Sunday’s editorial calls out President Trump on his promise to create 25 million jobs for working-class voters. In Michigan on Wednesday, he stood in a gleaming center devoted to automotive innovation, offering workers the policy equivalent of a beat-up wreck from the 1980s: tariffs, closed borders, regulatory rollbacks and a sugar-high assurance to restore American manufacturing to its heyday of half a century ago.
But United States manufacturing has changed. Just ask Titus Hayes, a watch repair supervisor at Shinola, a boutique timepiece, bicycle and leather goods manufacturer that has fostered a small renaissance in midtown Detroit. Mr. Hayes grew up wanting to work for the Big Three, like everyone in his family did. The closest he came was a temporary job on the dashboard assembly line at Johnson Controls in Highland Park, Mich. Unable to land full-time work there, he joined Shinola in 2012. Since then, Mr. Hayes has visited Switzerland for training and worked his way up in the company.
“I never knew anything about this type of manufacturing,” he said. He tells friends still hoping for a Big Three job to “look to the future,” in quiet, clean boutique plants where the starting salary might be lower, but the training is intense and “there are more jobs and opportunities.”
Shinola was founded by Tom Kartsotis, who made a fortune selling slickly packaged, Asian-made watches and accessories under the brand Fossil. Mr. Trump’s “Buy American, Hire American” talk is Shinola’s business model and marketing pitch. The company is based on research showing that Americans will pay more for a pen made in Detroit than one made abroad.
Shinola’s story is the American comeback legend: its Detroit operation opened just as the Motor City entered bankruptcy….