MECHANIC FALLS — Auburn Manufacturing CEO Kathie Leonard on Tuesday celebrated a recent anti-dumping ruling against Chinese imports, saying she hoped the new penalties come in time for her company to recover.

This past January, Auburn Manufacturing filed a complaint asking the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission to intervene in Chinese imports of amorphous silica fabric, saying the costs were unfairly low.

Auburn Manufacturing is the largest U.S. producer of industrial-grade amorphous silica fabric, which is used to insulate and resist extreme heat, according to the company.

Leonard said the company spent six months with a team of three lawyers and two economists building a case that the imports had hurt its business.

“We actually had determined we lost about 30 percent of our U.S. business for this particular product line (over three years),” Leonard said. “We’re down 20 percent in terms of workforce. We’ve been injured quite a bit and it’s gotten worse over the past year.”

The company is down from 50 to 41 workers after six layoffs in the past month. The other lost jobs were openings left unfilled.


“That’s the first layoff we’ve ever had for lack of work,” she said. “It was a real sad day for Auburn Manufacturing. It was what we had to do. It was mainly because of this product, the silica fabrics.”

The Department of Commerce made a preliminary determination last week that the imports were unfair, triggering an anti-dumping duty of 162 percent in addition to a new countervailing duty between 4 and 104 percent. 

The duties kick in now and reach back to shipments since June 2016.

“That means that for every yard that’s brought in, let’s say it’s at $10 a yard, the duty will be at least an extra $16 added, so essentially the goods went from costing $10 to $26 and that is going to help us a lot,” Leonard said.

All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation have been helpful throughout the process, she said.

“Hopefully, by getting this win right now, we may have caught this early enough that we can recover from it,” she said. “I’m an optimist and we’ll probably do fine; I wouldn’t expect a landslide victory. I think it’s going to take some time.”

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