At a time President Donald Trump is under intense fire on several fronts, he recently got some strong and significant words of praise for one of his most controversial policies.
"I'm glad the president put the high tariffs on China and especially happy to tell you: They are working!" said Paul Wellborn of Ashland, Alabama, president of the largest family-owned cabinet manufacturing company in the U.S.
In a recent interview with Newsmax, Wellborn, who oversees 1,400 employees and an annual revenue of $180 million, explained China's "dumping" (selling cabinetry at prices lower than cost) in the U.S. market has taken its toll on the U.S. cabinet manufacturers.
Reducing work hours, slowing production lines, and even closing plants have been the end result of Chinese dumping on his business, he said.
Wellborn added the Chinese have an advantage in that their cabinet industry receives a substantial subsidy (roughly 35 different state subsidies support the Chinese cabinet industry).
"Between 1995 and 2005, the supply of furniture products from China to the U.S. increased 13-fold," wrote Kenneth Rapoza in Forbes Magazine, "Much of the industry is concentrated in Guangdong Province in the south, around the Pearl River delta, a place built for the export markets. Furniture manufacturing conglomerates were formed in Shenzhen, Dongguan, and Guangzhou, where there is access to a large labor force, networks of suppliers, and constant infusion of technology and capital."
Moreover, as many American businessmen competing with China point out, there is no OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) in China and few environmental rules with which the Chinese cabinet industry has to grapple.
"But after the president imposed the first tariffs, things began to turn around," the Alabamian noted.
But, he quickly added, "There is much more to be done."
Last year, Wellborn and others in the cabinet business launched the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA) to fight back at the Chinese dumping with even harsher tariffs than those Trump has imposed.
AKCA now represents 70% of the cabinet industry in the U.S.
"We have nothing against the Chinese," Wellborn said. "We just don't want them dumping their products in the U.S. with the unfair advantages they have. When we have a level playing field and compete fairly, that's fine."
Last month, the International Trade Commission (ITC) commenced hearings on the plight of the cabinet industry. AKCA is leading the charge for an increase of the present 10 to 25% tariffs on Chinese goods to 200%. Such an increase, they argue, would finally even the competition between the cabinet industries of China and the U.S. — to which the latter has lost an estimated $4 billion to the former in the past few years.
For his part, Paul Wellborn has managed to "hang on" despite his heavily subsidized competition from China. Wellborn Industries proudly calls its 1500-acre "campus" the home to 1,400 employees.
All five of Wellborn's children and several of his 15 grandchildren work there, with the plant and its ground including a daycare center for 105 children (50% of the Wellborn employees are women).
"And we still make cabinets from lumber in the sawmill to finished product," he proudly told us, "and we deliver throughout the country with our own drivers."
Wellborn recalled how he learned his motto for success from his mother: "always treat people the way you want to be treated." Another motto of his he cites frequently these days he learned from reading about Winston Churchill: "Never, never give in."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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