Trump tariffs affect local steel buyers

Many designs by Ackenpucky Designs in Huntington involve steel or aluminum construction materials. (WCHS/WVAH)

People could see its work all over Huntington and never know it had a hand in the design of places such as Banhoff, Backyard Pizza, The Peddler and Blacksheep Burritos and Brews.

Ackenpucky design has made its mark all over the river city led by owner Jill LaFear.

LaFear does the design work and then, many times, builds furniture and set pieces for someone else to install. She said her passion over the last six years has come from her love for her hometown.

“It wasn’t so much about making my own mark,” LaFear said. “It was about building up the community I grew up in.”

LaFear announced last week her prices for steel based products would be going up 25 percent, because every scrap of aluminum or steel for signs, rails or anything else will cost her more to buy from Huntington Steel.

The steelmaker said the price hike was in response to President Donald Trump’s order to add a 25 percent tariff to steel, and a 10 percent tariff to aluminum imported into the United States.

"We've done so much steel on those spaces. There's no way that we can't increase the cost of those materials and that ends up coming onto our clients," LaFear said.

In a statement, Huntington Steel Chief Executive Officer Mike Emerson said the market has been preparing for Trump’s announcement since December of last year by hiking steel prices.

When signing the order, Trump said the tariffs would protect domestic steel industries from unfair foreign competition.

"The American steel and aluminum industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices,” Trump said. “It's really an assault on our country."

LaFear said she wasn’t sure if the tariffs would be good or bad for business; she just hoped it doesn’t stop progress.

"This isn't about politics as much as it is for business. Maybe in the end it will be best. We'll see," she said.

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