Truly Sad! State of Manufacturing in the USA Epitomized at Shelby Industries


“Closed my 34yr factory this week. Shelby Industries”, the owner of Shelby wrote on reddit, “once employed 110. China selling 20% below my material costs! Buy American….it matters!”

The announcement read:

Shelby Industries, LLC, closed its doors Tuesday after 34 years of operation. Founded in 1982, company engineered, manufactured and marketed Shelby brand trailer couplers, trailer jacks and mechanical winches for over a generation. Shelby also offered contract manufacturing to companies in the Kentucky and Southern Indiana region. Employees, customers and suppliers were all informed of the closure Tuesday, the company said. The company currently employed 30, but at its peak, Shelby employed over 110 associates. Shelby said for current employees advance arrangements were made to interview for positions with area companies. In recent years, the company said it had witnessed significant market erosion as foreign competition provided equivalent product 20 to 25 percent below its material costs. Recent efforts to modernize the facility and diversify revenue streams through contract manufacturing services have not proved enough to enable the firm to outperform market forces in the present economy. “On behalf of my family, I want our community and anyone ever connected with Shelby to know how thankful we are for their valuable years of service, support and encouragement,” said CEO Vivek Sarin. “To all of our employees, both past and present, no words can capture the gratitude that we feel for your dedication, your service and your hard work over the years. To our supplier partners, we appreciate your years of exceptional service and will miss the dynamics of manufacturing and working with you. Finally, to our industries and the community, we are indebted for the years of support, recognition and opportunities to serve you and give back. Shelbyville, Ky. is a wonderful location to conduct business and we encourage our neighbor businesses to invest deeply in this community and its people.” In coordination with Shelby’s bank, efforts are underway to facilitate the sale of all equipment and product line assets.

One reddit commenter wrote: My family used to buy lots of shelby trailer parts before we sold our shipyard. China cause aluminium prices to sky rocket in the 90s and the curency manipulation makes [sic] material costs ridiculous [sic].

Another added this: worked for Alcoa…they are shutting down all or their aluminum smelters in the States due to Chinese dumpling of metal though a trade loop hole. World market aluminum prices took a dive and they have built literally hundreds of new smelters in China. I believe there are three smelters left in the States running all owed by Century Aluminum.

Americans want lower prices and some jobs will never come back because we just can’t make them as cheaply. There was a time when we cared about China’s use of slave labor, their unwillingness to engage in reciprocal trade, and their currency manipulation.

There was a time when a manufacturer with a vision was supported by government with a system that worked according to market forces instead of manipulation.

One person wrote: That has been Trump’s point since day one: we write laws to protect our workers, our currency, the consumers, and the environment–but then we agree to free trade with China who does none of these things. They devalue their currency, suppress workers’ rights, pollute to the point of making their cities toxic atmospheres, all just to get every bit of capital flowing in.

The Chinese also don’t deal with patent costs and quality control.

You can’t make things here because we’ve priced and negotiated ourselves out of the market. What is left of manufacturing here are things that are unfeasible to import, one person wrote.

We also don’t write trade deals that give us equal rights to sell goods in their countries. Shelby can’t sell in China. Let’s not forget the regulations that keep entrepreneurs in the US out of the market unless they have wads of cash and a lot of expertise in navigating the system.

What do you think can be done? The only one who is even talking about doing something different is Donald Trump.