The owner of one of the United States largest bicycle manufacturing operations opened up to the Washington Post that he'd love to add more employees to his workforce to meet demand, but Donald Trump's trade war with China is crippling his business.
Speaking with the Post's Sophia Nguyen, Arnold Kamler, chairman, and CEO of Kent International, Inc., based in Parsippany, New Jersey agreed to an op-ed piece entitled: "I employ hundreds of American workers. I’d hire more if not for Trump’s tariffs."
According to Kamler, his costs for parts that come out of China have skyrocketed making it hard to keep the price of his bikes down and bringing on more help.
Stating, "Kent International, Inc. is one of the largest suppliers of imported and American-made bicycles in the country," Kamler further explained, "Over the generations, we’ve weathered all kinds of turns in the industry. But we’ve never dealt with anything like this: heavy tariffs on key commodities, announced with barely any notice. "
According to the businessman, " our factory is responsible for more than half of the roughly 500,000 bicycles produced in the United States each year. Before President Trump’s trade war, we had plans to grow even further."
"My company specializes in providing affordable bicycles, retailing for between $80 and $200 at outlets including Walmart, Amazon, and Academy Sports and Outdoors," he added. "The new tariff raised our overall costs by 7.5 percent, which we were forced to pass on to our customers and, ultimately, to American consumers. Because it typically takes several months for large retailers to accept a price increase, we couldn’t offset our extra costs for much of our busiest shipping season, in late fall. When the holidays arrived, consumers were put off by the higher prices. Sales dropped, ending up 5 to 10 percent lower than our projections."
According to Kamler, Trump's latest plan to add more tariffs -- causing trade talks to fall apart -- is further hurting his business and keeping him from more than doubling his workforce.
"The volatility caused by the trade war has thrown a wrench in my company’s domestic ambitions," admitted, "Ever since our factory opened, I had planned to bring more phases of the manufacturing process home. We’d start by importing steel tubes and welding the bike frames ourselves; from there, we’d buy American steel and make the tubes. Our factory employs 125 people, but that could grow to 300, I thought."
"We don’t plan to lay anyone off, but until the situation stabilizes and we have some clarity about our future, we’ll just continue buying bike frames from China," he lamented before taking a shot at Trump once again.
"Despite the president’s promises that he would help American companies grow, his sanctions are hurting us badly," he stated. "These measures punish American businesses that have done nothing wrong. We play by the rules. Why does this administration keep changing them?"
You can read the whole piece here.