By Ashley Thompson, CEO 50 Strong
I grew up in a plastics business. My father and grandfather started making plastic products in Lima, Ohio more than 30 years ago. I remember trips to the factory with my Dad, that smell of melting plastic and seeing the dedicated workers who made our products.
These trips created a bit of a quirky habit for me as an adult. When I go shopping, I just can’t help myself — I instinctively flip over the product or check its packaging to see where it was made. Seeing “Made in the USA” warms my heart, but unfortunately these days, more often than not, this exercise leaves me saddened as most products are being made offshore.
I was determined to do something about that. In 2012, my husband and I launched 50 Strong to prove that it is possible to manufacture innovative, high-quality, stylish products right here in America and offer them to consumers at competitive prices.
We affordably made more than 3 million water bottles in our Lima factory last year alone. I am proud of what we have accomplished, and hope that it will encourage other manufacturers to produce more products domestically and encourage more retailers to take a closer look at and select American made products for their stores and e-commerce sites.
I also know that bringing manufacturing jobs back to America means starting with a skilled workforce, so we created the 50 Strong Foundation, a non-profit organization awarding scholarships to workers pursuing careers in manufacturing. Our goal is to have a scholarship available in every state, making this a nationwide initiative.
Learn more about the 50 Strong Foundation
American manufacturing is at a critical juncture. We believe there is a bright future ahead and look forward to the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead and to pushing the industry forward.
About Ashley Thompson
Ashley Thompson is the CEO of 50 Strong™, a division of PTC, a plastics company founded in 1982 by her father, Randy Carter.
Ashley attended Ohio Northern University where she met and later married Brendan Thompson. She then attended law school at Ohio State University, and went on to practice corporate law for the next five years. She did not intend to run the family business, but when Ashley decided to take time off to raise a family she found herself back in the family business, running the HR department.
In 2012, Ashley, along with Brendan, who joined the company in 2006 and later became the company’s president, launched 50 Strong, which has become a leading manufacturer of innovative, high-quality American-made bike accessories and water bottles.
Ashley is fiercely passionate about bringing back manufacturing jobs to the U.S, and has made it the company’s mission to promote products that are made in America. To support that mission, they created the 50 Strong Foundation, a self-funded non-profit awarding scholarships to workers pursuing careers in manufacturing.
Learn more about 50 Strong at www.be50strong.com