Correct Craft CEO Bill Yeargin has warned Florida’s US Senators and their staff that the boating industry could lose 650,00 jobs nationally, with as many as 200 of them coming from the Orlando-based company.
“The marine industry is facing some significant challenges with the current trade war and our team appreciates the offices of our US senators being willing to listen to our concerns,” Yeargin said in a company statement. Correct Craft employs 1,300 people, including 600 in central Florida.
In separate tours of the Nautique boat plant on Monday, Yeargin hosted the staff of Sen Marco Rubio, as well as Sen Bill Nelson, to explain that the 10% tariff on imported steel and aluminium coupled with the 10-25% tariffs on some 300 Chinese-made component parts could have a chilling effect on what is currently a hot boating market, and that the retaliatory tariffs from the EU, Mexico and Canada are “potentially the most damaging”.
“[They] make boats significantly more expensive going into those countries. About 30% of our business relates to boats we ship into 70 countries around the world. And we’re concerned that the tariffs are putting those boat sales at risk,” Yeargin told the Orlando Sun Sentinel.
Sen Nelson, the ranking Democratic member on the Senate Commerce Committee, said the US was now in a “full-scale trade war” and will call for congressional hearings into the effects of the tariffs. But he warned that prior to the November mid-term elections, Republicans might not go along “if that’s going to be embarrassing to the White House”.
While Correct Craft has no immediate plans for employee layoffs, Yeargin hopes the tours will “create visibility on the issue” and the potential devastation to the boating industry.
“We believe the administration has done a masterful job bringing attention to [trade deficits],” Yeargin said. “But what we need now is to close the deal. In other words, don’t let this drag on to the point where it has a negative impact to our industry.”