Carrier Air Conditioning has managed a weird couple of weeks. First called out last summer by then candidate Donald Trump for plans to ship jobs to Mexico, the company was in the headlines for weeks … then the press moved on. But Trump never forgot. Now the President-Elect, Trump met with Carrier bosses and worked out a plan. The deal is either good, bad or a little of both depending on who you ask – and their political affiliation – but that’s not what has Carrier in the news this week.
After weathering the barrage of Trump-related news, Carrier found itself in the not-so-enviable position of being an easy headline topic. So, journalists kept one eye on the company as the news cycled. Lo and behold, Carrier tried to sneak something past those distracted eyes between news cycles.
Someone at CNN caught them and splashed “Carrier” in yet another headline. This one, the company plans to raise the price of its commercial and residential A/C units and furnaces by up to five percent. Customers learned of this back on November 23, a week before they reached a deal with Trump … but you can bet that looming conversation – and the lambasting they took over the summer – were on their minds. So, even though the company finally agreed to keep around 700 production jobs at a plant in Indiana, seems like they protected the bottom line for this decision long before it was made.
Chances are very good the right side of the media will totally ignore this aspect of the story, but the left side will not get enough of this, casting it as the company outsmarting Trump and getting one over on the American people … as well as the taxpayers of Indiana, who will get stuck with the incentive bill that kept those jobs in the country.
The two sides will send this messaging out into their fan bases, who will then battle it out on social media for the right to say they have the “real version” of the story.
Carrier, though, has a tougher row to hoe in the aftermath of both this story and those that have preceded it dating back months. From a consumer PR standpoint, none of this looks good for one of the largest HVAC companies in the world.
Carrier became one of the symbols of the Trump revolution, that united voters and turned the rust belt red for the first time in decades. That image has not faded, and, as long as Carrier is on the receiving end of negative headlines, that image will become more deeply ingrained in the mind of the American consumer.
David Milberg is an experienced credit analyst in NYC. He is a long-time owner of Milberg Factors, a factoring and finance company with locations in New York, California, and North Carolina.