Tariffs having major impact on Utah small business, congressman says

OREM — International trade is growing concern for many Utah small businesses as the impact of sanctions imposed by the Trump administration impact the bottom line of companies in the Beehive State and across the nation.

Rep. John Curtis, R-Utah, focused on the problem during an International Trade Conference Thursday in the Sorensen Student Center at Utah Valley University, which included a panel discussion on tariffs. Curtis said trade and tariff policies in Washington are currently affecting businesses in Utah, but the ultimate goal is to help firms and producers nationwide prosper in the long term.

“It’s very clear that this is a big deal and that it’s hitting them in substantial ways, especially small businesses,” he said. “One of our responsibilities is to talk about what is happening to them, understand what is happening to them and move through this (process) as quickly as possible to get them to the other (positive) side of this.”

In June, the Trump administration imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum from Canada, Mexico and the European Union. The move was preceded in January by tariffs on foreign-made solar panels and washing machines. In September, the president levied more than $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods, one of the country’s top international trading partners, which retaliated with sanctions of its own.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, $568 million in Utah exports to China are being threatened by retaliatory tariffs, explained Miles Hansen, president and CEO of World Trade Center Utah.

“An analysis by WTC Utah shows that the state industries primarily affected by Chinese retaliatory tariffs include aluminum recycling, ranchers and beef processing, plastics manufacturing and agriculture,” he said.

Since the tariffs were imposed, the major impact has been felt by small- and medium-size businesses across the country, threatening the survival of many, Curtis said.

“If they can survive, there is good news and hope on the other end,” he said. “But the biggest question is can we get them through this period?”

“We have to,” he added. “We don’t have a choice.”

Curtis said getting the tariff strategy to work in the United States’ favor will require strengthening relationships with other trading partner countries to provide the manufacturing services so heavily relied upon through China right now and to work hard at getting new trade agreements in place, such as the revised North American trade deal that was renamed the United States-Mexico-Canada …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News


New Utah Best Buy is company’s first U.S. store in 7 years

FARMINGTON — How are they still around?

While the world has witnessed the steady decline and demise of big-box electronics stores since their heyday in the ’80s and ’90s, Best Buy has continued to navigate a successful path forward in the face of aggressive competition from online retailers.

And now the 35-year-old Minneapolis-based business is doing something else entirely unexpected — opening a brand-new store in Farmington.

Heather Tuttle

It will be the first new U.S. outlet for the company in seven years and is, perhaps, the physical manifestation of a winning business approach that Charles Darwin would have appreciated — adapt or die.

Bret Nelson is the general manager of the new store in Farmington’s Station Park and a 12-year veteran of the company. He believes Best Buy has distinguished itself from online competitors through providing both pricing value and something that the digital ether can’t offer shoppers — an in-person experience with expert help.

“I think our key is the training we put into associates,” Nelson said. “The company has spent a lot of money on training our staff and making sure they have the product knowledge to demonstrate and show what’s possible.”

Best Buy has also adopted programs to extend in-person customer service beyond the walls of their expansive retail outlets. The company purchased Geek Squad, a roving tech support startup, back in the early 2000s and more recently expanded in-home services with a subscription-based Total Tech Support service. The company also offers free visits and consultations from a team of its In-Home Advisor program that can provide insight and direction on customers’ technology and appliance needs.

University of Utah professors Arul and Himanshu Mishra teach marketing at the David Eccles School of Business, and both specialize in consumer behavior. In an email interview with the Deseret News, the Mishras wrote that in-person assistance, particularly with purchasing high-tech products, can be a powerful differentiator for buying decisions.

“Tech products are constantly changing and it is difficult for customers to keep track of the constant updated models,” the Mishras said. “The added features are also abundant and it is difficult to convey all possible information online. Having a person explain to them the benefits from features is preferred rather than gleaning that information from other customer reviews.”

The Mishras also noted that consumers are typically “cognitive misers” who want to make a decision quickly and efficiently and “prefer to talk to another individual and …read more

Source:: Deseret News – Business News


Starkist Agrees to Plead Guilty in Tuna Price-Fixing Scheme, Faces $100 Million Fine

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Authorities say StarKist has agreed to plead guilty to price fixing as part of a broad collusion investigation of the canned tuna industry.

Federal prosecutors announced the plea agreement Thursday and said the company faces a fine up to $100 million. Bumble Bee Foods last year pleaded guilty to the same charge and paid a $25 million fine.

Chicken of the Sea has not been charged because prosecutors say the company exposed the scheme and cooperated with the investigation.

Two former Bumble Bee executives and a former StarKist executive also each pleaded guilty to price-fixing charges.

Former Bumble Bee chief executive Christopher Lischewski has pleaded not guilty to a price fixing charge.

The three companies are accused of conspiring to keep canned tuna prices artificially high between 2010 and 2013.

…read more

Source:: Time – Business