Interview with Entrepreneur - Gretchen Philyaw - Founder of USA LOVES MFG and Magenta Technologies
Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Gretchen Philyaw is the President & CEO of Magenta Technologies LLC, an Atlanta-based industrial automation company. She is also the founder of USA Loves Manufacturing, an organization promoting and advocating for USA Manufacturing & Technology.
In our interview with Gretchen we explore her entrepreneurial journey and advocacy for made in US manufacturing and technology. She also talks about the benefits of Reshoring.
Hello Gretchen, Thank you for participating in this Q&A session. We would like to start by exploring your origin story. Please give us an overview of your background, career milestones, and your entrepreneurial journey to date?
Gretchen: I have been in the manufacturing and technology industry for 15+ years. I started in the cellular industry after time spent in NYC and LA. I was able to see cellular move from analog to digital and then M2M which is now IOT.
The advancement in technology helped me advance rapidly in the manufacturing arena when I decided to make a move five plus years ago. The industries were very similar in adoption of new technology and mindset. I immersed myself in the manufacturing industry to learn as much as I could about automation, robotics and the new technologies, so I could help my clients advance into the next wave of the future of manufacturing and technology.
I created USA Loves Manufacturing when I saw the need to recognize the contribution of manufacturing and technology in the USA.
I wanted to use my platform to shine a spotlight on some great companies with the hope of driving new business their way and creating synergy. The need for both is clearly there and I wanted to make a difference.
What are the key challenges you have faced in your entrepreneurial journey and how have you navigate these?
Gretchen: We all know the stereotypes. When a tall blond in heels walks into a plant you have to know you don’t always fit in but that shouldn’t stop you from going. You have to prove yourself every time you walk through the door, but when you walk in with confidence and project that you belong there, the dialogue quickly changes.
I have no problem being a trailblazer. I believe my passion for the industry and my drive is very evident, and I hope that the energy I create helps drive others.
Has your entrepreneurial journey been influenced by any past or present business leaders?
Gretchen: My entrepreneurial journey has been influenced by many leaders. Entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison and Elon Musk inspire me. Thomas Edison has been quoted as saying “I never did a day’s work in my life, It was all fun.“ I completely agree!
Leaders and entrepreneurs who have a continued sense of curiosity inspire me to find the same excitement in each day which I believe turns into success.
What is the origin story behind your advocacy for "Made in America" products?
Gretchen: I believe wholeheartedly in the USA! I believe we are a great nation with amazing people who help drive manufacturing and technology. I believe manufacturing and technology is the nascency of our country.
I want to do everything I can to tell the story of what I believe is the fabric of America. I want to celebrate the accomplishments and the stories. I wanted a name that conveyed my passion around manufacturing and technology. I believe that we have hundreds of thousands of businesses that keep the USA strong.
I feel strongly that we need to create more action to buy from the USA. I think the name says it all.
How does your company "USA Loves MFG" support the drive for "Made in America" products?
Gretchen: I believe there are many great organizations and movements supporting "Made in America." There is no magic formula or secret about what I do at USA LOVES MANUFACTURING. I believe it is my job to find a way to put a spotlight on businesses where people are working hard every day. They provide a great service and deliver an even better product but oftentimes, they do not have the marketing budget of bigger companies.
I see the value created and I use my platform to bring attention to our partners. People respond when they know about options or learn about someone doing great things. My job is to connect the dots. I have a few exciting projects coming down the pipeline and I will be revealing those very soon!
I believe getting the word out to “Simply Buy American” is the most important message of all.
As an advocate of "Made in America" products, what's your take on the US China trade war?
Gretchen: When you have two superpowers trying to create principles and strategies it can be very difficult. Our world economy and world stability is very much dependent on the two countries working together on a deal that will support each and everyone.
There is a school of thought that the advocacy for "Made in America" products results in manufacturers incurring higher operational costs, which leads to high product prices. Should the location of a manufacturing plant be driven by access to cheaper and affordable labour?
Gretchen: Reshoring is very important to creating better supply chain, increasing productivity, eliminating waste and creating a more sustainable environment. We cannot look at thought processes from the past. I believe we need to focus on a bigger picture. When we focus on reshoring and localization we will create thriving communities and also, create a positive ripple effect in the local economies. It is a win-win for everyone.
We would like to explore the value proposition of your company Magenta Technologies. Please tell us why Magenta Technologies was established, what solutions it provides, and lastly, what's its target market?
Gretchen: I very much have an entrepreneurial spirit and knew I would eventually step back out on my own in a business, but it was an unexpected move at the start of 2020. I had been dealing with a company culture I could not fit well into and it reached a breaking point.
I had to completely start over and that is when I decided to start my own company. I saw how when you create a positive and thriving culture you can create a better company. It has gone amazingly well even despite of COVID and I couldn’t be happier.
I am proud of creating a company that not only creates a platform of services for the industry but serves as a conduit connecting businesses.
In my heart, helping businesses advance their manufacturing capabilities makes our economy better. It creates jobs. Sharing successes across the industry creates energy and the successes of one becomes the successes of many.
While I appreciate competition, I find collaboration between industries generates a greater outcome for all. I think there is room for good companies and good people to win.
Before we conclude this Q&A session, we would like to know what impact the pandemic had on your business enterprise in general, and how you managed this?
Gretchen: The pandemic has tested all of us in so many ways. We have lost loved ones and in some ways we have lost a part of ourselves. I believe the resilient spirit that resides in each and everyone of us will help us prevail.
It warms my heart to see our communities adapting to every challenge thrown at them. I believe we will weather this storm and come back stronger than ever. We are strong. We are the USA. But most importantly We Are The World!
Thank you Gretchen for participating in this Q&A session, we wish you all the best.
Gretchen: Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak with you all!