American Machinist

A-1-a, or a tale of two transplants. (foreign machine tool companies in the U.S., Okuma Machinery Inc. and Maho Machine Tool Corp.) (editorial)

A-1-a, or a tale of two transplants

So crucial were machine tools for the inevitable conflict with Germany and Japan in the months before Pearl Harbor that this American industry was given special deference. Washington set up the Office of Production Management and fifty years ago it gave the American machine-tool industry an "A-1-a" priority in procurement: When supplies got scare, builders got first crack. (For a taste of what it must have been like, turn to the "50 years ago in AM" column that faces the back cover of this issue.)

The rest was, as they say, history. The American industry gave an unprecedented and astonishing response, and at the close of World War II it emerged dominant in the world, a supremacy that lasted a quarter-century and beyond.

In the face of that dominance--some would say because of it--the industry started losing share. By a decade ago, imports had grabbed a quarter of the US market; today they account for about half. Along the way, the US industry fought back, with every weapon at its disposal, including political ones. A series of agreements that limit exports of certain machines from certain countries (Japan and Taiwan) and requests restrictions from nine others including Germany was one means. …

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