ST. GEORGE – The subject of tariffs was on the minds of employees of a St. George-based manufacturer as they met with Rep. Chris Stewart on Monday.
The Republican congressman visited CargoGlide and held a short town-hall meeting with them in one of the company’s warehouses. Before opening the door to questions, Stewart touted the passing of last year’s tax overhaul legislation that cut corporate taxes, saying it has allowed companies to hire more people across the nation. He also mentioned cuts to federal regulations under the Trump administration.
As a small-business owner prior to being elected to Congress, Stewart said he understood the stress and pressure high taxes and regulation can have on a business.
President Donald Trump’s tariffs came up at the meeting. Among the items impacted by the tariffs are steel and aluminum, both of which CargoGlide uses in manufacturing its products.
Stewart said told the president earlier this month that the tariffs were hurting Utah, particularly where agriculture is concerned, adding that it could wipe out dairies.
In response, Trump and the Commerce Department have told Stewart that the tariffs shouldn’t last very long.
“(They’re) using it as a negotiation tactic,” Stewart said. “We’re going to keep pressure on and renegotiate (trade deals). I hope that’s true, because it’s hurting companies in the meanwhile.”
While Trump’s behavior at times can make his own job harder, Stewart said he has come to believe the president is on the right track.
“His policies are just right, and he cares more about guys like us than any other person in Washington, D.C. I’m talking about middle America, (the) hard-working guys who are just working for a living.”
Despite praising Trump’s policies, Stewart said he is concerned about the damage tariffs can do to Utah businesses in the long term.
“I just hope it happens as quickly as possible because I recognize we’re paying a price,” he said.
According to World Trade Center Utah, nations targeted by Trump’s tariffs accounted for 50 percent of the state’s exports in 2017. Retaliatory tariffs threaten $114 million in Utah exports.
“With the steel and aluminum tariffs now in effect, they are beginning to tarnish the relationships we have with some of our top trade allies,” Derek Miller, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah said last month. “In addition to the strain placed on Utah companies, consumers will also feel the consequences of the retaliation as they begin paying higher prices for goods.”
Following Stewart’s visit, CargoGlide CEO Brad Harrell said that tariffs on steel and aluminum have increased prices 5 to 6 percent. However, the steel and aluminum CargoGlide uses for its products is American made, so the compnay isn’t feeling the sting as much as others. The price increase he attributes to the tariffs deals more with specific components used in CargoGlide products.
“We don’t think we’ll have another increase this year,” Harrell said.
CargoGlide produces platforms and shelving that can be rolled out of the back of pickup truck beds and vans and is geared for people who work out of their vehicles. It allows someone like an electrician or package delivery driver to place all of their items on the rollout platform or shelving unit for easier access.
The company has become one of the largest steel-users between Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, Harrell said.
Stewart visited CargoGlide to highlight that manufacturing in America, and Utah in particular, isn’t dead.
“You can be a successful manufacturer and ship all over the world like these guys do,” Stewart said.
He also said CargoGlide had “a great story,” as it started out in a garage with two people a few years ago and has grown to employ over 100 people and continues to expand.
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