. In fact, it’s second to price in driving purchasing decisions, and I don’t see that slowing. Buying local allows us to respond to consumer trends, quickly replenish popular items and react to seasonal demand. Taking containers off the water also supports our bold sustainability goals. At the core, this commitment is about creating jobs, good jobs, in local communities we serve across the country.

How would you qualify the success of Wal-Mart’s Made in USA initiative? Are you on course to meet the company’s short- and long-term goals?

Wal-Mart put forth a very large purchase order to accelerate the efforts of our suppliers. It’s a 10-year commitment because not every item makes sense to be manufactured in the U.S. today.

As we approach our three-year milestone, I’m thrilled with our progress. Our success is right on schedule. Having evaluated more than 1,300 product categories, those that are rising to the top have four things in common: Transportation is a high percent of the cost, energy is a high percent of the cost, labor is a low percent of the cost, and highly seasonal or trend categories where “being close” matters to keep products on the shelf.

We are investing in innovation and putting our resources here at Wal-Mart to work to accomplish our goal by growing business with current suppliers, adding new suppliers and, where it makes economic sense, shifting items to U.S. production.

To what extent has the initiative met your expectations?

Our buyers are engaged and there are hundreds of initiatives across every category under consideration. While we still have more challenges ahead, we are seeing progress that exceeds my expectations.

It’s one thing to talk about reshoring, but for many manufacturers that can be an involved, expensive process. How has the response been from your suppliers and how can Wal-Mart help that transition?

We think one of the most important roles Wal-Mart can play is as a facilitator and accelerator. We can also think differently about how we buy products, like making multiyear commitments. Many suppliers have told us that one of the biggest obstacles they have is knowing who to talk to and where to go. That’s why we are helping suppliers connect with state and local government officials and economic development offices.