What does dumping
The problem is
in our acceptance
of lower quality
Does foreign dumping of products into America involve selling
below cost or is it simply a matter
of design, material and craftsmanship?
Several large Asian furniture
manufacturers continue to be assessed
special tariffs for “dumping” bedroom furniture in America. The term
“dumping” seems to imply that these
companies are selling their products at
prices lower than the manufacturing
cost. We might imagine that a certain
category of Chinese manufacturers has
over-capacity problems or perhaps large
inventories of unsold merchandise that
it needs to “dump” on American shores.
Dumping doesn’t mean what it
seems to mean. Most of these companies have months of manufacturing
backlog. The company that I know best
within this category is well managed
and, I would guess, is also profitable.
I suspect that the actual basis of the
problem is in our acceptance of lower
quality standards. In some instances,
these companies are providing very
poor material and craftsmanship. I’ve
seen products arrive in our Pacific
ports that might once have been fit
only for our municipal dump sites. Are
the standards in our industry being
swamped in this tide of imports?
and inform their customers. The ranks
of furniture retailers stand as guardians
of trusting American consumers.
I have seen entire container loads of
furniture from Asia that were actually
dumped into landfills. My first experience was especially hard to forget. I still
remember the sight, smell and touch of
true world-class junk furniture.
Is there is profit in junk?
Selling low quality furniture for high
prices can be very profitable. Many of
our customers can’t discern products
that deserve to be “dumped.” It’s an
American marketing problem. We need
to educate our consumers. This educational process can only happen through
our industry intermediaries, the wholesalers and dealers who screen products
If it looks like junk . . .
It was 1999 in Orange County, Calif.
The first hint of trouble surfaced within
a few seconds after we unsealed the
container holding our first order from
an Indonesian factory. A particularly
hot California sun was beating down on
the corrugated metal storage building
where we met to see our samples. As
the seal was broken, a rancid odor blew
out from deep inside the tightly packed
steel container, filling the warehouse.
The sickening smell made us think
that someone had died trying to ship
themselves across the Pacific Ocean
inside our container. But there weren’t
any people inside. The smell came from
the packing skids and frames, which
had been cut from soft, undried, green
Southeast Asian lumber. The untreated
and undried lumber had begun to
decay in the tropical heat, turning ugly
shades of green with fuzzy mold. The
table bases were also improperly protected from the wood skids, so the leg
levelers had been jammed up into the
bases. Then there were also irregulari-ties on the finish, and other details of
fit and finish which completed a picture
of true, imported junk.
This container was promptly
dumped in a landfill before it could