Exclusive — China Outsourcing from the Timken Company Complicates Jane Timken’s Senate Bid in Ohio

Jane and POTUS
Jane Timpken for Ohio

Jane Timken, the former chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, is running for the U.S. Senate claiming to be an acolyte of former President Donald Trump’s America First vision, but the actions of a company bearing her family name that outsourced American jobs to China over the past several decades raise questions about whether she truly believes in it.

Timken’s husband Ward “Tim” Timken Jr. was the chairman of the Timken Company from 2005 to 2014, and later was the CEO of the offshoot TimkenSteel which broke off from the main company in 2014. Before, during, and after his leadership of the Timken Company, the organization massively expanded operations in China and decreased jobs in America to the point where the size of its workforce in China as of 2012, according to press accounts, rivaled the size of its workforce in Ohio.

Timken and her campaign told Breitbart News she is an ardent supporter of Trump and his policies, including on China, and given manufacturing industry shifts she witnessed firsthand while her husband was overseeing thousands of American jobs drained to China, she understands the plight of American workers in Ohio and can use this experience to fight on their behalf. She did not answer several questions about her thoughts on the Timken Company’s actions, including whether she would have done anything differently; whether she used her voice as a shareholder at all to speak up against the company’s actions; whether she and her husband intend to keep their shares of the Timken Company; whether she approved of the company’s decisions when her husband was chairman to build plants in China while cutting jobs in America; and what she would do if elected to the U.S. Senate to stand up for Americans who lost jobs from the Timken Company while it expanded operations in China. Nonetheless, the complicated picture — and how Timken handles it from here — could be a make or break issue for a U.S. Senate candidate in a primary in the Trump and America First era, especially in the reddening state of Ohio.

To be clear, Jane Timken never had a management role in either corporation, the Timken Company or TimkenSteel. Her husband, whose name is Ward but goes by Tim, did. He was the chairman of the Timken Company from 2005 to 2014, during most of the timeframe in which it was outsourcing to China. Afterwards, he was CEO of TimkenSteel until he was forced out of the company a couple years ago. Even though she had no management position in the company, Jane Timken did and continues to financially benefit from this activity. She personally has, according to the latest Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings from her husband, 2,810 shares of the Timken Company as of Feb. 25. On that day, Timken Company stock was trading at $78.91 a share, putting Jane Timken’s shares alone at worth more than $221,000 on that day. Her husband has millions of shares, worth tens of millions of dollars, according to that February SEC filing.

The Timken campaign’s response to in depth questions about her stock and the Timken Company was mostly to blame industry trends that forced U.S. firms like the Timken Company to move operations there — and to blame her political opponents for this research. To be clear, all of this information regarding Jane Timken and the Timken Company’s shipping of jobs overseas is publicly available and the presentation contained within this story is the product of weeks of Breitbart News research, investigation, and compilation of news reports, press releases, and other documents. Jane Timken did not agree to an interview for this story; she instead provided a written statement, again claiming to be pro-Trump and anti-China. When asked, she did not address whether she intends to keep her stock in the Timken Company nor was she willing to answer questions about her husband’s tenure as chairman.

“I take a backseat to no one in my support of President Trump and his America First policies,” Jane Timken told Breitbart News. “I put 150,000 miles on my car over the last four years fighting to reelect President Trump and support America First candidates and policies as leader of the Ohio Republican Party. I’ll continue that fight as a U.S. Senator. Before President Trump, our trade deals were so badly broken and the playing field was so tilted toward cheaters like China that manufacturers had to do all they could to stay in business and preserve as many American jobs as possible. President Trump changed all of that and I was proud to stand beside him as he fought for hardworking Ohioans by finally holding China accountable.”

She also said her political opponents in the race for the Ohio GOP nomination for U.S. Senate in next year’s senatorial primary are responsible for this story.

“It’s sad that my opponents want to score political points by attacking a business with my husband’s family name, which has employed tens of thousands of Ohio residents over its long history,” Jane Timken told Breitbart News. “I am my own person and I fight my own battles, and as U.S. Senator I’ll be proud to fight for Ohio workers and families by advancing President Trump’s America First agenda.”

Jane Timken is running against declared candidate former Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel and likely candidates Hillbilly Elegy author J.D. Vance as well as businessman and former Senate candidate Mike Gibbons as well as businessman Bernie Moreno. Several U.S. Representatives from Ohio, including Reps. Steve Stivers (R-OH), Bill Johnson (R-OH), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), and Mike Turner (R-OH), have also either expressed interest or been reported as potential candidates.

The history of the Timken Company building in China while slashing jobs in America is one that goes back many years, and happened gradually over time.

In 2008, the Timken Company announced it was breaking ground on a wind energy plant in China. The effort, heralded by Timken’s husband and the-then chairman of the Timken Company Tim Timken Jr. as one the company was “proud of,” consisted of a joint venture between the Timken Company and the Chinese entity Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd. (XEMC). “We are proud of our collaboration with XEMC,” Tim Timken said in a late October 2008 company press release that noted he traveled to Xiangtan for the plant’s groundbreaking ceremony.  “We look forward to bringing more than a century of power-transmission and materials expertise to this joint venture as we collaborate to meet sustainable energy needs in the 21st century.”

Early the next year, in early March 2009, the Timken Company slashed 400 ball bearing jobs in Ohio. Those job cuts in Ohio were in addition to 2,500 other American jobs eliminated previously according to an Agence-France Presse report published on March 2, 2009, in the trade publication Industry Week. The report quoted chief Timken Company executive James Griffith as saying the cuts of nearly 3,000 American jobs were to “align our organization for effectiveness and to right-size our cost structure to increase our competitiveness in today’s global markets.”

Griffith went on to state that the cuts of American jobs were designed to help the Timken Company compete elsewhere in the world.

“We’re balancing capacity through reduced labor and output,” Griffith added in the AFP report. “Our focus now is to align our administrative and sales functions to be more effective in today’s challenging environment. As we operate with a leaner organization, we will continue to focus on improving profitability and cash flow — as we strengthen the Timken brand across the globe.”

In July 2010, the Timken Company then announced it was shipping ball bearings manufacturing jobs to that XEMC facility in China rather than bringing them back to Ohio. The president of Timken China, See Leong Fang, is quoted in a press release heralding the jobs going there instead of Ohio.

“We have brought more than a century of power-transmission and materials expertise to this partnership striving to meet sustainable energy needs in China,” See Leong Fang said. “This new investment in Xiangtan is dedicated to help provide an environmentally sustainable source of power for China’s rapidly expanding economy, in line with the Chinese government’s goals of increasing capacity in renewable energies. Those renewable energies and wind energy in particular deploy emerging technology to which Timken can make a significant contribution.”

A November 2006 report in Industry Week details how the Timken Company had made a long-term play for investment in China, dating back to the 1990s. The story details how the Timken Company had just opened its sixth factory in China, this one an aerospace plant in the High Technology Development Zone in Chengdu, China.

“This center, the sixth plant that Timken operates in China will employ 200 people that will manufacture ball and cylindrical roller bearings up to 12 inches (30 centimeters) in diameter,” the Industry Week report states.

The report quotes Timken Company Industrial Group president Michael Arnold as saying the company “is proud of its progress in China” and that the then-latest China plant was part of its “strategic initiatives to expand our presence in industrial markets in Asia, as well as to build an increasingly diverse portfolio of aerospace precision components and services worldwide.”

The Industry Week report continues by noting that the Timken Company first expanded into China way back in 1992, just as communism fell in the Soviet Union and retreated to Beijing at the end of the Cold War. “Timken came to China in 1992 and has invested in five large-scale manufacturing sites in Wuxi (3), Yantai, and Suzhou, a logistics center, and a network of seven sales offices in Shanghai, Beijing, Shenyang, Wuxi, Chengdu, Hong Kong, and Taipei,” the Industry Week report said.

As of 2010, as well, according to a report in The Business Journal, the Timken Company had won tens of millions of dollars in contracts in China. By February 2012, only 25 percent of the Timken Company’s workforce was left in Ohio whereas 20 percent of it had shifted to China. These statistics came out during the 98th annual regional Chamber of Commerce dinner in Canton, Ohio, in early 2012, according to a local news report.

Timken’s U.S. Senate campaign, in a lengthy statement issued to Breitbart News separate from the statement attributed to her personally, said adverse industry trends, which Timken opposed, were part of why this happened.

“American manufacturers struggled under terrible trade deals and economic polices set by administrations previous to Trump to stay in business and protect as many American jobs as possible,” the Timken campaign said. “Jane Timken witnessed the unsustainable and deeply broken impact of this system on American workers and businesses and that’s why cracking down on China’s cheating, protecting American manufacturing jobs, and bringing more jobs back to our shores is deeply personal to her.”

The statement continued by arguing that Timken fought to elect Trump in 2016 — she did help him in the general election — and to reelect him in 2020 to combat these trends. The campaign also argued Timken is running for the U.S. Senate to fight against such trends there as well.

“This is why she worked so hard to elect Donald Trump in 2016, why she fought so hard to get him reelected as chair of the Republican Party and why she fought in the trenches to help President Trump take-on China and level the playing field for American workers,” the Timken campaign said. “It is why Jane is running now, to fight for the America First agenda, stop socialism dead in its tracks and take on China to protect Ohio jobs. She believes China is the greatest foreign threat facing the United States and that President Trump was 100 percent right on China. While Barack Obama and Joe Biden bowed to China, Jane stood behind President Trump as he took-on the Communist regime to fight for American workers — for Ohio workers like those at the Whirlpool Manufacturing Plant in Clyde, where 3,000 hardworking Americans have jobs because of manufacturing production brought back to this country by American First policies. As Ohio’s next senator, Jane will hold China accountable for their theft of intellectual property, theft of American jobs, their persecution of Christians and religious minorities and for their lies and incompetence that unleashed the coronavirus and brought the entire world economy to the brink. She will continue to champion America First trade policies, as she did over the last four years, to protect and grow American jobs.”

The Timken campaign does seem to have a point in that in the timeframe after Tim Timken led the Timken Company — and later when he ousted from TimkenSteel — things do not seem to have improved on the outsourcing front. In other words, their argument is these were broader industry trends over which he had little control. In December 2020, cleveland.com reported the Timken Company was opening its first plant in Mexico. And a little over a month after Tim Timken’s October 2019 ouster as CEO of TimkenSteel, in November 2019, the offshoot company closed a plant in Houston cutting close to 100 jobs. Later, as recently as February 2019, the Timken Company’s charitable arm the Timken Co. Charitable and Education Fund announced a series of scholarships for students from around the world — including at least one child of a worker at one of its facilities in China — according to a local news report.

A 2014 report in the New York Times on how the Timken Company spun off TimkenSteel does say that under the leadership of Tim Timken — Jane’s husband — the Timken Company “has been loyal to Canton,” its hometown in Ohio.

“Timken spent $450 million to build a state-of-the-art mill on the edge of town,” Nelson Schwartz wrote in the December 2014 New York Times report. “More recently, the company spent $225 million to expand that steel mill and erect a giant caster, the only one of its kind in North America and one of only a handful anywhere in the world. Rising 17 stories above the surrounding cornfields with another eight below ground, the Jumbo Bloom Vertical Caster, as it’s formally known, can turn molten metal into fresh steel more quickly and at a lower cost. In October, it began making steel that will eventually end up as pipelines on deep-sea rigs, or as gun barrels or precision medical tools. The Timken family supported these huge capital expenditures even though it meant lower profits in the short term and less capital to return to shareholders.”

Schwartz wrote that the Timken Company’s “wager” paid off in the form of profits that led to “good wages for unionized steelworkers or donations to local schools, the Canton Museum of Art, and the new downtown arts district.” Schwartz also wrote that such efforts “spared” Canton from the same fate as Youngstown, which was hollowed out as jobs left American shores. The reason for the split was because activist investors wanted to drive up profits and accelerate outsourcing that Tim Timken apparently was pushing back on. In other words, the Timken Company under his leadership was partaking in the same outsourcing game that plagued so much of American manufacturing but less so than its competitors.

Even if the Timken Company did under Tim Timken’s leadership keep some jobs in America while building up operations over in China, explaining away that hollowed out manufacturing core of the buckle of America’s rust belt when a company with your family name on it helped accelerate the process, is tough for a Senate candidate to easily do.

The first time she was ever asked about this as a candidate was in an interview with Steve Bannon, the former Trump adviser and former Breitbart News executive who now hosts the War Room podcast. Bannon asked about the business in a positive manner, saying when he thinks about Timken, “I think about manufacturing.” He asked her how she would bring jobs back to America from the Chinese Communist Party in China.

“President Trump was right with our trade policies,” Timken replied. “China has not been a fair player on the world stage. We need to fight back and stand up to China, and their theft of intellectual property. We need to make an environment where manufacturing can thrive and prosper so we can have those jobs here in Ohio and across the country. The Democrats are attacking the manufacturing system. When they talk about attacking our oil and gas industry, when they talk about taking away our reliable sources of energy, we need to have lower taxes and a business environment where manufacturing can prosper.”

But that did not address the fact that the very company Bannon was asking her about — that the Timken family is known for — began investing in and building in China as early as 1992 and has seen thousands of jobs created there instead of in Ohio. Interestingly, the Timken campaign pointed Breitbart News to comments Bannon made in this interview that were positive about her Senate campaign noting that her chairmanship of the Ohio GOP “led to this big, huge victory in Ohio” for Trump in 2020. At the end of the interview, Bannon added that “I got to hat tip for you for what you did in Ohio, the great victory there gave President Trump time to spend in these other areas. So everyone in the Trump movement wants to thank you very much.”

The Timken campaign also provided Breitbart News with an earlier clip from Bannon’s podcast, one where he played Timken’s campaign announcement advertisement and then solicited commentary from former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro — one of the hardest core nationalists in a White House that was full of them — praising her. Navarro said of the ad, in which she hyped her support of Trump, that it was “not rhetoric.”

“That is the god-honest truth from one of the toughest people I know. Jane Timken was a force of nature in Ohio for Donald J. Trump — remember how strongly we took that state,” Navarro said. “That thing was rock solid. She’s the wife of Tim Timken, who comes from a steel-making factory family that goes on for decades there, and I can’t think of a better candidate to go forward in America for the U.S. Senate than that woman there. That’s as good as it’s ever gonna get.”

The Timken campaign also pointed to public comments Tim Timken made as the then-CEO of TimkenSteel in 2018 that were supportive of then-President Trump’s steel tariffs on China.

“We view it as a very positive thing,” he said at the time Trump announced the tariffs, according to CNN. “I’m confident by the end of the week we’re going to end up with something we’re going to be very supportive of.”

The Repository, a local newspaper in Canton, Ohio, published a piece defending Jane Timken from allegations against her on social media that the Timken Company had outsourced jobs to China — and Mexico, the latest country getting a Timken Company plant — by noting she never actually worked for the Timken Company or TimkenSteel. The “fact check” the local newspaper published notes that Jane Timken’s “only link” to either company “is through marriage.”

“Her husband, Ward J. ‘Tim’ Timken, Jr. is the great-great grandson of the company’s founder, Henry Timken,” the Repository wrote. “Tim Timken was the CEO of TimkenSteel and is currently a Timken Co. board member. He is not taking part in the day-to-day operations of the company.” Technically, that is true as of this year — Tim Timken was ousted in October 2019, fired as CEO of TimkenSteel. He was moved out of the Timken Company board chairman position in 2014, when the company spun off TimkenSteel where he served as CEO for five years from the inception of the new company until his ouster. But Tim Timken did in fact serve as Chairman of the Timken Company for nearly a decade as the company was expanding operations in China and cutting jobs in America, and did serve as CEO of TimkenSteel for another five years. He also worked in the bigger company for many years before he became chairman, as the company was founded in his family generations ago — he is the great-great grandson of the Timken Company’s founder Henry Timken.

The Timken Company’s corporate communications official Scott Schroeder even told the Repository newspaper that Jane Timken had nothing to do with the company’s operations. “Recently, we’ve noticed some inaccurate information on social media — not in your coverage — regarding our company and Senate candidate Jane Timken,” Schroeder told the newspaper. “Jane Timken has never had a role with The Timken Company and is not involved in the company’s operations.”

Again, while this is technically true, she does own a sizable share of stock in the company — and her husband owns a significant amount more, while also having helped drive the company’s moves for years. Jane Timken has had plenty of opportunities to criticize the company’s shift to China as well, including for this story, and chosen not to take those opportunities.

The Columbus Dispatch reported in 2019 that Jane Timken, then the chairwoman of the Ohio Republican Party, refused to answer questions about whether she believes the Timken Company should leave China altogether. “Last week, Trump ‘ordered’ U.S. companies to [begin] looking for alternatives to operating in China,” the newspaper’s Rick Rouan wrote. “The Canton-based Timken Co. several plants in China, but Timken would not answer questions about whether the company would comply when she was approached after the roundtable.”

The newspaper added a statement from the Timken Company again clarifying she does not have any management role at the company. But again, despite her lack of a management role, as a GOP chairwoman and now as a U.S. Senate candidate, she did not answer questions about whether she thinks outsourcing from company that bears her family name is acceptable. Asked again by Breitbart News as part of a series of questions sent to her for this story if she believes the Timken Company sending jobs to China while eliminating jobs in America is acceptable, Jane Timken refused to answer.

This story came together after Axios reported that Republican National Committee (RNC) chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel was pushing former President Donald Trump to endorse Jane Timken for the U.S. Senate in Ohio. McDaniel was reportedly leaning hard into pushing Trump to back Timken’s candidacy, a bit of an overreach for a party chair who is supposed to stay neutral in open primaries. This race does not have an incumbent Republican because longtime Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) announced his coming retirement earlier this year, creating the vacancy and the GOP primary for the nomination.

Several advisers to Trump, including his eldest son Donald Trump Jr. and Jason Miller, talked the former president out of endorsing Timken this early—something he had considered doing at McDaniel’s urging, according to the report. “Donald Trump had to be talked out of making an early endorsement in Ohio’s 2022 U.S. Senate race, a sign of his eagerness to reengage politically, people familiar with the conversations tell Axios,” Axios’ Alayna Treene reported. “What we’re hearing: The former president discussed endorsing former state GOP chair Jane Timken last week during a meeting at Mar-a-Lago with RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, but top advisers — including Donald Trump Jr. — urged him to wait.”

Treene’s report continued by noting that during the meeting, “Trump asked McDaniel what she thought about Timken, who recently resigned as state party chair. He also wondered whether McDaniel thought Timken is ‘loyal’ to him, two sources familiar with their conversation said.” McDaniel, Treene wrote, “spoke positively about Timken and her chances of succeeding” Portman “despite it being against the RNC’s bylaws for the chairwoman to get involved in primary campaigns.”

An RNC spokesman, Mike Reed, defended McDaniel’s actions by issuing this statement: “Chairwoman McDaniel is good friends with Jane Timken and thinks highly of her. But, Chairwoman McDaniel did not make any recommendations on endorsements to President Trump and remains neutral in the primary.”

But Trump according to the Axios report later even spoke with Timken herself and considered endorsing her until several of his actual political allies warned him against doing so. Several sources close to former President Trump confirmed the Axios accounts of this set of events to Breitbart News, adding that part of why Trump withdrew from his plans to endorse Timken was because of a quote she offered praising Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH) after he voted to impeach Trump on his way out of office in January.

In an interview with cleveland.com on Feb. 1, well after Gonzalez voted to impeach Trump and after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Jane Timken praised him as a “very effective legislator.”

“He’s my congressman,” Jane Timken said of Gonzalez in that interview. “I think he’s been a very effective legislator. I don’t know if I would have voted the way he did [regarding the impeachment of Trump vote]. I think he’s spending some time explaining to folks his vote, and I think he’s got a rational reason why he voted that way. I think he’s an effective legislator, and he’s a very good person.”

Sources close to the former president confirmed to Breitbart News that Jane Timken was made aware this quote was part of why Trump was holding back on endorsing her early, so she later — now as a U.S. Senate candidate vying for Trump’s endorsement — rushed to clean up the mess. On March 1, just days after Trump’s first public address since leaving office delivered at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida, where he called for all of the Republicans who voted to impeach him in the House and convict him in the Senate to be challenged in primary elections, Jane Timken changed her tune on Gonzalez and called for his resignation from Congress.

“It is clear Congressman Gonzalez’s wrongful decision to vote with Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer to impeach President Trump has undermined his ability to effectively represent the people of the 16th district,” Jane Timken said in a press release.

But sources close to the former president also confirmed to Breitbart News he was irked by much more than the Gonzalez statements when it came to Jane Timken. Her handling of the issues surrounding the company that bears her family name is a huge consideration, given a large part of the reason why Trump was president in the first place was companies like the Timken Company shipping jobs to China while cutting jobs in America — literally this is a core central part of the America First vision for the country — is being very closely watched. The former president is also, sources familiar with the matter say, very openly considering other possibilities in the Ohio Senate primary in 2022. He may ultimately decide to back Timken, or he may ultimately decide to back one of the other candidates. But all of this has thrown a monkey wrench into Timken’s hopes of a quickie endorsement that clears the field for her early in the primary.

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