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Interview with James Griffith, CEO of The Timken Company.

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“To maintain a standard of living, you have to create more with less,” says Griffith. “When China pays $1 per hour versus $20 in the United States, you have to answer back with something that levels the playing field. Technology does that. This is where profit comes from.

” There are legitimate fears about what might be lost with this new reality. Griffith, though, believes that if they are smart, manufacturers can and will grow and bring workers back into the fold.

Others fear that global competition may jeopardize practices of fair trade and environmental protection. Griffith does not believe those fears are legitimate. “As the United States moves into the world, it improves standards,” he says. “As we improve conditions around the world, we must be careful that we are business friendly.”

At the height of manufacturing’s success in Northeast Ohio, “the entire infrastructure was built around it,” Griffith says. But as companies and workers moved from cities to townships, the cities lost their tax base and began to decline. The system must change, Griffith says.

“We have to change things like a tax structure that hinders Northeast Ohio’s ability to be a distribution center because of taxes on inventories,” he says. “But more importantly, we must be bold enough to envision a future where manufacturing still anchors the economy of a growing and prosperous Northeast Ohio. And then we have to rise to the challenge of turning that vision into the new reality.”

“Change of this magnitude is never easy,” says Griffith. “Fortunately, Northeast Ohio is home to some of the most innovative companies in the world. We can engineer a solution to the challenges we face, and together we have the experience and commitment to build a new future.”