01.21.16

SCHUMER: FEDS ARE CURRENTLY LISTING FLATWARE & OTHER PRODUCTS MADE BY COMPANIES AS “AMERICAN-MADE” WHEN THEY ARE ACTUALLY PRODUCED OVERSEAS, PUTTING COMPANIES THAT MANUFACTURE IN U.S., LIKE SHERRILL MANUFACTURING IN CENTRAL NY, AT A DISADVANTAGE – SENATOR PUSHES FEDS TO REVIEW “MADE IN AMERICA” LISTINGS & IMMEDIATELY REMOVE COMPANIES THAT ARE FALSELY LISTED

Federal GSA Advantage Program Allows Qualifying U.S. Companies To Sell Products To Fed Agencies Through Its Website – With Many Fed Agencies Looking To Meet American-Made Requirements, Opportunity Is Ripe For Businesses Like Sherrill, Located In Oneida County & The Last USA Flatware Manufacturer

But Schumer Says GSA Advantage Currently Lists Products From Companies That Outsource Flatware Production Overseas As “American-Made,” Which Misleads Buyers & Puts Sherrill Manufacturing At A Competitive Disadvantage – Schumer Urges GSA To Investigate False Listings & Remove Them From Website

Schumer To Feds: Fix This Mistake Before It Threatens American Companies & Jobs

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today urged the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) to conduct a thorough review of the “Made in America” notations on its GSA Advantage website. Schumer explained that the GSA Advantage is an online government purchasing service that allows federal agencies, as well as many state and local governments, to purchase products from various suppliers through its website. Sherrill Manufacturing in Oneida County is one of these suppliers, and the company sells the last remaining brand of American-made flatware – called Liberty Tabletop – to government agencies through this site. However, Schumer explained the GSA Advantage website currently lists several other flatware manufacturers’ products as “Made in America” when they are actually produced overseas. Schumer said this is not only misleading to agencies and other customers looking to invest in companies producing American-made goods, but it is also putting companies like Sherrill at a competitive disadvantage. Schumer therefore urged the GSA to complete a review of its “USA-made” website labels in order to immediately remove those companies that are falsely listed.

“Incorrectly labeling products as ‘Made in America’ is not only misleading to customers wishing to buy American, but doing so also hurts those businesses, like Sherrill Manufacturing, that have continued making their products here despite the tempting lower costs of outsourcing production overseas,” said Schumer. “Many customers want to support U.S. industries by purchasing American-made products, and many federal agency customers even have USA-made requirements, but they can’t properly purchase these products if they are unwittingly buying mislabeled goods that were actually made overseas. It is critical that GSA get to the bottom of this mislabeling and correct it right away – before this mistake takes a toll on American businesses and jobs.”

Schumer explained that Sherrill Manufacturing launched its own brand, Liberty Tabletop, and adopted a business model focused around promoting the uniqueness of the company’s high quality, American-made flatware. In fact, according to the Post Standard, its product is currently the only American-made flatware left; all other flatware companies currently produce their products overseas. For this reason, Schumer explained there is an increased cost that comes with sourcing materials and manufacturing such a product within the U.S., as it is typically cheaper to produce in other countries. As a result, Schumer said it is unfair to Sherrill – as well as other companies that could be facing similar labeling issues across other industries – that other companies could be receiving this “Made in America” notation when they do not produce in the U.S.

Schumer said this is problematic because many of the federal agencies that purchase products through the GSA Advantage program do so because they are interested in buying American-made products or, in some cases, even have agency requirements to do so. Schumer said mistakenly labeling foreign manufacturers as “Made in America” could therefore put Sherrill at a competitive disadvantage if other companies are reaping these “USA-made” benefits when Sherrill is actually the only company currently incurring more costs to continue producing its flatware products in the U.S. According to a New York Times October 2015 report, a few big customers – namely, the U.S. military – are the primary customers and profit-drivers for Sherrill Manufacturing. According to the report, the federal government orders around 500,000 utensils a year from Sherrill. This flatware is the sent to bases around the world; Schumer said this further highlights just how important these government contracts and purchases through services like GSA Advantage are to the Oneida County-based company.

Schumer therefore said it is clear the GSA can and should be doing a better job of accounting for what is really “Made in America” and what is not in order to accurately categorize the products on its website for customers. That is why Schumer is urging the GSA to closely review the companies it has given this “Made in America” label and then immediately remove those that are noted as such and are not in fact made in the U.S. Schumer said this is particularly important for Sherrill Manufacturing, as the company is finally seeing a positive turn in profits after successfully emerging from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process it underwent in 2013. Schumer explained that Sherrill Manufacturing has resisted moving its manufacturing operation overseas, at a time when most other flatware manufacturers have relocated. At present, Sherrill Manufacturing conducts roughly $800,000 worth of business with the GSA. The company employs 40 workers and Schumer said these local jobs are critical to both the company and Oneida residents.

A copy of Schumer’s letter to the GSA appears below:

Dear Administrator Roth:

I write to urge you to conduct a review and remove the “Made in America” notation from flatware products listed on the US General Services Administration (GSA) Advantage website that are not actually American-made.

Sherrill Manufacturing, which has launched its own brand, Liberty Tabletop, has adopted a business model that includes promoting the uniqueness of the company’s high quality, American-made flatware. The company’s products are listed on the GSA Advantage website with the label “Made in: United States of America.” It has come to my attention, however that the GSA Advantage website lists several other flatware manufacturers’ products as “Made in America” even though they are not; in fact, some of those manufacturers do not even label the products as “Made in America” on their own company websites.

I urge you to examine the flatware that is listed as “Made in America” on the GSA Advantage website, and remove the products that do not belong on that list. GSA should conduct a timely and thorough review of the list of American-made flatware on the GSA Advantage website, because improperly labeled products could have an impact on the business of companies that do manufacture their products in America, like Liberty Tabletop. Many federal agencies and consumers wish to support US businesses by buying American-made products; if they are searching for American-made flatware options on the GSA Advantage website, they may be misled. A thorough review of the list, and removal of the flatware products that are not actually American-made, would promote the companies, like Liberty, that actually manufacture their products in America, and ensure that consumers shopping for American-made products are not misinformed.

Thank you in advance for your consideration of this request. Should you have any additional questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

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