The Importance of American Manufacturing:

May 03, 2013 3 min read

importance of manufacturing

This Week On The Importance of American Manufacturing:

Meet Enrique Santacana. Enrique is the President and Chief Executive Officer of ABB Inc. (“ABB”) and the Region Manager of ABB North America.

Q.  Please tell us a little about yourself.
A.  I'm Enrique Santacana, President and Chief Executive Officer of ABB Inc. (“ABB”) and the Region Manager of ABB North America. ABB is the global leader in power and automation technologies that improve energy efficiency, performance and sustainability.  I joined ABB in 1977 and have held a variety of management positions including Region Division Manager for Power Products in North America. Prior to that, I was Vice President and General Manager of the Medium Voltage Products business unit of ABB’s Power Technologies division in North America. I earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico; an M.S. in Electric Power Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute; and an MBA from Duke University. I sit on the Board of Governors of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and am also a member of the Business Roundtable where I am Vice Chair of their Sustainable Growth Initiative.  I have served on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee where I helped the Department of Energy meet requirements of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

Q.  Why is American Manufacturing important to you?

A.  The US is ABB's largest growth market, so there is significant value in locating manufacturing here to serve the North America region. For example, many of the products we make must meet ANSI standards (vs. IEC) to be of interest for US customers, so it makes sense to build them here. Also, we have found that in a number of cases the time savings realized by having manufacturing located in the US outweighs the cost savings of producing products in lower cost countries in terms of value to our customers. When a utility is trying to recover from a hurricane, for example, the ability to receive replacement equipment within days or even hours is vital.

Q. Where did your passion for USA manufacturing begin?

A.  ABB has invested in US manufacturing since the company as it exists today was created in 1988. This has included acquisitions such as Westinghouse's transmission and distribution business in 1989 as well as greenfield investments like our high-voltage cable factory in Huntersville, NC, which opened in 2012.

ABB Logo

Q. How have you/your company expressed that passion throughout your life?

A.  ABB has grown its US manufacturing footprint since the formation of the company, but in the past few years it has accelerated thanks to some key acquisitions. With the addition of Baldor Electric (motors, drives, mechanical power transmission) in 2010 and Thomas & Betts (low-voltage products) in 2012, we now have more manufacturing operations in the US than ever before.

Our high-voltage circuit breaker factory in Mt. Pleasant, PA is a great example of this growth, too. It was constructed in 2003 to replace an aging facility the business had long outgrown and features streamlined logistics, bright, clean work areas and advanced materials handling equipment (e.g., a gas handling system to manage the SF6 gas used in HV breakers). Our high-voltage cable plant was located in Huntersville, NC after an exhaustive search that included not on the US but sites in Canada and Mexico as well. One of the key reasons for choosing Huntersville was access to top-notch talent, both in engineering and in production.

Q. If you could choose one word to describe American manufacturing, what would it be?

A. Innovation.

If you, or someone you know, would be interested in being interviewed on the Importance of American Manufacturing, please send inquiries to Logan Beam at

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