His Company Makes Speakers. Now He’s Speaking Out, Opposing Tariffs – By Scott Horsley (NPR) / Dec 2 2019
The Misco speaker company in St. Paul, Minn., is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. But the company’s future is uncertain — a result of the trade war between the U.S. and China.
Dan Digre’s dad started Misco after serving in World War II.
“He was a B-17 radio operator and came back to the United States and married a woman with a bad radio,” Digre says. “Turned out the radio wasn’t bad but the speaker was bad, so he started his own speaker repair business.”
Today, Misco employs about 100 people in the Twin Cities and manufactures a wide variety of speakers for musicians, home theater buffs, even drive-through restaurants.
Digre, who’s now the company’s president, says there used to be a substantial speaker industry in the United States. But over the past two decades, most manufactures moved offshore. And their suppliers moved with them.
“Either suppliers went to China or they probably went out of business,” Digre says.
His factory is still in Minnesota, but it depends on some components imported from China. Since last fall, the company has had to pay tariffs on those components — tariffs that are now 25%. Ironically, if Digre built whole speakers in China, like some of his competitors do, he’d have to pay only a 15% import tax.
Dan Digre, who owns a Minnesota factory, Misco, that makes speakers, says tariffs are hurting his ability to compete.
Courtesy of Michael Everett/Misco