At a service center outside Cleveland, Majestic Steel receives and processes metal from U.S. mills, then stores it in seemingly endless aisles of rolled steel. Each cylinder weighs several tons and, after the steel is shipped to customers, its final form could take the shape of a household appliance or an office building.
Some customers, such as those making license plates or road signs, need the steel as soon as possible. Others, such as those making garage doors or elevators for real estate, place orders several months in advance. That has presented a predicament for Majestic CEO Todd Leebow, since the uncertainty around President Donald Trump's tariff policies makes it difficult to price steel that far in advance.
"Customers are trying to figure out based upon these tariffs and potentially quotas how that changes their supply chain and who they are going to be buying their product from," Leebow told CNBC.
In the last three months, steel imported from China, Japan and Russia has become 25 percent more expensive, due to a new set of tariffs the White House announced on March 8. Steel from Europe and other allies is excluded temporarily. And there are new limits to how much steel and aluminum can be brought in from South Korea.