Much has been said about domestic steel manufacturing vs. international steel manufacturing. Let’s be clear: It’s usually an issue of cost. International steel manufacturing is seen as being more affordable and plentiful compared to domestic options, but that isn’t always the case. When it comes to domestic steel fittings and international steel fittings, companies can actually find themselves losing money even if the international fittings sometimes seem like a better deal.
Let’s say that you’ve connected with an international company that provides superb customer support. But even if they have excellent customer support and English-speaking support personnel, they’re still in another time zone.
International dealings take time, and it isn’t always easy to communicate. It’s not possible to get everyone in the same room to talk about a project, because everything has to be done digitally. As they say, time is money.
With domestic producers, you’re able to meet face-to-face. That doesn’t just mean that you can get customer support more easily, but it also means that there’s less likely to be any confusion when it comes to your initial orders and troubleshooting.
Tariffs on International Steel Manufacturing
There are some serious tariffs on metal manufacturing today and these tariffs can be unpredictable. It’s possible that you could negotiate a contract today that becomes far more expensive tomorrow, through no fault of your own or the company you’re dealing with.
It makes sense: Every company wants to promote its own domestic production. But if you aren’t on top of the current tariffs (and the tariffs that could be coming up), you could experience issues down the line.
No one can really predict what tariffs might emerge or be taken away, as they’re the result of complex political situations both international and domestic. Because of that, people may want to avoid the situation altogether by working with domestic producers whose costs they can more easily anticipate.
Creating More Persistent Relationships
When dealing with international companies, you don’t always have assurances that the company will continue. It’s difficult to know whether a company has a longstanding relationship, or whether the company could be a fly-by-night operation. Even if the company is a strong one, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they might not go away due to issues that you aren’t personally aware of.
In short: It’s more difficult to maintain consistent, persistent relationships when you don’t know the country intimately. And any changes in trading relationships between the two countries involved could cause issues.
When you have a persistent relationship with a supplier, you waste less time on research. You don’t need to compare multiple companies every year to start sourcing your parts or go through the initial issues related to setup. Instead, you can have a single parts manufacturer and resource who knows everything about what you need.
Superior Labor Standards
Why is international steel less expensive? For the most part, it’s because of labor standards. International steel is less expensive because they have lower labor standards, which can lead to subpar work. That’s not to say that all international steel is subpar, but there’s a more prominent level of risk.
American companies have rigorous standards that they need to meet. That doesn’t just mean that the stele product is better, but also that the company itself is more likely to be consistent. There are less likely to be major issues occurring that could delay the manufacturing. That’s not to say that there aren’t companies that produce international steel up to current labor standards, but they aren’t likely to be as affordable.
Faster and Cheaper Shipping
Shipping itself can be expensive. Many companies specializing in steel fittings aren’t just expensive in terms of shipping, but it can also take a long time. You might find that your shipments take 30 to 90 days of lead time in addition to the actual manufacturing. But American companies are able to run faster shipping, including hot shot deliveries that can bring your products directly to you. If you need things faster, you may need a company that you can rely on. And when you need things like domestic oil pipe fittings, you might need them right away.
Better Financing Options
Many companies rely on financing. At a minimum, most people want a 30-day net. But international companies don’t always offer these financing options because it’s too risky for them. American companies can provide better financing options, including 30-day nets or payment plans. This provides better fluidity for the company; the company can better leverage its current assets to procure additional parts.
An Improved Reputation
Finally, a lot of people today are looking for “made in America” parts. The global economy is causing a lot of complexities, and there are many people who are concerned about the domestic economy. Knowing that they are supporting an American company can make a difference. The more you work with domestic companies, the more sales you may be able to procure from your positive brand identity.
That’s not to say there aren’t times when international fittings make sense. Business owners need to do their due diligence and compare their options. But they also need to make sure it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. There are the tangible costs of shipping and tariffs and the intangible costs of customer support and consistency. When it comes to fittings, it’s important to get high quality and a good price, and that’s something that domestic fittings can do.