After roughly 9 ½ months of waiting, Mid Continent Nail Corporation in southeast Missouri’s Poplar Bluff has been granted federal exclusions that will allow the company to ramp up its production levels. The exemptions allow the company to not be tax an additional 25% for getting foreign steel from its own parent company in Mexico. According to spokesperson Elizabeth Heaton, the exclusions cover nearly 9/10 of the volume of imported steel that Mid Continent uses to make nails.
The additional tax on its own material has created a financial burden on the company. Since President Donald Trump’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum began last June, the factory’s manufacturing workforce has fallen from more than 500 to less than 300 and business declined almost immediately by about 75%.
Mid Continent is the largest U.S. nail manufacturer and the first company to announce layoffs as a result of the steel and aluminum tariffs.
Heaton says exemptions from Section 232 tariffs are rarely approved. In a letter to Secretary Wilbur Ross, Rep. Jackie Walorski, R-IN, noted that the two largest steelmakers prevailed in more than 95% of the cases in which they filed objections to exclusion requests. Those companies objected to Mid Continent’s requests.
Mid Continent says it showed that U.S. steelmakers could not provide the volume of raw material that the manufacturer required.
“This is a great day for our workers, our customers, for Southeast Missouri, and for U.S. manufacturing,” says Chris Pratt, operations general manager of Mid Continent. “We have been making nails all through the nine and a half months it took for our requests to be granted. We never gave up hope and neither did our fantastic employees and the great people of Southeast Missouri.”
In a press release from the company, Pratt says the exemptions allow it to move toward the growth path it was on before the tariffs went into effect.
The factory launched in 1987 and is one of the largest employers in Butler County and the second largest one in Poplar Bluff. Nine out of the state’s ten poorest counties are in southeast Missouri.
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