American companies outsourcing manufacturing to China is a fact of life these days. But Chinese companies outsourcing manufacturing to America? Now that’s worthy of a headline.
Yes, believe it or not, Lenovo announced earlier this week that it’s going to open a manufacturing line in Whitsett, North Carolina early next year. There, some 115 American workers will build "Think"-branded systems for sales in the United States. In other news, we’re getting unconfirmed reports that hell has just frozen over.
The U.S.-built systems will include "some of Lenovo’s newest and most innovative products, such as the recently announced ThinkCentre M92p Tiny desktop and ThinkPad Tablet 2," according to the company. Lenovo goes on to note that domestic manufacturing will allow it to "deliver products to customers even more quickly and reliably in many situations, while offering an even broader and more valuable set of PC-related services." I suppose that makes sense. Considering some of Lenovo’s competitors are perfectly happy to keep production outside the country, though, one has to wonder if this is more of a PR stunt than a business decision.
In any case, the new manufacturing line will be located right inside Lenovo’s existing distribution center, which is located here about a dozen miles east of Greensboro. Lenovo says the facility was "recently expanded" and has 240,000 square feet of total floor space. Hiring for the manufacturing line is scheduled to kick off "later this year."