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Illinois Firms Already Feeling Trade War Sting

Matt Roland
Brian Mackey
NPR Illinois
Matt Roland, president of Roland Machinery, says some suppliers have warned of price hikes up to 25 percent owing to the steel tariffs.

With America and China officially in a trade war, Illinois companies say they’re already seeing consequences.

Springfield-based Roland Machinery sells, modifies and repairs heavy equipment — like excavators, road graders and steamrollers.

Company president Matt Roland on Friday said suppliers are raising prices by as much as 25 percent — mainly on the blades and scoops that attach to earthmoving equipment.

excavator with tree-cutting implement
Credit Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois
NPR Illinois
Roland Machinery workers are adding a tree-cutting implement to an excavator arm. The Illinois Department of Transportation will use the machine to clear the right-of-ways around state highways.

“If you go behind this area, you’ll see a bunch of buckets,” he said. “These buckets are 100 percent steel, so it highly impacts that segment of our industry.”

In addition to its Springfield headquarters, the company has locations across Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin, as well as one site each in Indiana and Michigan. But beyond its regional footprint, Roland said his company is part of the global economy.

“We build machines all over the world and we bring them in from all over the world,” he said. “So it’ll affect us, but as long as the economy is strong, we can probably handle it.”

Brian Mackey formerly reported on state government and politics for NPR Illinois and a dozen other public radio stations across the state. Before that, he was A&E editor at The State Journal-Register and Statehouse bureau chief for the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.
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