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June 15, 2018

Hussey Seating: Manufacturers 'feeling the pain' of new tariffs

Courtesy / Hussey Seating Co.
Courtesy / Hussey Seating Co.
Hussey Seating President and CEO Gary Merrill stands next to some of the unfinished metal component the company fabricates as part of the production of its telescopic gym bleachers and Clarin portable chairs. The North Berwick company issued a statement urging the Trump administration to rescind its tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, saying those import duties already are hurting Maine manufacturers.

About Hussey Seating Co.

A family-owned company founded in 1835, Hussey Seating Co. is a world leader in developing and manufacturing seating solutions for the sports and entertainment, education, and worship markets. Hussey's high-quality range of seating includes fixed polymer and upholstered chairs, telescopic platforms, telescopic gym seating (traditionally known as gym bleachers), and portable folding chairs.

Hussey Seating Co. in North Berwick today issued a statement urging the Trump administration to remove the tariffs imposed June 1 on Canadian steel and aluminum imports, saying price increases resulting from those import duties already is hurting Maine industry.

"We are far from the only manufacturer in New England feeling the pain of the new tariffs imposed," said Gary Merrill, president and CEO of Hussey Seating. "On top of the Canadian steel tariffs, prices for domestically sourced steel (HRPO and galvanized) have increased significantly in anticipation of the implementation of these tariffs. Like many in the construction industry, roughly 50% of our current year's revenues come from projects in our backlog sold at fixed prices. We've already taken a hit in the price increases to date and they continue to negatively impact our ability to reinvest in the business to remain competitive and maintain our current employment levels."

Canada, Mexico and the European Union were exempted from import duties of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum when the tariffs were first imposed in March, but those exemptions expired June 1, according to an article in Global News.

Merrill said price increases for domestic and Canadian steel will create a competitive advantage for foreign manufacturers, threatening Hussey Seating's longstanding dominance in the North American gym bleacher market.

"We employ 300 people with an annual payroll exceeding $15 million and sales exceeding $100 million, 98% of which are generated outside of Maine and we are a net exporter to Canada," he said. "These are the kinds of jobs this administration has committed to preserving. While we certainly endorse the notion of fair trade, inclusion of Canada in the Section 232 Trade Action hurts far more than it helps."

Merrill urged Gov. Paul R. LePage and the Maine congressional delegation to persuade President Trump and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to remove Canada from the Section 232 Trade Action.

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