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

October 2017


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.

Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Center (GLTAAC)

An 80-worker Indiana precision machining company was hit hard by the 2008-2009 recession and strong, persistent foreign competition. GLTAAC developed the client’s Adjustment Proposal in 2010, focused on filling open capacity, rebuilding sales, market diversification, and improving both manufacturing and non-manufacturing systems. When the firm exited the program at the end of 2015, they had completed nine cost-shared projects. With an 80 percent sales increase, the company is once again profitable, exports have grown significantly, and it has added 15 jobs.

A $25 million Ohio manufacturer of hardwood products was losing business to low cost imports from Canada and China. The company’s Adjustment Proposal was approved in 2012, focusing on development and implementation of a comprehensive new marketing and sales plan, improving Enterprise Resource Planning and Customer Resource Management systems (including employee training), and initiation of Lean Six-Sigma practices. The firm exited TAAF in 2016 with impressive results: a 50 percent sales increase, improved productivity, a return to profitability, and the addition of more than 30 jobs. The firm is now fully recovered from the negative import impacts it was facing prior to engagement with the TAAF program.

Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MamTAAC)

When a Missouri manufacturer of awnings and banners entered the TAAF program in 2010, the company had experienced a 36 percent drop in sales and laid off a substantial portion of its workforce due to cheap import competition. TAAF funds assisted with a wage analysis, workforce and management training, marketing and sales improvements, upgrading software systems, and ISO certification. The firm exited the TAAF program in 2014. Since participating in the program, the company’s annual sales have increased 120 percent and employment has increased 81 percent.

A Kansas manufacturer of agriculture products for tilling and harvesting crops entered the TAAF program in 2009 and completed the TAAF program in 2014. In an effort to improve the quality and capacity of their harvesting products, the company used TAAF funds for marketing projects and research and development projects including the prototype development of two new products. Between the time of entrance to completion of the TAAF program, sales increased from $16 million to $24 million and the company hired eight new employees.

MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MATAAC)

A Pennsylvania maker of wood products and furniture entered the TAAF program in 2011 after sales decreased by six percent, jobs decreased by 12 percent, and earnings had decreased by 155 percent. With TAAF assistance, the firm implemented 19 knowledge-based projects in Management Information System, Managerial Finance, Human Resources, and Product Design. Results included a 60 percent increase in sales, a 56 percent increase in jobs, a 134 percent increase in profits, and a three percent improvement in productivity. The firm completed the program in 2016.

A textile manufacturer in Maryland entered the TAAF program in 2015 after sales had declined 17 percent, jobs decreased by 24 percent and earnings dropped to a loss of half a million dollars at the bottom line. Nine knowledge-based projects covering Managerial Finance, Information Technology, Branding and Marketing and Website development are currently being implemented. Results so far include 24 percent sales growth, two percent job growth, 184 percent profit growth and a 22 percent increase in productivity.

Midwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (MWTAAC)

An Illinois-based furniture manufacturer was having product designs copied and sold for less than half the cost by firms located in Asia. Both sales and employment dropped by nearly 50 percent in a short period, which was further exacerbated by the recession. The firm entered the TAAF program in 2010. The MWTAAC provided technical assistance focusing on new product development. TAAF assistance was used to brand and market the new products in both domestic and export markets. The results were a 13 percent increase in sales and the addition of new employees. The firm exited the program in 2016.

A Wisconsin-based manufacturer of industrial and machine control panels had its products copied and sold for nearly half the cost by competitors based in China. Sales had declined by 33 percent and the firm had laid off nearly 22 percent of its skilled production workers prior to entry into the TAAF program in 2010. The program provided technical assistance with product development, inventory management, lean methodology, and marketing. As a result, the firm has more than doubled employment and increased sales by nearly $7 million. The firm exited the program in 2016.

New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NETAAC)

A New Hampshire manufacturer of subassemblies for machining and fabrication entered the TAAF program in 2009 due to rising imports. Projects included website, plant layout, product flow study, software upgrade, project development, and ISO/AWS certification. Technology capabilities were expanded throughout, allowing the delivery of innovative new products into core markets. Program funding allowed focus on new technology, which led to the expansion of markets. When the firm completed the program in 2012, sales had increased from $9 million to over $13 million, and employment had increased by 37 percent.

A Massachusetts manufacturer of dust monitoring instrumentation for environmental and process control applications entered the TAAF program in 2010. Foreign competition decreased sales to $1.6 million. After program assistance, sales increased to $2.8 million, employment grew 66 percent and export sales to China, the UK, India and Canada significantly increased. Projects included marketing, product certifications and product redesign critical for increasing exports.

Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NWTAAC)

A Washington manufacturer of wheelchair positioning products that lost business to imports from China and Mexico entered the TAAF program in 2013. The firm developed a strategy to improve operations. TAAF technical assistance was employed for market research, promotional implementation, succession planning, website revision, and manufacturing process improvements. The firm’s sales increased in each year of implementation. At the conclusion of three years of TAAF implementation in 2016, the firm had increased sales and employment by 16 percent with gains in sales and productivity projected for the coming years.

An Oregon manufacturer of electric grills that had experienced a decline in business due to imports from China entered the TAAF program in 2009. The firm’s recovery strategy focused on new products and new targeted markets. TAAF technical assistance was employed to understand target markets and to implement aspects of its marketing program. The company increased sales in every year of TAAF implementation. At the conclusion of five years of TAAF implementation, the company had increased sales by 241 percent and increased employment by 140 percent with a sharp rise in productivity.

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

A New York wind-controlled musical instrument manufacturer entered the TAAF program in 2012. At the time the firm entered the program, it had total sales of only $700 and employed two individuals. After technical assistance provided by the NYNJPRTAAC, the firm is now reporting annual sales in excess of $100,000 and employment is now three. The firm recently completed all of the projects in its Adjustment Proposal.

A New Jersey manufacturer of scenery and specialty fabrications for theater, television, special events and themed environments entered the TAAF program. At the time the firm entered the program, its annual sales had declined by over 12 percent to $10.7 million and employment had dropped nearly 21 percent to an average of 84 employees. The Adjustment Proposal called for an upgrade to the firm’s support systems, most notably Material Requirements Planning and Manufacturing Computer Numerical Control. Early success has led the firm to bid on projects that previously would not have been possible due to cost. Phase one of the support system improvements was completed in August 2016.

Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (RMTAAC)

A Colorado aerospace component manufacturer struggling with low-cost foreign competition from China entered the TAAF Program in 2010. The firm’s sales had declined by 31 percent and employment had dropped by 47 percent. Projects were undertaken to significantly streamline production and improve efficiency over the next four years before the company completed the program in 2015. The firm’s competitive position improved dramatically over this timeframe, resulting in a 54 percent increase in sales and a 52 percent increase in employment. The firm moved to a larger facility for future growth.

A North Dakota manufacturer of fabricated steel products entered the TAAF program in 2011 after suffering a 12 percent decline in sales and seven percent decline in employment due to increased Chinese imports. RMTAAC helped the firm develop a comprehensive marketing plan with a re-branding strategy aimed at integrating the company’s diverse business units under a single platform. As a result, increased cross-selling opportunities among business units helped boost the firm’s sales by 32 percent. The firm added 250 employees to meet increased demand before exiting the program in 2016.

Southeastern Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SETAAC)

A North Carolina manufacturer of amplifier cabinets opened in 2000 and experienced steady growth for 13 years. However, feeling the effects of import competition, the firm entered the TAAF program in 2013 and was able update its website to improve consumer usability, make improvements to manufacturing processes, as well as ISO9000 training and certification. When the firm completed the program in 2016, annual sales had increased by over $400,000, and it was able to rehire/add 29 employees.

A Tennessee firm with over 30 years of manufacturing multilayer co-fired electronic packages turned to SETAAC for assistance when it started experiencing stiff import competition and lost more than $1,000,000 in sales over a 24-month period. The firm received $75,000 worth of technical assistance through the TAAF program in 2013, helping the firm to obtain its AS9100 quality control certification and update its website to improve consumer usability. Upon completion of the program in 2016, the firm had increased its annual sales by over $3,000,000 and had added 39 full-time employees.

Southwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (SWTAAC)

A Louisiana manufacturer of hand-crafted gas and electric lanterns was being impacted by cheaper imports from China, Mexico, and Canada. Sales had declined by 13 percent and the company had laid off five percent of its skilled production workforce. The firm entered the TAAF program in February 2010 and successfully completed all of its projects in the area of marketing. Employment has increased by 15 percent and sales have increased by 244 percent. The firm exited the program in September 2015.

A Texas manufacturer of active sportswear was encountering competition from imports because of cheaper prices from China, India, Indonesia, and Pakistan. Its sales had declined 18 percent, and its workforce had been reduced by 10 percent before it entered the TAAF program in July 2012. To date, the firm has successfully completed some of its Adjustment Proposal projects and is working to complete more. Already, employment has increased by 45 percent and sales have increased 68 percent.

Western Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (WTAAC)

A California manufacturer specializing in designed architectural glass and glass surfacing was facing stiff important competition and turned to the TAAF program for assistance in 2015. At the time, annual sales had decreased 53 percent to under $870,000 and employment had decreased by 19 percent to 13 employees. Since receiving marketing technical assistance through the TAAF program, sales have increased by over 500 percent and employment has increased 138 percent to 31 employees.

A California manufacturer that designs, tests, and markets a highly specialized line of arc and flame resistant safety apparel and equipment faced negative impact from foreign goods. Due to lower-cost imports, sales decreased 26 percent and employment decreased seven percent. The firm entered the TAAF program in 2013. Through TAAF-supported marketing and information technology technical assistance, sales have increased 99 percent to $3 million, employment has increased by 27 percent to 14 employees and exports have increased from three percent of sales to 44 percent.

Tags: Trade/Trade Adjustment Assistance