“Across the board, tariffs have been horrible for us,” said Greg Clement, president of Argon Industries, a Milwaukee company that uses a lot of steel and aluminum in its manufacturing processes. “Our material costs have doubled in some cases.”
Austin Ramirez, president and CEO of Husco International in Waukesha, says “it’s hard to find a manufacturer today, other than those who make steel and aluminum, that aren’t feeling the brunt of these tariffs.”
Ramirez says the problem isn’t so much on Husco products crossing borders — “it’s in our supply chain.” He adds the impact is about $1 million per month.
He says about one-third of the components Husco uses in its North American plants come from suppliers in China. Ramirez also said Husco is at risk of losing business to Japanese and German competitors that don’t have to deal with the tariffs.
Nick Novak, communications director for WMC, says the tariffs could lead to companies moving operations out of the United States.
“The most challenging piece of the tariff equation for us is just the uncertainty of all of it,” Ramirez said. “And it’s hard to make decisions about our supply chain in light of that uncertainty.”
He adds: “If these tariffs stay in place for a long time, I think we’ll see jobs move outside the U.S. to non-Chinese countries in order to avoid these tariffs and serve customers.”
Clement says Argon Industries was planning $2 million in equipment investments next year, and to add about 30 employees.
“But if my costs keep increasing and our customers keep looking outside and possibly move work back to China, back to Mexico, and we’re not going to grow,” he said.