Brinly-Hardy Company manufactures lawn care products and equipment. The company’s history in the United States dates all the way back to 1800 when “Little John Brinly” created plows in his downtime. Mr. James Edward Hardy joined the firm in 1863. Now, Jane Hardy is a fifth-generation president.
The company has survived many recessions and several wars, but there is a possibility that it will not survive the current tariff war. In testimony before the U.S. Trade Representative, a Brinly-Hardy representative explained that even though the firm purchases its steel domestically, their costs have gone up because U.S. steel producers have increased their prices by 37 percent, an opportunity afforded to steel producers due to the protective tariffs on imported steel.
Small- and medium-sized enterprises like Brinly-Hardy Company are particularly vulnerable to the price increases because they cannot absorb the added costs or relocate overseas. Jane Hardy knows if she raises the costs of her products, the company will be undercut and unable to compete with foreign products. She says her firm “should not be considered acceptable collateral damage.”
Since February, she has had to lay off 75 employees, many of whom have worked for the firm for over 20 years. The company’s website states, “We believe Brinly people are a special breed. They care about the company they work for, the products they make, and the service they give.” Hardy hopes that the tariffs will be withdrawn before Thanksgiving.
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Christine McDaniel a former senior economist with the White House Council of Economic Advisers and deputy assistant Treasury secretary for economic policy, is a senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.