Asian, European, Canadian and Mexican mold makers are destroying the U.S. tool, die and industrial mold industry through dumping, according to an Akron tire mold maker.
Steve Zoumberakis, CEO of Quality Mold Inc., was one of more than a dozen mold manufacturers from around the U.S.-but the only tire mold maker-to testify before a May 21 meeting of the International Trade Commission. He told the ITC unfair import competition forced him to lay off more than half his employees and close a plant.
Zoumberakis was invited to appear before the commission in its investigation of how tool, die and industrial mold imports from China, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, Mexico and the European Union are affecting the U.S. industries. The probe started Dec. 21 at the request of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the agency must deliver its report to the committee by Oct. 21.
Zoumberakis has no doubt foreign competition has brought Quality Mold almost to the breaking point. "If they're bringing a mold over here for $20,000 and the steel in it alone costs $23,000, there's something wrong," he said.
"I've laid off more than 250 people, and I'm trying to save the jobs of the people I have left. I can't call in any more of my people to tell them they're fired. They're working harder already for less pay and smaller benefits."
Quality Mold now employs about 190 at its Akron headquarters and at branch operations in Greenwich, Ohio; Tyler, Texas; Mount Vernon, Ill.; and Queretaro, Mexico. Another factory, at Brantford, Ontario, closed Feb. 28.
"I could have closed down my Akron operations and kept the Brantford plant open," Zoumberakis said. "With the currency differential, I had 20 percent higher profits there. I closed down Brantford because I wanted to stay open here."
Several representatives of foreign tire mold makers in North America said they had not heard of the ITC investigation. "Our parent company is in France," said Guy Gosselin, engineering manager of SECM-GT N.A., a manufacturer of various types of rubber machinery in Magog, Quebec. "We've only just started to make molds here."