Manufacturing Champions

03/29/2011 12:16 pm ET | Updated May 29, 2011

Despite what you may have heard to the contrary, the U.S. is still the world's largest and strongest manufacturing country. In every year since 2004, U.S. manufacturing output has exceeded $2 trillion in constant 2005 dollars, twice the output produced in America's factories in the 1970s. We produce 21 percent of global manufactured products, well above Japan's 13 percent and China's 12 percent. Standing alone, U.S. manufacturing today would rank as the sixth largest economy in the world.

We are so successful in large part because so many of our premiere manufacturing companies are true economic champions in every sense of the term -- leadership, innovation, global presence, productivity, and profitability. Many of them are among the 30 Dow Jones companies whose performance is the main indicator of the overall market. More than half of the Dow Jones 30 companies are in manufacturing, which means that they make things.

Based on historical and continuing performance, here are 10 manufacturing champions from the Dow Jones Industrial Average:

  • Caterpillar - those big yellow machines are all over the world
  • Cisco - the backbone of the global communications network
  • Intel - the chips that power technology and communications
  • Boeing - the world's most competitive manufacturer of aircraft
  • 3M - born to innovation and stays on the cutting edge
  • Apple - leads the revolution in mobile communications
  • DuPont - the greatest name in chemicals, one of our top export sectors
  • IBM - Big Blue employs 400,000 people in more than 200 countries
  • Alcoa - the world's third largest producer of aluminum and aluminum products
  • Pfizer - the maker of Viagra has more wonders in the pipeline

They are all international companies with vast investments overseas, but that is the reality of world commerce today. We should not have it any other way. A full 95 percent of the world's customers are not here, and neither is the most dynamic economic growth. To compete successfully in the competitive world marketplace of today, we need great manufacturing champions that can aggressively take advantage of opportunities all over the globe while still producing in the U.S.

The good news is -- we have such champions, many of them. It is high time we took note of the power of modern manufacturing to compete abroad and lead growth at home.

Jerry Jasinowski, an economist and author, served as President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years and later The Manufacturing Institute. Jerry is available for speaking engagements.