GREENVILLE, Pa.—Rick Huether ’74, a member of the Board of Trustees at Thiel College, a leading liberal arts college in northwest Pennsylvania, has recently spoken on the national stage regarding aluminum and steel industry tariffs.
Huether, president of the Belcamp, Md.-based Independent Can Co., has been quoted in Voice of America, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Baltimore Sun and CNN Money discussing the impact tariffs imposed on imported steel. Independent Can Co. is a family business with two manufacturing locations in Maryland, two in Ohio and one in Iowa and 415 employees. In late July, Huether appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade to discuss the tariff’s impacts on his family’s business.
“Over the past 40 years we have had to redefine and retool our plants several times with the investments and training of new skills that are required,” Huether said. “Our employees represent brothers and sisters, fathers and sons that have worked for us over generations. We are as committed to our employees as we are to specialty cans being made in America.”
Huether testified that the tariffs will have a negative impact on Independent Can Co. He said he would like to purchase more domestic steel but U.S. producers are having a hard time meeting the company’s supply needs.
“We are the largest manufacturer of specialty tins in the United States,” Huether told VOA News—an online multimedia broadcast that reaches 236.6 million people weekly in 45 languages. “The tinplated steel that we buy is close to 50 percent of [the cost of] what we produce. It is the driver when there’s a change in our prices to the marketplace.”
Independent Can Co. is one of many companies in the U.S. impacted by the tariffs. In an interview with CNN Money on July 30, Huether said, “one of the frustrations is just not knowing.” Huether said the company can work around a steady and long-term price increase, but the immediacy of the tariffs created a price spike in a short amount of time.
The company has spent significant plant investments to compete with low-cost countries in the last five years.
“The more automation we added the more employees we hired and needed to train in high paying skilled trades,” Huether said. “We learned quickly that automation permitted us to protect the business we had and allowed us to reshore (bring cans produced in China back to the USA) a significant volume of tins, bringing jobs, steel and work back to the USA from China and other countries.”
Huether graduated from Thiel College in 1974 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in business administration.
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