Between the US tariffs on imported aluminium and the EU’s tariff on American-made boats, one small boat manufacturer is already feeling the pinch and fears the future.
Marathon Boat Group (MBG), best known for the iconic Grumman brand, has been manufacturing canoes and pontoon boats for 65 years. The company has already been hit with a 10% increase in aluminium prices and is facing threats to its export business, which accounts for 25% of sales.
“It's been pretty good for the past two to three years. But this definitely can make you nervous,” Marathon CEO John Jackson said in an interview with Syracuse University radio. “The worst case... it can be devastating. We're not in a position to lose 25% of our business. We've already seen major increases in the aluminium market. For the first time, we had to increase our prices in the middle of the year.”
Jackson says they have to import certain aluminium alloys from Germany and other countries because US manufacturers can’t keep up due to demand from the auto industry. A European customer told him earlier this month they were cancelling a large order. "They said with the new duty that will be implemented, it would increase their cost by 25%, and there's no way they're going to order the product if that in fact became a reality,” which it did on June 22.
Having lived through the ups and downs of the boating business over the decades, Jackson said this situation does not bode well. “I think I understand they're trying to protect American jobs, but they're not going to protect them. We're going to lose them. If we can't produce a product in a competitive market, it'll go away.”
Jackson says they’ll work as long as they can, and will deal with the fallout if and when it comes.