Wintergreen Fire and Rescue focusing more on where its equipment comes from
NELSON COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s been almost six months since Russia invaded Ukraine. But once it happened, Wintergreen Fire and Rescue began thinking more about where its equipment came from.
“Basically the whole world reacted to the invasion of Ukraine in somewhere fashion, and it wasn’t so much that we were looking to ship everything to American, as much as it was to make darn sure that we weren’t supporting a company that had a parent corporation in Russia,” said Chief Curtis Sheets.
It wasn’t hard for Wintergreen Fire and Rescue to take some extra time to research alternative options for their equipment.
“The easiest one that has racked up the most dollars since we started paying attention is tires. So we found two companies that make the full compliment of tires that would fit anything that we have and we’ve just simply been specifying that when we send trucks away for maintenance,” said Sheets.
In some cases, the change has actually saved money. But the nonprofit has to strike a balance between where the product is made and how much it costs.
“We can’t be self-defeating. If choosing the domestic product means that we pay 30% more, then we’re probably not going to choose that product, but if it’s something that’s 5%, 10% more, then certainly we’ll pay the small surplus to keep our business more local,” said Sheets.
Rajesh Bagchi is a professor of marketing at Virginia Tech. He said there are many contributing factors to why people shift their focus to specifically American-made products.
“If you are overly dependent on some other country and there are conflicts abroad then that can really affect your economy. But beyond this, also there is a certain amount of pride,” said Bagchi.
Bagchi also said a full shift might put pressure on manufacturers and lead to higher prices for consumers.
“Educating people about the value of American products, beyond just patriotism, I think some of that can also help increase the premium that consumers are willing to pay. So if it’s only 10% today, maybe they might be willing to pay 20% if they understand how their actions have other affects,” said Bagchi.
Wintergreen Fire and Rescue is proud to be more conscious of what it’s buying now, especially after supply chain issues seen during the pandemic.
“We want to try to not be a part of that problem, support more locally-sourced companies and hopefully we can start to build our own resilient supply chain within the United States so those types of problems don’t happen again,” said Sheets.
Wintergreen Fire and Rescue also just hopes other emergency organizations might also begin to think about where their equipment is coming from.
For more information on Wintergreen Fire and Rescue, you can find its Facebook page here.
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