Paul Wellborn is the president of the largest family-owned cabinet manufacturing company in the United States. And as he sees it, the Trump Administration’s China tariffs are working.
Decades of manufacturing experience have shown Wellborn firsthand that China cheats in order to put U.S. manufacturers out of business—especially by “dumping” product in the U.S. market at below the cost of production.
The tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on China’s subsidized imports have helped the U.S. to reduce exports from China. And they’ve started to narrowwhat has long been a serious trade deficit for the United States. Wellborn says this is a hopeful development.
Earlier this year, Wellborn’s company, Wellborn Cabinet, Inc., joined with roughly 50 other kitchen cabinet manufacturers to form the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance (AKCA). In March, the group filed an anti-dumping petition against China with the Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission. It’s considered the largest trade case ever brought against China.
Wellborn explains that kitchen cabinet manufacturers are some of the only remaining domestic U.S. consumers of hardwood grade lumber. What concerns Wellborn is that China is continuing to follow a well-established pattern of cheating that allows them to take over once-prosperous U.S. industries.
Wellborn said, “If we allow China to cheat us out of our industry as they have so many others, then they’ll own the market for one of America’s most valuable natural resources, hardwood trees.”
Wellborn says that, if the AKCA wins its trade case and President Trump continues his tariffs on Chinese imports, domestic U.S. cabinet makers will be able to stay in business. The industry supports roughly 250,000 jobs throughout the nation. Wellborn notes that, due to manufacturing’s well-established “multiplier effect,” losing those jobs to China would also affect jobs at various supply houses throughout the country.
Kitchen cabinet making is a $9.5 billion dollar industry, and China’s market share has grown 75 percent in the past 3 years. In fact, China’s dumping and massive subsidies have enabled its producers to take 40 percent of the U.S. cabinet market.
“Dumping is illegal, yet China gets away with it and keeps shuttering industry after industry,” said Wellborn. “Domestic manufacturing is the strength of our nation. We need to invest in the future of our country, and that means making sure we continue to have a strong manufacturing base. Standing up to China when they cheat is one of the most important ways to do that.”