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Steel shortage, prices add to challenges on large construction projects

Published: May. 6, 2021 at 10:18 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - From lumber to chlorine demand and prices for some products are at or near an all-time high. Steel also makes the list.

Central Steel in Wichita is on solid footing with projects to keep its workforce going, especially with schools, but that hasn’t come without challenges beyond the company’s control. .

“The economy has been really good on schools. We have done most of all Maize and Goddard school work,” said Mark Loibl who busy all of the steel for the company. which then turns around and processes the heavy metal, constructing structures like beams on large building projects.

Central Steel recently finished up a load of about 400 tons heading to Iola High School. The problem is that currently, steel prices are through the roof.

“High, very, very high,” Loibl said.

Since the beginning of the year, he said steel prices have increased twice a month and are now up about 100 percent.

“Hopefully this will slow down, but we don’t see it slowing down,” he said.

Steel is the latest shortage to hit the economy recovering from a pandemic that has scrambled supply chains and set off sharp shifts in demand.

“A lot of the mills have decreased production, which drives the prices up,” Loibl explained.

In Wichita, Central Steel has actually hired more workers, but Loibl said he’s seen some projects put on hold due to the extreme price increase.

“It’s a roller coaster. You just have to stay on top of it,” he said.

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