BUSINESS
06/27/2018 05:40 am ET Updated Jun 29, 2018

Largest U.S. Nail Manufacturer Could Soon Be Out Of Business Because Of Trump Tariffs

Missouri's Mid-Continent Nail Corporation says it's already laid off dozens of workers and could shutter its doors by Labor Day.

A nail manufacturer in the heart of Trump country says that tariffs from President Donald Trump’s escalating trade conflict are putting its business at risk.

The Mid-Continent Nail Corporation in Poplar Bluff, Missouri, said this week that it had recently laid off 60 of its 500 workers because of the hefty 25 percent tariff that the administration has slapped on steel imports from Mexico and Canada.

Mid-Continent, described as the largest nail manufacturer in the United States, had been importing Mexican steel to turn into nails state-side. The company, which was started in 1987 by two local brothers, said sales plummeted by 50 percent in just two weeks after it raised prices to cope with the elevated steel costs.

Mid-Continent spokesman James Glassman told CNN that the company is now “on the brink of extinction” unless the Commerce Department grants its request for a tariff exclusion.

As things currently stand, Glassman said the firm could shutter its doors as early as Labor Day. Another option on the table is relocating to Mexico, he said.

Mid-Continent said the first wave of layoffs involved temporary contract workers but hundreds of additional employees, including longtime permanent staff, could lose their jobs in the coming weeks.  

“There’s a lot of uncertainty and a ton of fear in Poplar Bluff,” George Skarich, the company’s vice president of sales, told The Washington Post.

Poplar Bluff is located in Butler County, where Trump won almost 80 percent of the vote in the 2016 election. 

Skarich, who voted for the president, told the Post that he was “disappointed” and “sad” at what’s happening to his town and company. If he could speak to Trump, Skarich said he’d tell the president that “these tariffs aren’t hurting China, they are hurting Missouri.”

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who’s facing a very tough re-election in November, is reportedly planning a visit to Mid-Continent’s nail plant on Friday.

News of Mid-Continent’s troubles comes on the heels of Harley-Davidson’s announcement that it would be moving some of its production overseas because of Trump’s tariffs. The iconic motorcycle maker has not revealed whether jobs will be lost from this change. 

Analysts have said that though some U.S. jobs could be created because of Trump’s protectionist tariffs, many more could be at risk because of the burgeoning trade war. 

For instance, while “over 26,000 steel and aluminum jobs would be created” because of Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum, “higher costs from tariffs and retaliation from America’s trading partners would also mean over 495,000 jobs lost elsewhere in the economy,” said Laura Baughman, president of Trade Partnership Worldwide, in an op-ed earlier this month.

“For every American job gained, more than 18 jobs would be lost,” she said.

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