No Sleep for the Weary: USITC Will Hear Leggett & Platt Anti-Dumping Petition

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One of our men on the ground in China left a message on my cell phone Sunday night, “Lisa I have to discuss a US import issue with you.” Hmm I thought, it seemed a little dire. I wondered what this was going to be about. I awoke to an urgent email, “As you know, there is a large spring company called L&P (as in Leggett & Platt)¦they are prosecuting spring factories which are located in China, South Africa and Vietnam. I hope we can get more information about anti-dumping duty etc. from you¦please come back to me as soon as you can.”

Sure enough, a quick Google search yielded a couple of mentions. Apparently the situation is as follows, according to Bed Times (I didn’t name it that trust me) Leggett & Platt filed an anti-dumping petition on December 31. In their petition they took a broad swipe at covering a range of innerspring products requesting, “that the term “uncovered innersprings” include both pocketed and non-pocketed innerspring units.” The petition goes on by suggesting the material harm incurred by the US innerspring industry is significant as the anti-dumping duties to be collected on these imports must be large enough to “offset the amount of the dumping, which the petition alleges can exceed 100%.”

L&P has pulled out all of the public relations stops. They are claiming that the US innerspring industry has been harmed. The sad news is that the USITC (US International Trade Commission) voted on Friday of last week to hear the case.

Innersprings by way of reference are made of steel wire. I have a few photos but didn’t manage to upload them properly so that will have to wait until our next post.

Now to disclose my background, our firm, Aptium Global worked with a US mattress manufacturer on a China import project for mattress innersprings. We were paid by the US mattress manufacturer for our services. We are no longer involved in this project or taking any fees for having worked on this project.

I believe this anti-dumping case is totally and completely without merit.

First, ask yourself how could three countries, China, South Africa and Vietnam all be dumping at the same time? Doesn’t that alone indicate that the US market is woefully uncompetitive if imports are coming in from three separate countries?

Second, the US innerspring market is fairly concentrated¦meaning a small handful of suppliers have the lion’s share of the entire US market. One of these suppliers is Leggett & Platt. Are they not just interested in saving their oligopoly? Furthermore, in my opinion, and according to what I have heard from those in the US mattress industry, L&P’s quality leaves a little to be desired. It’s no wonder then that imports have eaten into their market share.

Third, and let me share some of our sourcing strategies with you on this category. These sources of supply are able to offer their products more competitively for a number of reasons including the fact that there is still a good deal of labor content in every innerspring. In addition, the price for steel wire is not the same throughout the world. Companies have been trading semi-finished metal products globally for centuries because of price arbitrage opportunities. So it is not surprising that other countries can offer innersprings more competitively on the basis of both the raw material costs and the labor.

Last, with limited competition on the domestic front, US producers are able to charge a premium for their innersprings. Now who wouldn’t fight for that?

Watch this space for updates on this story.

–Lisa Reisman

Comments (11)

  1. Dennis Aere says:

    If you hear any more regarding the outcome of the anitdumping, please let me know. I have been importing springs into canada for the past few years and was just starting to look south for new business, and now this comes up. Thanks

    Dennis

  2. admin says:

    We definitely plan on posting updates on this case. The USITC is to make its initial ruling in early June off this year. LAR

  3. Scott says:

    I’m a mattress manufacturer and have recently been shut off by my spring supplier, he purchased springs in China. I will have no choice but to purchase from L&P. I also heard that this is happening elsewhere. L&P also just had a double digit price increase!!!! Any new information on this would be great.
    Thanks

  4. admin says:

    Hi Scott. Try Spiller Spring, I understand they might be more competitive and the quality is good. As for this anti-dumping case, we plan to publish monthly updates. If you receive any additional information from your suppliers, please feel free to share it with us. In the meantime, we plan on talking to our customs expert to get their perspective on the case. We’ll cover this until the end. Best of luck to you! LAR

  5. Larry says:

    Hello Lisa,
    I have been a factory direct mattress manufacturer in Phoenix for the past 35 years. Here is what the anti-dumping lawsuit is doing to the mattress industry at the ground level. Importers of spring feel that should Leggett & Platt win the lawsuit the duties will be imposed retro-active to the date the USITC voted to move forward. I’m not sure of the date but believe it to be either Feb 12th or 22nd. Importers have chosen to stop selling springs because they don’t know what they can sell them at in order to cover ,as yet ,undetermined import duties. This is crippling to the entire industry of small manufaturers who are dependent on imported springs to compete with the major mattress manufacturers, who get superior discounts from Leggett & Platt. Do you have any suggestions as to how we can make our voices heard before this suit is won by default? Time is of the essence and is too valuable be spent on jousting at windmills.
    Larry

  6. admin says:

    Thanks for your comments. Your case is additional evidence of the material harm that L&P’s actions are bringing to small American manufacturers. The law firm that is handling the case for importers is Troutman & Sanders. I’m not sure which office though clearly we need to write an update piece to this story. I don’t want to out-scoop an affiliate blog but over on http://www.spendmatters.com, there will be another piece on this case, in the coming days. In short answer to your suggestion on making your voice heard, tactically speaking, the more comments, discussion and folks that are writing, talking about this, the better. I’ll aim for an update piece later this week/early next week. Thanks for your comments! LAR

  7. Dan says:

    Scott,

    You should contact Barber Mfg. Co. They produce mattress, and a lot of other products. They are a the last of the family owned bedding spring mfgs left in the US. The web site is http://www.barbermfg.com

  8. dave says:

    Not true Dan. Hickory Springs, the second largest mftr of mattress innersprings in US, is also a family owned business. With 65 locations across the country, they have both units and supplies to meet all your mattress needs.

    http://www.hickorysprings.com
    800-222-8523

    (fyi- Spiller Spring is one of their plants in Sheboygan, WI)

  9. C.E. ELLIOT says:

    RE; CHINA— SPRINGS ARE A BETTER
    PRODUCTS ,STRONGER…AND THEY MAKE A ,BETTER MATTRESS.. WHO IS BEING
    TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF—-THE
    AMERICAN PUBLIC– HIGHER PRICES,
    LOWER QUALITY

  10. Jeff says:

    Well now they hit Canada, with this anti-dumping. They are not making it easier up here either. We saw this coming from down south. Maybe thats why Imported Beds from China are increasing… Lets thank L&P for killing another industry in North America. Matteress were one of the only domestically produces goods left. Why not target finished beds?

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