April 18, 2012, Birmingham, AL — These suits are all based upon allegations made in an unjustified civil administrative complaint filed against McWane, Inc. by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in January. As with the FTC complaint, there is no factual or legal basis for any of these complaints against McWane.
Almost two years ago the FTC began examining McWane’s marketing programs as a result of complaints from a foreign competitor. It appears that this importer of products from China, Korea and India claimed that a modest and routine rebate that McWane provided to its loyal customers was somehow anti-competitive. The FTC has also raised questions about the fact that, like almost all other trade associations, the short-lived association for the fittings industry gathered limited, stale, and perfectly proper statistics about the tons of fittings sales in the U.S. All of this is taking place in an industry that remains highly competitive, and while foreign–made fittings continue to flood the market and push the domestic industry closer to extinction.
“We compete fairly and legally in the marketplace, working hard to win business and preserve jobs from unfair foreign competition,” said McWane President G. Ruffner Page. “Our rebate programs provide competitive pricing to our customers, and the sales data gathering by the industry’s trade association was conducted ethically and legally, and under supervision of outside counsel.”
Page said that, “The FTC has not produced any evidence of any illegal conduct on the part of McWane. This lack of evidence reinforces our determination to fight this action and the private cases with every resource at our command, and we will prevail on behalf of American jobs and our economy. At a time when we are struggling to survive in the face of unfair foreign competition, it is sad and disappointing to be forced to spend millions of dollars vindicating ourselves that could have been better spent preserving the jobs of our team members, including several hundred who are located in New Jersey.”
Notably, at least one of the FTC Commissioners agreed that portions of the FTC complaint are unjustified, stating that: “I do not think that the Complaint against McWane adequately alleges exclusive dealing as a matter of law. In particular, there is case law … blessing the conduct that the complaints charge as exclusive dealing.” Statement of Commissioner J. Thomas Rosch, Concurring in Part and Dissenting in Part IN THE MATTER OF MCWANE, INC. AND STAR PIPE PRODUCTS, LTD., and IN THE MATTER AND IN THE MATTER OF SIGMA CORPORATION, FTC File No. 101 0080, January 4, 2012.
Similarly, the allegations that McWane participated in improper information exchanges and price signaling, are flatly wrong. “At no time did anyone from our company collude with a competitor about pricing,” said Page. “The only information that DIFRA gathered and distributed was old and aggregated sales volume totals that were limited to a six-month period and submitted on a blind basis to an accounting firm. There was nothing anti-competitive about DIFRA’s work, which is the type of data gathering common among all industry associations and is designed to help the members plan production schedules.”
About McWane Inc.
McWane, Inc. is a family-owned business based in Birmingham, Alabama, with companies across the United States and the world. At the McWane Family of Companies, we cast ductile iron products--including pipe, valves, hydrants, fittings, and plumbing products--manufacture fire extinguishers, fire suppression systems, steel pressure vessels, and build network switches and monitoring equipment. We are the leader in delivering clean, safe drinking water around the world while focusing on the safe, environmentally-friendly manufacturing of our products. With more than 6,000 team members McWane has a longstanding commitment of support to the communities where we live and work.