July 2018

94 95 ities. If you’ve ever driven past a refinery, you see these tall columns of metal – those columns are pressure vessels; they’re built and shipped as one piece; they may be 150 feet high with a 12-foot diameter, and they store or process high pressure and temperature liquids and gases. One vessel may take over three months to build one unit. In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of that type of fabricated product imported from overseas.When these are built using foreign steel, foreign labor, with foreign government subsidies, American fab- ricators have a difficult time competing because the price is so much cheaper – even when it gets transported over the ocean a long way.We have a strong group doing advocacy to point that out to Washington. In late June, the Commerce depart- ment added these vessels to the list of metallic products to be taxed or tariffed at 25 percent when imported from China. That’s an example of something going on right now pertaining to advocacy.” Geyer gives credit to the steel fabricators themselves, for the continued existence of STI/ SPFA. “These fabricators are very adaptable,” he declares. “They face challenges, and they contin- ue on.When underground tank regulations came into place in the mid-‘80s, people were writing off steel tanks as a way to fuel American gas stations. In the ‘50s and ‘60s, steel tanks went into the ground and major oil companies put in tanks that didn’t have any corrosion control – they didn’t un- derstand that if you put steel in the ground, you could have corrosion. By the time the mid-‘80s came around, those tanks from the mid-‘50s and THE STEEL TANK INSTITUTE/STEEL PLATE FABRICATORS ASSOCIATION ‘60s had corrosion and were failing. “We came into play and wrote our own stan- dards before EPA regulated the industry.We had already been there. So, our industry knows how to survive different challenges. About 80 percent are family-owned businesses, and now we see a lot of second and third generations now taking over.We have one member in Indianapolis that’s in its fifth generation. They fulfill a role in their communities and that’s something you don’t read about. But I think a lot of our members are the backbone of America.” “From the public’s point of view, we’re pretty much invisible,” Bruce avers. “When I drive around, I notice gas stations, and I notice water tanks, but nobody else does. But here’s an association that is caring for the public in terms of safety and delivery of product, and longevity of equipment, all unseen infrastructure to most people.We’ve carried on for more than a hundred years, devel- oping those standards, and now they are fairly well-adopted, universally, in the United States, and becoming of more significant importance elsewhere.”