It’s a story we have heard all too often in the past few years. A local company loses business to overseas competition and is forced to close its doors. But Mark Andol, the owner and founder of the Made in America Store simply wouldn’t go down without a fight.
At the age of 19, Mark opened his first business in his father’s garage, “Mark’s Small Engine and Repair Service”. He innovated “mobile service” on small engines from 3 to 25 HP on-site at the customer’s residence, and did everything from tune-ups to overhauls.
In 1989 at the age of 23, Mark was ready to focus more on welding and fabricating. He started General Welding & Fabricating, Inc., renting a 5,000 sq ft shop in East Aurora, NY. He was now up to 10 employees to respond to demand for his honest, quality workmanship.
His business outgrew the modest facility, so Mark broke ground on a 14,000 sq.ft. building in the Town of Elma, and over the years expanded his business to 60 employees, and three additional locations. In 2007, Mark cut the ribbon on a 48,000 sq.ft. addition to his Elma facility. The addition was designed for flexibility, efficiency and growth to meet the demand of customers from across the U.S. Little did he know that almost over-night the very accounts he grew for would wipe the business from underneath his feet.
Mark was caught in the crosshairs between The Great Recession and the Global demand for cheaper goods. Two multi-million dollar accounts dropped off in only a weekend, and Mark was forced to lay off half of his workforce. After some research on where business went and how the products were being produced so inexpensively ($3 cheaper than General Welding and Fabricating could produce them at cost), Mark was able to find out that the new supplier was a manufacturer in China, that didn’t have to follow the strict regulations he had to. The product was being shipped from China, to a port in Florida and then distributed to all of the Regional Support Centers that General Welding and Fabricating used to supply.
This was one of Mark’s most painful experiences in life, as he believes in the dignity of those who work with their hands and believes in livelihoods that enable families to buy a home, have a car and send their kids to college. Unemployment puts the American dream on hiatus. For some people, it puts their dreams on hold for good.
Determined to make lemonade out of lemons, Mark began visioning a store that would only carry products that are 100% American Made. In a moment of inspiration – though some at the time called it insanity – he decided to run with the idea.
Mark Andol’s vision became a reality with the opening of the Made in America Store on April 3, 2010. It is the only brick and mortar general merchandise store in the country that exclusively sells 100% American Made Products – down to the packaging.
The Made in America Store opened on April 3, 2010. Located just 20 minutes from Buffalo and less than an hour from Niagara Falls, NY, it is the only general merchandise store in the country that sells 100% American Made Products, down to the packaging. Our mission is to restore U.S. manufacturing jobs by providing American consumers a brick & mortar store and e-commerce site that guarantees that each product sold is entirely American in materials and labor.
Since Opening Day, the Made in America Store has been featured on ABC’s World News Tonight, FOX & Friends, and nationally syndicated and satellite radio. AP articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and newspapers across the country. Reporters from Japan and Russia have come to the store, making it an international story. To date, more than 100 tour buses have added the Made in America Store as a destination. And, buses are added every week, some from as far as San Diego, California!
In addition to requiring that all products sold are 100% American Made, down to the packaging, the Made in America Store insists on top quality at comparable pricing. Our customers know they are helping to feed an American family when they shop at our store. And, each manufacturing job has a positive economic impact of providing four additional jobs for the benefit of the U.S. economy.
At the Made in America Store, we also honor our active duty members of the U.S. military and our veterans by offering a 10% discount on every purchase, every day.
The recession, the trade imbalance and unfair trade practices have met their match in Mark Andol, owner of the Made in America Store. He does what he does “For Country, Soldier, American worker, and our Children of Tomorrow.” We value every individual who has worked with their hands, head and heart to make our nation great.
Please support our mission to save and create American Jobs, “Because China is a Long Drive to Work”!
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