How Dixon Ticonderoga Has Blurred Lines of Where Its Pencils Are Made

(Damian Paletta – Washington Post)

Dixon Ticonderoga Co. sold millions of the iconic No. 2 yellow pencils American children took back to school this month.

But the 223-year-old firm has survived by relying on more than just its reputation as the producer of sturdy and steady writing instruments. A key part of its approach has been to use U.S. trade law to reap government benefits and protection as it also moved almost all pencil production to Mexico and China.

The company has collected nearly $5 million in federal funding aimed at victims of foreign trade abuse since 2005 and has requested millions more, according to Customs and Border Protection records. And the fact that it has a Georgia distribution center has allowed Dixon to successfully petition the U.S. government to impose a 114.9 percent tariff on Chinese competitors — more than doubling the costs for some other pencil makers.

But even as it receives these protections, its status as a U.S. firm is unclear. It has shed hundreds of jobs, and a key U.S. agency removed Dixon’s designation as a “domestic” manufacturer because it made so few pencils at its Georgia plant. Click here to read more.