Southeast Asia Under Scrutiny from American Kitchen Cabinet Makers


It’s not easy being a kitchen cabinet manufacturer. Without the help of anti-dumping and other duties imposed on Chinese companies, they’d probably have gone the way of the pterodactyl by now, or at least be as hard to spot in the wild as a flying fish.  The industry has recovered over the years thanks to winning Commerce Department and International Trade Commission investigations into product dumping by Chinese companies. A Customs investigation prompted by the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA) suggests Southeast Asian exporters of kitchen and bath cabinetry and vanities are picking up where the mainland Chinese left off.

The original petition on behalf of more than 50 local manufacturers was first filed by the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance. That alliance is controlled by KCMA.

KCMA’s president, Jeff Gulledge, said that they have been seeing a rise in shipments from Chinese cabinet makers being repackaged and shipped to the U.S. via Malaysia and Vietnam. This has been an investigation for at least a year and a half. It may be bearing some fruit. If so, Commerce will decide what to do about dumping duties against new players in this market, spread out throughout Southeast Asia.

“These transshipments undermine the effectiveness of existing anti-dumping duties,” Gulledge said. Gulledge also runs Bishop Cabinets in Montgomery, Alabama.

The Department of Commerce is currently conducting a scope review of the AD/CVD cabinet duties. KCMA is mainly asking Commerce to insert into the final scope ruling a certification process to ensure products that fall under the AD/CVD findings from before are entering into the U.S. legally. This has been standard practice in past final scope rulings on many imported products.

“The certification process will monitor companies in Malaysia and Vietnam sending products here, to ensure they play by the rules. This will ensure that all cabinets and component products flowing through these two countries are manufactured there and not in China,” Gulledge said. “This process will allow us to create a chain of custody that monitors the cheating and protects American manufacturing,” he said.

Having a certification program in place will allow legitimate producers in Southeast Asia to ship in scope products, or listed products covered by anti dumping duties, that were really made in Vietnam and Malaysia.  But it will also impose tariffs on importers that are shipping products into the U.S. that originated from China in order to avoid tariffs caused by the anti-dumping case.

The Alliance members are saying they can compete with certified players.

Another industry harmed by unfair trade practices.

On March 17, 2023, the Commerce issued a preliminary affirmative scope ruling with respect to wooden cabinets, vanities and other items (or scopes). Commerce found that there was insufficient information to decide on some product types and gave all interested parties an opportunity to provide additional information on the factors relevant to how the goods were made – mainly, whether or not they were just assembled of Chinese made parts and maybe painted and packaged in a box and shipped abroad.

However, as part of the preliminary investigation, Commerce did find that the cabinet and cabinets components coming from Malaysia and Vietnam “were not substantially transformed”, meaning the bulk of the making of those products occurred in China.

The Alliance had first won on this issue in January of 2023 after successfully accusing a company called Scioto Valley Woodworking of transshipment of China goods subject to AD/CVDs via Malaysia in July 2022.

A final scope ruling is expected by January 26, 2024. 

“We believe in fair trade. What China was doing to the domestic cabinet industry is not fair trade,” Gulledge said.

 In 2019, the domestic cabinet industry was on the brink of collapse due to China’s foray into the market years prior. As it has done to the furniture making industry, China moved into American kitchens, a product they could not sell to the Chinese back home. There simply is no serious market for kitchen cabinetry in China, nothing comparable to what exists in American homes. Most Chinese live in high rise apartments or small villas. Only the rich have kitchens as cabinet heavy as the average American home. China’s industry was making goods for the U.S., first and foremost, and taking away market share from domestic suppliers even during a housing boom in the mid 2010s. By 2020, Chinese made cabinetry accounted for over 40% of the U.S. market. Cabinet companies joined together to form the American Kitchen Cabinet Alliance and filed a historic trade case in March 2019 against China, a victory that’s kept the industry alive, and growing along with the domestic housing market.

Kitchen cabinet manufacturing companies employ around 250,000 workers nationwide. More than 40% of the workforce are members of underserved communities, in blue collar towns in Alabama and elsewhere.

Kitchen & Bath AD/CVDs are Working

Since AD/CVDs have been imposed, Bishop Cabinets, Wellborn Cabinet, and many others have invested in expansion and hiring.

“We increased our workforce by over 20% (84 to 107 today) and invested over $1.25 million in new equipment and production software,” Gulledge said. “This industry has seen the benefits of the AC/CVD cabinet duties with new jobs and investments, for sure.”

Some growth stories include:

  • Bellmont Cabinets in Sumner, Washington signed a 10-year lease on a building to produce cabinets and will invest an additional $1 million in the local economy. 
  • Showplace Cabinetry in Harrisburg, South Dakota moved forward with a $3 million plant expansion and is creating new good paying jobs. 
  • Kountry Wood Products moved forward with a $14 million expansion in Nappanee, Indiana.
  • Kountry Kraft Cabinets expanded its operations in Newmanston, Pennsylvania. 
  • Wellborn Cabinet is investing $15 million to add at least 200 new jobs, a daycare expansion, and has built a large new facility in Ashland, Alabama. 
  • Bridgewood Custom Cabinetry in Chanute, Kansas has invested almost $7 million in new facilities and equipment and hired 500 new workers. 
  • Mullet Cabinet in Millersburg, Ohio has invested more than $5 million in new equipment, buildings, and transportation and hired 246 new workers. 
  • Crystal Cabinet Works in Princeton, Minn. has invested $8.2 million in new equipment, hired 320 new workers, opened a new health clinic for employees and dependents, and expanded its national training center.

Current anti dumping duties range from 4.37% to 262.18%, and countervailing duties are even higher – from 13.33% to 293.45%. The five year sunset review of those duties will be conducted next year, in 2025. 

“All we are asking for is to stop the circumvention of the AD/CVD orders,” Gulledge said about Chinese companies transhipping through Southeast Asia.

“A certification process will monitor companies in Malaysia and Vietnam that are sending products to the U.S. to ensure they play by the rules. This will ensure that all cabinets and component products flowing through these two countries are manufactured there and not in China,” he said, thinking that the U.S. can still compete with the low cost labor and weak currencies of Vietnam and Malaysia. “We can compete on a level playing field. And a certification process allows us to create a chain of custody that monitors the trade cheating and puts American manufacturing workers first.”

On Dec. 12, seven House Reps from Alabama sent a letter to Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in favor of the kitchen and bath manufacturing alliance’s suggestion of a certification process for exporters. “The future of this industry relies on AD/CVD duties to be enforced (to ensure that) the American cabinet industry can continue to compete now and into the future,” the letter stated. The Alabama representatives who signed the letter Barry Moore,Terri Sewell, Jerry Carl, Mike Rogers, Robert Aderholt, Dale Strong and Gary Palmer.


CPA is the leading national, bipartisan organization exclusively representing domestic producers and workers across many industries and sectors of the U.S. economy.

The latest CPA news and updates, delivered every Friday.


Get the latest in CPA news, industry analysis, opinion, and updates from Team CPA.