WSJ – Untouchables

Response to Assignment 5:

So what makes these business’ untouchables?

In the case of orthopedics and prosthetics it is the high demand within the U.S. for these products. “A big reason is that the U.S., with its population of fast-aging baby boomers, injury-prone weekend athletes and overweight people, is by far the world’s biggest market for artificial hips and knees. The U.S. represents an estimated $14 billion of the annual spending in a global market of $22.9 billion”. In addition often doctors work closely with the companies developing the orthopedics or replacement parts so it is easier to communicate if you are only a few miles away rather than a half a world away.

The Viking Range Corp. has an exclusive appeal and their products catered to people who want the real thing made in America. “Viking is one of those rare U.S. brands that have evolved into a cult object. Like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Martin guitars, these brands have an aura of exclusivity that entitles their producers to charge premium prices — which helps keep their relatively high-cost U.S. manufacturing base viable.” These kind of products usually cater to upper class and professionals who have a need and want gas ranges that aren’t just ordinary Kenmore stoves.

The Schantz Organ Company has the advantage of needing very specialized workers to manufacture the Organ pipes. It takes the workers there about 5 years to become completely proficient in their skills. This type of highly specialized skill cannot be easily outsourced because most labor outside of the U.S. is unskilled labor.

All these companies have aspects that make them untouchables but some of them are still effected by outsourcing even if it is just a little bit. These jobs are for the most part untouchables because of their demand nationally, exclusivity in nature, and highly specialized training required to do them.


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