Madison manufacturer supports tariff on bicycle products from China


MADISON, Wis. - While many in the bicycle industry are worried President Donald Trump's tariff on Chinese imports will raise their prices, the CEO of Saris supports it.

Chris Fortune said the 25% tariff will level the playing field for domestic manufacturing companies like his.

Saris makes bicycle racks, parking stalls, indoor trainers and other bike accessories at its manufacturing plant in Madison.

While many American bikemakers have outsourced labor and parts to China to save money, Fortune said 92% of Saris' sourcing and manufacturing comes from the state of Wisconsin.

"We wanted to be able to produce product in the United States. That was our mission, our goal 30 years ago. But it's tough right now because we're paying this duty already on steel and aluminum that our competitors aren't paying," said Fortune.

He said when the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum in March 2018, Saris had to pay more. Even though the company gets its metal from American suppliers, those suppliers took the opportunity to raise their prices, too.

Because of this, the cost of Saris products increased substantially just over a year ago.

"If they eliminated all tariffs, our prices would go down. But if they just eliminate those tariffs on the goods coming in (from China), we're not competitive because we're paying a higher price on steel and alluminum, and so it's a way to level the playing field for us. We need that," said Fortune.

The Madison area is home to other bike manufacturers, such as Trek, Pacific Cycle and Planet Bike.

While Trek and Pacific Cycle did not return News 3 Now's request for comment, Dave McMurray at Planet Bike said the company has been shifting from buying some of their products from China to getting them produced in Taiwan in order to avoid the new tariff.

However, McMurray said they can't shift all of their products to Taiwan. He said Trump's comment about the tariff not affecting consumers is inaccurate.

Although Planet Bike does not want to raise prices, McMurray said it will need to pass the extra cost on to customers.