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Kent CEO says tariffs discourage US bike manufacturing and assembly

Published August 21, 2018
Arnold Kamler plans to speak on behalf of his company and the new 'Reshoring Bicycle Production Team.'

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (BRAIN) — Arnold Kamler, the CEO and chairman of Kent International, plans to testify in Washington this week against proposed tariffs and on behalf of Kent and a newly formed entity, the Reshoring Bicycle Production Team. 

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Kamler told BRAIN he planned to speak in opposition to all the proposed 25 percent tariffs on bicycle products, contained in a list of $200 billion worth of Chinese products. The bike-related items include complete bikes and most parts and accessories, including frames, wheels and other parts. 

"I want to help people who make bicycles here," Kamler said. 

Kent is primarily an importer of department store bikes, but also operates a bike manufacturing facility in Manning, South Carolina, which assembled about 300,000 bikes last year, using imported and domestic parts. Kent plans to begin assembling bikes for the IBD market there this fall; those bikes will be sold under the Univega brand. 

"We are against all the tariffs, but we feel that manufacturing here should be encouraged, and these tariffs penalize us unfairly and actually discourage U.S. manufacturing and companies that want to invest here and employ people here to make bikes," Kamler told BRAIN. 

Kamler had initially requested to speak to Section 301 Committee on behalf of Kent and PeopleForBikes, but last Wednesday he submitted a new request, saying that he would appear on behalf of Kent and the reshoring group, which apparently has no other members. Kamler changed the submission because the USTR decided to limit testimony to one speaker per organization.

Kamler has been outspoken in criticizing the tariffs, starting with the steel and aluminum tariffs that took effect in March. At the time, Kamler said the move put on hold a planned factory expansion, which would have resulted in 60-80 new jobs in the South Carolina plant. 

Also expected to speak this week are executives from Huffy, Trek and WTB — who have each asked to speak on their respective companies' behalf. Representatives from Specialized, QBP, ASE and Bell Helmets testified Monday.

Topics associated with this article: Trade/tariffs

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