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Examples of How the TAAF Program Is Helping U.S. Manufacturing Firms Compete Against Increasing Imports

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EDA supports a national network of 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACSs) to help strengthen the competitiveness of American companies that have lost domestic sales and employment because of increased imports of similar goods and services.

The 11 TAACs work with individual firms to develop a deep understanding of their unique competitive strengths and weaknesses and, based on this understanding, build and implement competitiveness strategies customized for each particular firm.

Below, you will find stories of how these TACCs are working with manufacturers in their regions to help them grow and thrive.

Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Center (GLTAAC)

A $35 million, 200-worker Michigan valve maker had steadily lost business to imports as its products became increasingly commoditized. It needed to diversify to rebuild sales, but first it needed market intelligence to direct its efforts. After qualifying for TAAF in 2014, the firm used the program to identify new applications in new markets for its products. Within a year, the new business that resulted accounted for more than 10 percent of total sales. This firm completed the TAAF program in FY 2017, is stabilized and now well-positioned for strong, long-term growth.

A $20 million Ohio food processing machine maker entered the TAAF program in late 2014. It was losing sales to large multinational competitors both at home and abroad. To combat this, the firm needed to better differentiate itself by tailoring a sales strategy to leverage its strengths in quality and service. The firm undertook a comprehensive sales and marketing initiative through the program to do so. Results so far include sales over $35 million and the addition of 30 jobs. The firm will complete the program in 2018.

Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MamTAAC)

A Kansas manufacturer of sheet metal fabrication for the HVAC industry entered the TAAF program in 2010 and completed the TAAF program in 2015. TAAF funds were used on support systems (office automation and accounting) to make the company more cost effective combined with marketing efforts (designing catalog database and sales analysis) to attract new customers to replace those lost to import competition. Since participating in the program, the company’s annual sales increased from $12.5 million to $57 million.

A Missouri manufacturer of industrial heating products, electric heating elements, heater modules and process ovens entered the TAAF program in 2013 and completed the TAAF program in 2016. The company used TAAF funds on marketing/sales projects to identify market trends, distribution channels and new partners worldwide; and installed new software to improve processes and products. Between the time of entrance to completion of the TAAF program, sales increased 86 percent and employment increased by 15 percent.

MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MATAAC)

A Pennsylvania maker of specialty tires entered the TAAF program in 2011 presenting declines of 15 percent in sales, 12 percent in employment and 40 percent in profits. Management implemented a dozen projects covering upgrades in marketing, sales, leadership development, website design, e-commerce, organizational development, etc. Since completing the program in 2016, results so far include 15 percent sales growth, 11 percent job growth, 87 percent profit growth and a 3 percent increase in productivity.

A Virginia maker of printed circuit boards entered the TAAF program in 2013 presenting declines of 15 percent in sales, 12 percent in employment and 36 percent in productivity. Profits were under water. The firm is still active having implemented projects thus far covering upgrades to the sales business process, website and ISO certification. Results so far include 12 percent sales growth, five percent job growth, and a six percent increase in productivity. The firm is now profitable.

Midwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MWTAAC)

A Minnesota electronic circuit test fixture manufacturer entered the TAAF program in 2010 after a 10 percent decline in employment and an over five percent decline in sales. Competing imports for similar products were increasing in the U.S. market by over 21 percent when qualifying. TAAF assistance was used to increase employee capacity while improving the marketing plan and strategy. The firm exited the program in 2016 having increased its employment by 17 percent while increasing annual sales by 79 percent when compared to data prior to entering the TAAF program.

A Wisconsin millwork and hardwood flooring manufacturer was losing customers to cheaper Canadian and Chinese competitors in 2012, and experienced a 23 percent decline in workers and 27 percent decline in domestic sales as a result. Competing imports were up by over 26 percent at the time the firm qualified for TAAF. The company utilized TAAF assistance to improve manufacturing capacity while increasing quality and reducing waste. As a result of the improvement projects, the firm increased employment by 25 percent and domestic sales by 24 percent when exiting in 2017.

New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NETAAC)

A Massachusetts firm that performs anodizing, chemical conversion coating and painting of components experienced a decline in sales in 2013 due to foreign competition from China. TAAF projects included market research, sales strategies, management information system, process improvements and AS9100 certification. As a result, new customers were obtained in the aerospace and automotive industries. At program exit in 2016, sales had increased by 22 percent and employment increased by 33 percent.

A Rhode Island firm that manufactures metal wire forms and stampings entered the TAAF program in 2011, due to losing business mostly to China. Projects included sales and marketing, branding, website design, SEO and market research. A major focus was placed on the “Made in USA” promotion and exporting. At time of program exit in 2016, company sales grew by 26 percent and 6 workers were added. The firm now exports to Mexico, Canada, Hong Kong and China.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance Center serving New York, New Jersey and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (NYNJPRTAAC)

A New York original equipment manufacturer in the aircraft, automotive and industrial equipment markets entered the TAAF program in 2011. The firm had losses in sales and employment due to direct competition from Chinese manufacturers. The firm received TAAF technical assistance to complete a strategic business/sales plan. Upon completing the program in June 2017, annual gross revenues have increased 36 percent since certification and the firm is in the process of acquiring another building, which should add 15 new jobs.

A mining and fossil fuel extraction manufacturer in New York entered the TAAF program in 2010. The firm had losses in sales and employment due to competition from China. A new website project generated a lot of interest among current customers and new potential customers. New customer quotes have increased 20 percent from the previous year. To date, both sales and employment have shown steady improvements and the firm completed all adjustment assistance in 2017.

Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NWTAAC)

An Idaho manufacturer of building vents that lost business to imports from China, Canada, and Mexico entered the TAAF program in 2010. A strategy was developed to improve product design and marketing. TAAF projects included product engineering and website development. The firm multiplied in size. By 2017, the firm had increased sales by 283 percent and employment by 102 percent with further gains in sales, employment, and productivity projected for the coming years.

A Washington manufacturer of wood windows that lost business to imports from Canada and China entered the TAAF program in 2012. A strategy was developed to focus on a niche market. TAAF technical assistance was employed for industry certification and website redesign. The company recovered and grew. In 2017, after six years of TAAF implementation, the firm had increased sales by 61 percent and increased employment by 36 percent. The firm expects continued gains in sales, employment, and productivity for the coming years.

Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (RMTAAC)

A North Dakota manufacturer of commercial furniture had suffered a 45 percent decline in sales and 19 percent decline in employment before entering the TAAF program in 2011. TAAF technical assistance was used to implement strategic marketing projects to reach developers of commercial properties and related furniture purchasing groups, as well as update the firm’s website and marketing materials. The firm exited the program in 2016 with sales nearly tripled and more than 45 jobs created.

A South Dakota manufacturer of precision machined aluminum components entered the TAAF program in 2012 after experiencing a 9 percent decline in sales due to increased Chinese import competition. The firm implemented a succession of lean manufacturing initiatives over the next five years that significantly increased the company’s production capacity, improved product quality, and reduced waste. Before completing the program in 2017, the firm’s sales had increased by more than 35 percent and employment increased by 21 percent with the addition of 30 jobs.

Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC)

An Alabama manufacturer of home décor was certified for TAAF at the end of 2013 when it was faced with declining sales to customers who favored purchasing imported products from China. Realizing a seven percent decline in sales and employment, the firm’s recovery strategy was to focus on redesigning its website and installing a computer network system. Since completing the program in 2015, the firm’s annual sales have increased over $3.1 million and they have added 32 employees.

A North Carolina manufacturer of furniture made from reclaimed wood was having difficulty remaining competitive against foreign imports. Experiencing a decline in sales of over 30 percent and an employment decline of 25 percent, the firm was certified for TAAF in 2015. With this assistance, the firm was able to launch a new website, implement a search optimization campaign, and improve their online design catalog. Since completing the program in 2017, the firm’s gross revenues have grown by 20 percent and have added two additional employees.

Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SWTAAC)

A Louisiana manufacturer of automotive glass, glazing and glass fabrication was being impacted by cheaper imports from China, South Korea, and Canada. Sales had declined by 22 percent and the company had laid off 10 percent of its skilled production workforce. The firm entered the TAAF program in March 2011 and completed all of their projects in the areas of marketing, management information systems and lean training. Employment has increased by seven percent and sales have increased by 200 percent. The firm exited the program in September 2016.

A Louisiana producer of high-quality seafood products was impacted by cheaper imports from China, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Sales had declined by 14 percent and the firm’s employment had declined by 33 percent. The firm entered the TAAF program in March 2011 and successfully completed all of its projects in the areas of marketing/sales tools, management information systems software implementation, and training. Since exiting the program in September 2015, employment has increased by 162 percent and sales have increased by 42 percent.

Western Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (WTAAC)

A California manufacturer of medical tubing and commercial hose and tubing was impacted by cheaper imports from China during 2013 to 2014. Domestic sales and employment decreased by six percent. The firm entered the TAAF program in 2015. Since receiving technical assistance, the firm has implemented four projects in information technology and production. Sales increased by 30 percent and employment increased by 11 percent.

A California firm is a school equipment producer of high quality visual display products. From 2010 through 2011 the firm suffered from import competition from China. Sales and employment decreased by 16 percent and five percent respectively. The firm entered the TAAF program in 2011. The firm implemented five marketing projects. Upon exiting the program in 2016, sales had increased by 10 percent and productivity had increased by 17 percent.

Tags: Manufacturing

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