Judges Break Up Door-Making Conglomerate

Extraordinary antitrust decision out of the fourth circuit. Three judges - two appointed by Obama and one by Trump - order a break-up of a window and door making giant, Jeld-Wen.

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Last month, three judges on the fourth circuit issued an extraordinary decision against a window and door making firm called Jeld-Wen. Three judges - two appointed by Obama and one by Trump - order a break-up of Jeld-Wen. And it wasn't even the gov't who brought the case, but a private plaintiff.

Jeld-Wen makes what are called doorskins, which make up the back and front of a door, and are expensive and difficult to produce. Jeld-Wen sold doorskins to door makers, but Jen-Weld also made and sold doors as well. So it both sold to its doorskin customers, and competed with them for the final buyer of doors.

There were three makers of doorskins until 2012, when Jeld-Wen bought one of its main competitors, CMI. Obama’s Department of Justice investigated the merger, twice, but didn’t do anything about it. Once there were only two players in the market, Jeld-Wen began cutting off its customers from being able to buy doorskins. Steves and Sons filed a suit in 2016, and a district court ruled in the plaintiff’s favor, ordering Jeld-Wen to sell the factory it bought from CMI. The fourth circuit just agreed.

This is remarkable, and an important precedent. It is also an embarrassment for public enforcers. Private litigants have broken up more firms - one - than government enforcers have in two decades.