Largest U.S. Nail Manufacturer Gets Screwed by Trump's Tariffs, May Move to Mexico

It’s not just Harley Davidson making noise about leaving the U.S. because of the Trump’s trade war. Mid-Continent Nail in Poplar Bluff, Missouri is getting pounded by the steel tariffs. The company spokesman James Glassman told CNN that they are “on the brink of extinction.


The Mid-Continent Nail plant in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, laid off 60 of its 500 workers last week because of increased steel costs. The company blames the 25% tariff on imported steel. Orders for nails plunged 50% after the company raised its prices to deal with higher steel costs.

The company is in danger of shutting production by Labor Day unless the Commerce Department grants it an exclusion from paying the tariffs, company spokesman James Glassman told CNN’s Poppy Harlow.

Mid-Continent Nail is “on the brink of extinction,” he said.

Glassman said the company might relocate to Mexico, where it could buy the steel without the tariffs — and then export the finished nails back to the United States without tariffs, which only apply to raw materials.

“It’s obviously an option,” said Glassman about moving to Mexico. “It absolutely is something this company does not want to do. It wants to save the jobs in Poplar Bluff, Missouri.”

Mid-Continent Nail had doubled its workforce since 2013 despite increased foreign competition. Now the new steel tariff has forced them to cut their staff by about 12%. Glassman said that Trump’s trade policy is “misguided.”


Not only are the tariffs forcing many companies to make huge staffing or relocation decisions, they also create a climate where federal government cronyism is almost certain to thrive. The Department of Commerce has authority to waive the tariffs for certain companies. Tens of thousands of companies have already applied to be excluded from the tariffs.

About 21,000 US companies have filed for tariff exclusions. In a June 20 Senate hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Mid-Continent had filed a request for an exclusion only two days earlier.

“I’m not belittling their situation at all. But given the importance of it to them, it’s very unfortunate that they waited all these weeks to file the request,” he said. “Under the authority we were granted, there is a process we have to follow.”

In other words, It’s Mid-Continent’s own fault for not submitting a request. I’m guessing that U.S. manufacturers deep in the heart of Trump country probably hadn’t even considered that they’d be forced to beg federal bureaucrats to exclude them from being crushed by the administrations “America first” policies.


It should make any real conservative’s teeth itch knowing that under all the bombast about preventing the U.S. from getting screwed on trade deals there is an army of unelected GS-whatevers picking and choosing which companies have to abide by Trump’s new rules and which ones don’t. The feds picking winners and losers—that’s something conservatives used to oppose wasn’t it?

The area of Missouri where the plant is located voted 80% for President Trump. Glassman said he can’t say whether people in town are still supporting the president.

Oh, I’m sure they are still supporting him. He’s just potentially putting them out of a job. It’s not like he shot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue or anything.


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