Soaring steel costs hurt many small fabricators “When President Bush imposed tariffs on steel imports in 2002, the folks at Metal-Matic Inc. in Minneapolis watched helplessly as customers left to buy their car parts from competitors in Spain and Germany with access to less-expensive steel.

It’s been nine months since Bush repealed those tariffs, but those customers haven’t returned to Metal-Matic.

‘We lost $25 million in annual business to Europe because of the tariffs on imported steel. We are still trying to make up for that lost business,’ said Robert Baldauff, manufacturing manager of the 600-worker operation, which buys steel to make tubular hatchback lifts, shock absorbers and door stiffeners.

‘Those were good, efficient sales that we lost, and we will never never get that back. To make that up, we had to take a large number of small jobs that were not as efficient. Our profits are down.’ “

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