Trump tariffs could have big impact locally

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Alex Crescenti | WCTV Eyewitness News
March 29, 2018

TALLAHASSEE, Fla (WCTV) -- The process of turning raw metal into something usable for consumers is no simple task.

When it comes to sheet metal, Bobby Kelly is an expert. Bobby owns Kelly Brothers Sheet Metal and has been working in the business since he was 12.

"I've worked here in the shop mostly, so I've been around it quite a bit," said Kelly.

This year, Bobby's company turns 40.

Recently, he's worked on big projects that include the VA Hospital, Capital Regional, and dorms at FSU and FAMU.

"We're not the biggest, but we probably do a lot of volume," added Kelly.

These days, steel products cost more.

"A lot of people are panicked for the galvanized steel that we buy. I've seen galvanized go up almost 20% and that's on projects that we already have contracts existing that we haven't bought the metal for," said Kelly.

Foreign orders take up to six months to arrive. State-side steel mills are raising rates, and many are at maximum capacity.

"The quota that's been put on, 63% quota of incoming materials means that we will be 37% percent short of being able to supply projects," said Michael Smith, the Director of Sales for Tri County Metal Rooting.

He says since the president signed the tariff, prices have gone up 25% across the board. The increase is impacting other industries, including Tallahassee's Proof Brewing Company.

Proof packages and distributes around one million cans of beer across Florida a year. There's the price of cans, but there's also the price of moving to a new location.

"25 percent and 10 percent increase could greatly impact the cost of materials to us and therefore potentially impact the price to market and the last thing we ever want to do is raise our rates to the marketplace," said Byron Buroughs, the Owner of Proof Brewing.

Proof expects to triple its output in their new location, but that will require more packaging and manufacturing equipment. Burrough says the ultimate impacts of the tariff are still unknown.

"You're always going to try to get the best possible prices when sourcing materials to use in the manufacturing process," he said.

Watching and waiting for the long term impact for local businesses and customers.

"I don't know how long this will last. If it blows over pretty quickly, it may be okay, but if it stayed this way it could affect upcoming projects to some degree," said Kelly.

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