Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz issued the following statement today after Buffalo-based tablet maker Bak USA announced the company’s closure:

“I am saddened to learn of the closure of Bak USA. I had spoken to JP Bak multiple times recently as he fought to keep his company open, including just this morning. Unfortunately the recent imposition of tariffs by the Trump Administration against the importation of Chinese tablet components penalized their products compared to those assembled in China, thereby eliminating whatever small profit margin existed.

The current tariff system is backwards and penalizes American manufacturing: Apple, Dell, Amazon, Lenovo and other tablets that are fully assembled in China by Chinese workers are not subject to tariffs even if the components also come from China but Bak USA’s tablets assembled in the USA by Americans using Chinese components are subject to tariffs when the components are imported.

This outcome is actually ridiculous because US imposed tariffs are in fact promoting the offshoring of jobs to China. Tariffs are supposed to protect American jobs, not promote Chinese jobs. Unfortunately the current tariffs promote Chinese jobs, not those in Buffalo, New York.

Erie County stands at the ready to help the employees who were affected by this sudden closure, and to assist the Bak family in the event they attempt to reopen their company if the tariffs are lifted.”

Bak USA, the Buffalo company that set out to prove it was possible to build tablet and laptop computers in the United States while trying to lift up disadvantaged workers at the same time, is shutting down immediately.

“It is with great sadness that I announce today that Bak USA will close its doors,” company co-founder J.P. Bak said today in a statement. “Regrettably, the economic pressures on our young company have become too great to withstand.”

Employees were notified of the decision today. The company said the shutdown affects 77 current workers. Employment peaked at nearly 130 workers this past spring before Bak USA undertook several rounds of layoffs.

“While we are beyond proud of Bak USA’s many successes, the business did not reach the point of profitability necessary to sustain itself,” Bak said. “The additional, unanticipated expenses associated with the tariffs imposed by the White House were a deciding factor in our ultimate decision to close.”