Congressman Issa joins effort to get “Made In USA” label back on Ontario company’s Maglite flashlights

ONTARIO >> Congressman Darrell Issa, R-Vista, has joined the fight to allow Ontario-based Mag Instrument Inc. to return the “Made in USA” phrase to its line of Maglite brand flashlights.

After visiting the company’s south Ontario headquarters Tuesday, and touring several of its manufacturing lines, Issa said he plans to introduce House legislation that would create a national standard for use of the phrase which would supercede state standards.

“When you are making all this here,” Issa said, during a tour of the facility that makes the aluminum tubing for Maglite flashlights, “you are truly seeing something that doesn’t happen that much in the U.S. anymore.”

When Issa introduces his legislation, something he said would happen either later this week or next week, it will join a similar legislative effort in the Senate, S.B. 118, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, earlier this year.

California is the only state to have a standard for “Made in USA”, a law created more than 50 years ago, Issa said. He quipped that Maglite could say it is “Made in USA” everywhere but California.

The California law, which requires 95 percent of products be made in the USA to be able to advertise as such, was a “sleeper” until plaintiff’s lawyers discovered it in the early 2000s, said Jerrold B. Reilly, Mag Instrument corporate counsel.

After attorneys’ won a $14 million judgement against an Oregon manufacturer, selling its product in California, Maglite discontinued using the “Made in USA” label in 2004, said Jim Zecchini, a Mag Instrument vice president.

The Federal Trade Commission regulations have been interpreted to mean that it can advertise being “Made in USA” or “Made in America” if a substantial part of its product is of domestic origin, Reilly said.

Studies have shown that seven out of ten Americans would likely buy domestically made products, Zecchini said.

“But they have to know it’s made in America,” said Anthony Maglica, founder and president of Mag Instrument.

For some product lines, just two parts keep Maglites from wearing the coveted “Made in USA” label in California, an “O” ring and a tiny chip to control when the flashlight goes from a steady beam to a strobe.

Both pieces can be bought for pennies each overseas and are not made domestically, Maglica said.

To make them in the U.S. would make Maglites more expensive, he said.

Maglite is the last domestic flashlight company standing on the shelves of the giant super retailers, but it can’t tell potential customers it isn’t made in China, Maglica said.


The loss of that marketing edge is a major reason Maglite’s Ontario employment has plummeted from 1,200 to 400, Maglica said.

Even the military isn’t using products with 100 percent American parts anymore, Issa said.

Because Maglite makes the machinery that is used in its manufacturing process, Issa said he is worried if companies like this don’t survive, America will be at a tremendous disadvantage in a global war.

Those skills will have left to nations likely unfriendly, he said.

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