Along with being the childhood home of Wyatt Earp and holding the world’s record for the number of people dancing in wooden shoes at one time (2,600), the Iowa town of Pella is best known for its namesake window company.
So you would figure that folks at the home of the Pella Corp. would remember Donald Trump’s declaration in 2010 that he had been forced to make a yuge order of windows from China because he had such difficulty finding any that were made in America.
“I ordered windows, thousands of windows the other day; they’re made in China,” Trump said during an interview with CNBC. “I don’t want to buy them, but it’s hard to get them anywhere else.”
The revelation had caused quite an uproar in the window industry. Trump had sought to smooth it over with a statement insisting “I would much rather buy ‘U.S’—and do much business with Pella—(and others). The U.S. product is better.”
“China’s artificially low currency makes it hard for U.S. companies to compete,” he said at the time.
In other words, Trump had bought the Chinese windows because they were cheaper. That translated into greater profits for him.
And profit is what made Trump the Really Rich guy who had people lined up by the hundreds in Pella to hear him speak on Saturday. Here is how Trump began his speech.
“Oh Pella, Pella, Pella, I’m always negotiating the prices of those damn windows, you know?” Trump can be heard saying in a video of the event. “Brutal, brutal.”
The auditorium filled with cheers.
“But they’re good, I’ll tell you what,” he went on. “They’re a great product and we buy a lot of them.”
“Anybody who work at Pella? Anybody?” he asked.
Voices responded in the boisterous affirmative.
“Well, you know you have lots of orders for Trump,” he said. “They make a quality window and you’re proud to have them.”
He was not done.
“I didn’t realize I’d be speaking in Pella. I’ve paid so much money to them. Ay! I get the shudders to think I’m here.”
He then turned serious.
“But the end result is their product is great,” the man who six years earlier said he had ordered windows by the thousands from China now said, “Which is what we want in this country, right? That’s what we want.”
From the crowd came a cry.
Trump returned to the subject of windows while speaking of Donald-doubters, in particular people who suggested that his financial disclosure forms would show he was not as rich as he claimed to be.
“Actually, it turned out I’m much richer,” he said to the crowd’s manifest delight. “I built a great company.”
“Pella knows, Pella knows,” he went on. “Those windows go someplace. And those were successful jobs.”
Neither Trump nor the Pella Corp. responded to requests for comment, so it is difficult to determine what jobs he was speaking about.
Unless he was applying a Trump-ian definition of success, Trump was not likely talking of his casinos in Atlantic City, an adventure that led to multiple bankruptcies. That despite his father, Fred Trump, slipping him more than $3 million through a supposed gambling chips purchase at a casino cashier’s cage.
He certainly was not referring to whatever buildings were outfitted with thousands of Chinese windows, which he almost certainly purchased because they were cheaper than American-made ones such as those Pella produces.
Donald Trump was also not likely to have been citing a number of projects where he was not the actual developer but had simply licensed his name to lure investors.
In two of those projects, the Trump Soho and the Trump Fort Lauderdale, the buildings went into foreclosure.
In two other projects, the Trump Tampa and the Trump Baja, the buildings were never built.
The locals down in Baja in Mexico must get a pretty good laugh when they hear Trump talk about building a wall along the border and then see his smiling face on a billboard overlooking a hole in the ground.
“Trump Ocean Resort Baja Mexico,” the billboard says. “Trump. Owning here is just the beginning.”
Not laughing are the investors who lost millions imagining that Trump is a synonym for Midas.
His name remains his company’s greatest asset.
The first image that appears on his company’s website is of a foreclosed building erected with such business partners as Felix Sater, a Russian immigrant with a violent felony conviction who had previously participated in a multimillion-dollar stock fraud linked to the Mafia.
But the building is still the Trump Soho. It still bears the moniker that to some means bigotry and misogyny but to others means bucks and moxie.
In another of his foundering deals, a mega-project on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Trump had a partner named Vincent Lo who was sometimes called China’s version of The Donald. Lo even hosted an Apprentice-style reality show called Wise Man Takes All.
Lo could never quite pull it off: The Chinese might be able to make bargain-priced windows, just as they made bargain-priced garments that Trump sold in clothing lines before he got even better prices having them made in Lesotho.
But Trump is a uniquely American product.
Just ask those good folks in Iowa.
As Trump would say, Pella knows.