In reference to Richard Bollinger's letter Sept. 7 and Don Hoover's letter Sept. 16, both concerning the shutdown of American Standard, please note the following:
In 1964, when I was hired at the Tiffin plant, there were seven chinaware or pottery plants operating in the United States. By the late 1980s, five of seven plants were closed; i.e. American Standard management had a history of closing these labor-intensive plants and moving production overseas long before Bain Capital came on the scene. Also, in the 1980s, Bain Co., not Bain Capital partners, became American Standard's white knight to prevent a takeover bid from Black & Decker. Black & Decker wanted our distribution system to peddle its wares. If Black & Decker would have been the successful bidder, it probably would have sold or closed the remaining two plants, including Tiffin. For your information, the sixth plant in Trenton, N.J. was closed in January 2001. Romney left Bain in 1999.
It was mentioned that Bain Capital Partners acquired controlling interest in American Standard and shut down Tiffin. In December 2007, Sun Capital Partners of Boca Raton, Fla., was the majority stakeholder, not Bain Capital Partners. As far as I know, Bain still holds a minority interest. In 2007, the Tiffin plant was operating at approximately 30 percent capacity with 165 production associates and 35 salary associates. The plant was closed because of excess inventory in the United States caused by the subprime and foreclosure crisis and prolonged housing slump. Also, in 2007, production was cut back at five other plants in Latin and South America.
It was stated that Bain changed the name of the company to American Standard Americans in 2007 so it could sell foreign-made product as though the product was still being made in the U.S. In February 2008, American Standard Americans was formed from the merger of American Standard with two competitors, Eljer and Crane Plumbing. American Standard has been importing foreign product under the "American Standard" logo for years. In March 2008, American Standard Americans became American Standard Brands.
As far as Romney owning Staples, it is a publicly traded company. It is my understanding that Bain Capital Partners saved Staples from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. As of Sept. 23, Staples employs 51,000 people and has 3,000 retail outlets in 48 states. What does Romney consider as high-paying jobs? Romney plans to complete the Keystone pipeline, permit drilling for oil on federal lands and off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, promote drilling for natural gas, and rescind some FDA regulations on the coal industry. These are all high-paying jobs with outstanding benefits.
Instead of bashing Romney, Bain Capital and American Standard, we should be proud that this great American company is one of the global leaders in the kitchen and bath marketplace that still supports many jobs in America. When I retired in 2003, American Standard employed more than 60,000 people speaking 20 different languages in 50 countries.
If Bain Capital is so bad, why is the government in the process of hiring a private equity firm to save an obsolete refinery in Pennsylvania? I bet it is excused from following all the new FDA regulations. We can't let the price of gasoline go up before the election. Four years ago it was $1.84 per gallon, today it is $3.78 per gallon. This really helped the middle class, especially when their income has decreased by $4,000 per year.