Owners of Pacific Boat Trailers Embrace American-made Steel and Aluminum

By Jeffrey Bonior
Pacific Boat Trailers employs 20 people and sources all of its steel and aluminum in the United States. | Photos courtesy Pacific Boat Trailers

California company sources its materials in the United States.

Opponents of President Trump’s decision to act on steel and aluminum imports argue that while the action will help American steelworkers and manufacturers, it also could lead to unattended consequences for steel consumers and rising consumer prices on everything from a six-pack of beer to a new car.

Jeff and Karen Ash

But Jeff and Karen Ash aren’t worried.

The Ashes, owners of Pacific Boat Trailers in Chino, Calif., even issued a press release announcing that their company will NOT be raising prices once the tariffs are implemented. The decision was a simple one, because Pacific Boat Trailers has – and always will – buy American-made steel and aluminum.

“I love our country and that’s one of the reasons I’m doing it,” said Jeff Ash. “Another reason is that it is such an easy decision to make, because the quality is so much better with domestic steel and aluminum. When you buy American steel, you know what you are getting – top quality. I think it’s short-sighted to think it is going to hurt our economy.

“We are not going to raise prices because of the tariffs. I’ve always bought American and people know that and that’s why our company is thriving. It’s the only reason I put it out there, because I got sick and tired of people complaining about these tariffs. We need the jobs here. I don’t care about China. I care about America.”

Pacific Boat Trailers makes steel-framed trailers used by boat owners to transport their pleasure craft and fishing vessels to the nearest boat launch. The trailers launch boats into fresh water lakes and the salt water of the Pacific Ocean.

Ash says that special care must be given to trailers in constant contact with salt water and that the top-quality American-made steel is up to the task.

“I get my steel from Nucor, which is the largest steel company in the country right now,” said Ash. “We are committed to them. We don’t use a lot of aluminum, but when we do we get it from Coast Aluminum. On my account, when orders are placed, it says ‘domestic only.’ China steel is not even comparable. It’s poor quality.

“We buy from the Nucor mill direct. We have a 30,000 square-foot building with stacks of 20-foot sticks of steel. We bend it, cut it and weld it on a jig before we send it out to a local galvanizer. The galvanizing has to be perfect to protect the steel from the salt water, otherwise it can rust. We are also starting to use powder coating on top of the galvanized steel. When both galvanizing and powder coating are used is creates a much longer lifespan and even better salt water protection.”

Pacific Boat Trailers is a family-owned company that began in the San Francisco Bay area more than 40 years ago under the direction of Karen Ash’s father, Roger Treichler. The company moved to Anaheim in Southern California in the late 1980s, and eventually opened its manufacturing facility in nearby Chino. A distribution center and warehouse remain in Northern California.

The manufacturing plant in Chino sits on a family-owned parcel of 3 ½ acres of land and the 20 employees build about 800 trailers per year. Pacific Boat Trailers manufacturers trailers from as small as 14-feet long for zodiac inflatables to those more than 40-feet long to accommodate larger vessels.

“The quality is so much better with domestic steel and aluminum. When you buy American steel, you know what you are getting – top quality.” Jeff Ash, owner of Pacific Boat Trailers

The Ashes are in the planning stages of opening another facility in the Pacific Northwest to be closer to boating communities in the state of Washington. They will continue to use American-made steel and keep their prices competitive.

“I think it’s ridiculous to think it’s going to hurt our economy by these tariffs,” said Jeff Ash. “I think it is a brilliant idea. It’s hard to compete against a country like China where steel is subsidized by the government. They send their steel to other third-party countries that eventually makes its way into the United States. China’s entire goal is to get all of the market share across the world so they can have a monopoly. We are going to stop it.

“The Chinese steel is complete garbage. It’s not a free market concept. We are not just competing against their businesses, we’re competing against a country and a business. It’s ridiculous.”

China manufactures 50 percent of the world’s steel capacity and much of its steel makes its way into the United States through other countries such as Vietnam, South Korea, India, Turkey, Indonesia, and Brazil. These unfairly-traded imports pose a threat to our domestic steel industry.

“Trump said the other day a country that doesn’t make steel is not a country,” said Ash. “I agree with him 100 percent. These tariffs will continue to lower unemployment and increase our GDP in this country.”

There is also the matter of America’s national security and our ability to ramp up production for military equipment in times of war.

“We used to be a country that built things on steel and I’ll be damned if we are going to ask China to make submarines and boats and airplanes for us,” said Ash. “We have to do our own stuff.

“The downside to not doing this is catastrophic. If the steel and aluminum industries leave this country we are in a world of hurt. You won’t have to worry about an extra penny for a six-pack of beer,” he added.

“I’m a fiscal conservative guy all day long, but I’m a big picture guy, too,” Ash said. “So, I don’t care what side of the aisle you’re on, left, right, center, it doesn’t matter if steel and aluminum leave our country. These industries have been getting worse and worse but these tariffs will help us be competitive again. The tariffs will help fix that and I am trying to support the president.

“Other manufacturers should buy American steel and aluminum to help our workers. This can certainly be done without any significant raise in pricing.

“We buy American steel and are doing just fine. We could all run our businesses cheaper and make more money if we got everything from China and Mexico but at some point, we have to help the people at home here. Enough is enough.”

For purchases, servicing and parts visit Pacific Boat Trailers online.