GHENT, Ky.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--North American Stainless (NAS) and its 1500 workers are producing thousands of tons of high-quality stainless steel used on the front lines of the U.S. healthcare system as it battles COVID-19, according to the company’s CEO Cris Fuentes.
As shortages plague the industry, the Kentucky-based facility is responding to the immediate increase in demand for high-quality stainless steel used in products such as ventilators, oxygen tanks, hospital beds, and more.
“We are proud to play an important role in America’s fight against the novel coronavirus,” said NAS CEO Cris Fuentes. “We have implemented new procedures to keep our workforce safe, and they show up each day to turn out high quality stainless that winds up in critical healthcare devices. We are a vital part of the American supply chain and take pride that it is American workers making the steel.”
NAS in Ghent, Kentucky is the largest, fully integrated stainless steel producer in the United States. As a result of their streamlined operation, NAS can quickly shift production, capitalizing on its flexibility to accommodate emergency orders. Across the country, NAS product is meeting the stainless needs of manufacturers and producers of critical medical infrastructure, including:
- Mask Decontamination Units – kits that enable healthcare providers to fully sterilize and reuse N95 masks that are in short supply.
- Ventilators – three separate grades of NAS-produced stainless steel for various parts.
- Medical Tanks – designed to hold oxygen and other critical medical resources, some of which are being sent to field hospitals in New York City.
- Hospital Beds/Tables – NAS ramped up production to ensure a business putting out 500 units a day has the materials they need.
- Lab Equipment/Medical Incubators – NAS is supplying the stainless necessary to produce key lab and hospital equipment.
- Cashier Shields – NAS stainless is being used to protect front line workers at grocery/pharmacy retail establishments.
“We are grateful that the Trump Administration designated stainless steel as essential, ensuring we can continue to supply critical resources manufacturers need in the COVID-19 fight. It is critical that American companies fill healthcare manufacturing needs. We cannot let our frontline workers be at the mercy of foreign interference in our supply chains,” Fuentes said. “President Trump was right to implement 232 tariffs against China, and he is right to protect American steel as a vital part of the healthcare supply chain.”
NAS is continuously making major investments in the Ghent, Kentucky facility that enable it to quickly shift and increase production to meet critical customer orders. Most recently, NAS invested 30 million dollars to upgrade and modernize one of its cold rolling mills and annealing and pickling lines, in connection with the taxation relief offered when the U.S. passed a tax treaty with Spain last year, at the behest of U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The company also credits its capital investment projects to the Trump Administration’s 232 tariffs that put them on a level playing field with its competition, including businesses subsidized by China.
For years, China has been working multiple angles to flood the U.S. market with government subsidized stainless steel, including constructing one of the largest mills in the world in Indonesia for Tsingshan Holdings, financed using the Chinese Belt & Road program and utilized as leverage to convince Indonesia to ban the export of nickel, raising the price of this critical raw material on the London Metal Exchange.
A recent CQ Roll Call report revealed that Tsingshan Holdings is sending a massive shipment of Indonesian-made, Chinese-subsidized stainless to Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI), with whom they have a joint venture. Prior to learning of this shipment, NAS had been supplying ATI with U.S.-made stainless steel slabs, just one of multiple U.S. producers with the capacity to fulfill ATI’s needs.
“In order to ensure that American stainless steel industry can continue to supply the needs of the market, the tariffs that leveled the playing field for U.S. producers like NAS must remain in effect. Beyond the dramatic disruptions caused by the pandemic, America’s leaders must not allow the Chinese to take advantage of the situation to further harm critical industries. Despite their efforts, NAS continues to forge ahead as a key supplier and we hope that our government will continue to ensure our domestic industry remains independent,” Fuentes concluded.