Marty Davis thinks President Donald Trump has “done more that’s right for trade in America than any president since World War II.” Davis, a Minnesotan and member of one of the country’s richest families, once worked on his family’s massive dairy farm. Now, he runs Cambria, a producer of quartz used in countertops and other surfaces. His battle against Chinese competitors who dumped hundreds of millions of dollars worth of government-subsidized quartz slabs into the U.S. market from 2010-2018 made him a true believer in Trump’s tariffs on some imports. Davis said the Chinese offered finished quartz at prices below the cost of his raw material.
He calls Trump “courageous, intelligent and right” on trade issues. China is engaged in “global economic warfare,” Davis believes. If they win, he said, “their power is greater than that of the military.” Davis said “fake” low prices set by foreign government subsidies have lured U.S. corporate executives and consumers alike. But the homegrown multimillionaire believes that if the U.S. does not push back with trade sanctions, the cost of short-term bargains could be the extinction of the country’s middle-income manufacturing workers. Q: You said you were willing to compete with any company, but you couldn’t compete with a government. What did you mean?
A: Competing with a product out of China, our factory workers or sales representatives have to compete against sales representatives or factory workers funded by a country’s treasury. That’s an impossible circumstance to achieve success.
Q: You got the U.S. government to place anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese quartz. What set you off?
A: Our most loyal dealers were saying they can’t remain loyal to our brand as a result of these ungodly low-priced products coming out of China. I never understood that [Chinese companies] were so state-fueled and state-owned. It was funding of raw materials. It was subsidy of infrastructure, of factory equipment, everything. They slowly eroded the marketplace for us and other U.S. competitors. In addition to all of that, they copied our [intellectual property].We were going to add two lines of production. Because of the dumping, we shut down that expansion. We put it on pause. That would have been an investment of $150 million in fixed assets, and we would have expanded the factory by some 250 to 300 people.