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America's last flatware maker: Trump tariffs on China boost Upstate NY firm

September 21, 2018

Editors note: CPA Member, Sherrill Manufacturing, discuss how the tariffs could fuel record growth in their factory! Which, by the way, is America's last producer of stainless steel flatware.

WASHINGTON -- President Donald Trump's new tariffs on Chinese imports could fuel record growth at a Central New York factory that has become America's last maker of stainless steel flatware, the company's co-founder said Tuesday.

[ Mark Weiner | Sep 18, 2018 | New York Upstate]

"It could be a game changer," said Greg Owens, CEO of Sherrill Manufacturing in Oneida County. "Certainly, a 10 percent tariff will have everyone's attention."

Trump on Monday night announced the U.S. would impose tariffs on an additional$200 billion in Chinese imports , affecting consumer products from air conditioners to forks and knives.

The 10 percent tariff, effective Sept. 24, will increase to 25 percent in the new year, Trump administration officials said.

A 194-page list of items subject to the tariff includes sets of Chinese-made stainless-steel flatware and higher-grade stainless-steel forks that have some nickel content.

More than 70 percent of flatware imports to the United States come from China, Owens said, increasing chances that some producers will look to bring manufacturing back to the United States.

Sherill Manufacturing makes its own Liberty Tabletop brand of flatware in the former Oneida Ltd. plant in the city of Sherrill. The company has the capacity to quadruple or quintuple its production, Owens said.

"I would imagine at some point in time the phone will be ringing at Sherrill Manufacturing from an importer trying to move some production back to the United States," Owens said.

Indonesia, Vietnam and India also have factories that produce flatware exported to the United States, but those plants don't have the capacity to make up for China's share of the market, Owens said.

Sherrill Manufacturing has already increased production this year by more than 30 percent as revenue topped $5 million. The company's workforce has grown from 42 to 54 in the past year.

Owens and co-founder Matt Roberts are former Oneida Ltd. executives whobought the company's plant in Sherrill for $1 million on March 22, 2005 and reopened it the next day as Sherrill Manufacturing.

Oneida Ltd. once employed 2,500 people, who produced 3.5 million forks, knives and spoons per week. The company transferred production overseas and no longer makes its products in the United States.

Sherrill Manufacturing found a niche in the silverware market by selling its Liberty Tabletop brand directly to consumers through its website.

Trump has celebrated the firm's success by inviting Owens and Roberts to the White House for two consecutive years to display their silverware in a "Made in America Product Showcase."

Trump had previously imposed tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese products in July, but that first wave affected mainly industrial products. China retaliated to the latest tariffs on Tuesday by imposing import taxes on $60 billion in American goods.


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