Steel tariffs putting the squeeze on Utah businesses

Jun 25, 2018, 7:18 PM | Updated: 8:12 pm

LEHI – Steel workers in Utah are already feeling the squeeze from President Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum.  In some cases, costs of getting the materials have nearly doubled, which would force customers to shell out a lot more money.

When the tariffs were announced on steel and aluminum, Richard John with Rocky Mountain Stainless in Lehi expected some sort of price increase, but not a massive one.  After all, he works with stainless steel which has a lot of materials in it.

John says, “Most of the structural stainless steel that we purchase is manufactured and processed in the U.S.”

However, prices skyrocketed before tariffs went into effect

“As soon as they were mentioned all the mills that produce all of the materials started raising their prices,” John says.

For instance, John was quoted a price of $400 thousand for materials needed for a job last year.  “As soon as we got the new rates in and the new quotes in, with the prints this year, it jacked up to $700 thousand,” he says.

Plus, steel manufacturers are giving vendors less time to lock down a price, which, in turn, gives the customer less time to make a decision.  John says mills used to lock down a price for 30 days while contractors and customers made their plans.  Now, he says mills only lock down a price for one day.  Sometimes, a vendor has less than that.

“Shipments that were already coming into the vendors, [the manufacturers] called them and said, ‘I need you to approve this price increase on this shipment that’s coming across in the next couple of hours, or we’re going to send it to another customer,’” John says.

The Washington Post says 60 workers at Mid-Continental Nail have already been laid off due to the tariffs.

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