Construction project embraces 'Made in USA' motto while addressing serious economic concerns

5:29 PM, Feb 5, 2013   |    comments
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OGUNQUIT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The sounds of hammers and saws busy working away is music to the ears of John Mixon. 

"We don't need the government to put us back to work," he stated, as he watched workers installing the home's roof.   "We need the people to put us back to work."

Mixon, a Vietnam Veteran, is responsible for developing the modest three-bedroom home set in a wooded subdivision a few miles from downtown, but his approach to this project is different.  He is using only materials, from the lumber to the nails and everything in between, that are made in the USA and has hired only veterans to help build the home.

"I think there is a big need to do it," he explained.  "I think that after World War II the housing industry lead us out of the Great Depression and a poor economy, and now I think that it is up to us Americans to buy locally and buy American made and put our veterans back to work that have been protecting us."

According to a study done by the Maine Department of Labor, veterans have a higher rate of unemployment in Maine than does the general population. 

"These men and women that have protected us and put their life on the line and there is no jobs for them," he said.  "I saw a real need not only to employ veterans, but to buy USA made products, and we put the two together and we hope that this catches on and that we are not the only ones to do it."

"I thought it was a great idea," said contractor Travis Rice, who served with the Marines and is a current Army National Guard member.  "There is really nobody out there trying to do anything like that right now, so it is good to keep veterans working, keep everyone with their skills, all in the same network."

Mixon says it has been harder to find skilled veterans to work on the project than it has been to find US made materials. 

Travis Rice thinks he knows why.

"There are some guys that some of their stuff doesn't cross over and they don't get the actual training," he explained about some of the men and women he served with.  "So it is a good thing to have something like this around for people to end up getting career opportunities with."

"We were surprised at how much stuff on the shelves wasn't USA made," added Mixon.  "It took a little bit more of an effort to find the USA made stuff, but it is going to be worth it, particularly if this gets repeated."

Mixon says the costs were comparable between US made goods and imported products, so he doesn't expect the overall cost of the project to be much more than if he had just used the products that were stocked on store shelves and readily available.  He says the retailers he worked with were happy to order US made products, and explained to him that most consumers are concerned with the price, rather than where it was made.

He already has plans ready to go before the town's planning board that would build eight more homes the same way.  He hopes his experiment will encourage others to follow suit.

"We want to use this as kind of a test case, put our team together, find our materials, and move on to bigger projects," he said.  "There will be a definite pride in ownership, when you are living in a house that was built by military veterans and all USA made products."

He hopes his projects, and others like it, will help stimulate the economy and put people back to work both locally, and at manufacturers across the country.


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