Saving American Industry by Disrupting It – by Pat Choate (Huffington Post – January 14, 2015)

The U.S. economy has lost more than a third of its industrial base over the past 20 years and with it more than six million good-paying jobs. This loss is the real cause of the rising economic inequality that now plagues our nation.

While most of the corporate CEOs who are facilitating this outsourcing of national wealth are indifferent to what is happening, there are a few old-fashioned, true capitalists who are not. One of those is Texas entrepreneur Rob Wendt. He is a man on a mission: He’s fighting to rebuild the American steel industry with American workers in America.

His is a lofty goal, to say the least. Once at the heart of the U.S. economy, the steel business now stands with the automobile industry as a stark symbol of American decline. Our nation led the world in steel production for decades — it was used to build the cars and appliances that fueled domestic job creation and economic growth over much of the 20th century — but U.S. producers have been in freefall since the recession of the 1970s.

At one time its biggest exporter, America is today the world’s number-one steel importer. We have been outrun by China, Europe, and Japan — and now India is hot on our heels.

Wendt wants to reverse that trend. To do so, he is using what the industry has lacked for nearly 100 years: truly disruptive technology. His startup, Origami Steel, has developed a patent-pending process that could radically change the ways in which steel is both made and sold. Fully funded, the company’s technology has the potential to turn the international steel business on its head, much as hydraulic fracturing (better known as “fracking”) has done with oil and gas.

Before founding Origami Steel, Wendt ran a company specializing in steel components used mainly in port construction and heavy-duty earth-retention jobs. Its products were crucial to upgrades made to the New Orleans waterfront in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to the stabilization of the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, and in other big construction projects around the world.

In his years on the job, Wendt witnessed the effects of unfettered globalization firsthand. Overseas steel companies won large contracts by bribing government officials, cut costs by using cheaper materials than those specified by builders, and further consolidated their already daunting market share.

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