Photos by Matthew Foster
By Talia Perrea
Tucked into a little corner of Burlington, just across the river from Winooski, on six acres of land, lies Queen City Steel. Queen City Steel, is a steel manufacturer that has been around since 1957. Amongst the dirt and rust, tucked into a little corner near the Intervale, Queen City Steel sits on its own little metal paradise.
Walking into the metal building that houses Queen City Steel is like walking into your grandfather’s garage. Metal is stacked into piles that make sense only to the people who work there, and heavy machinery used for metal bending is scattered around. Narrow walkways line the room, creating a maze of sorts, that only really make sense to the eight people that work there.
Originally Queen City Steel was opened by Arthur Goldfield in 1957 as a salvage yard that made steel on the side, but over the years the company’s focus has changed.
Jeff Goldfield, the current president of Queen City Steel and son of Arthur Goldfield described Queen City Steel as, “the Home Depot of the steel industry.” On March 1, President Trump announced his intention to place a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports.
Aside from moving their location in 1978, due to the railroad terminating their lease in an attempt to clean up the waterfront. “You’ve got five years to get out,” Jeff Goldfield recalled when telling the story of how they ended up on their current property. Queen City Steel hasn’t changed that much throughout the years.
“Over the years we’ve kept the salvage yard, but the focus has changed from salvage to more new steel,” Goldfield said. Queen City Steel operates with a total of eight employees, and keeps a tight ship. “I can probably sit here for an hour and name off all my customers,” Goldfield said with a laugh, when thinking about how many customers he works with.
Justin Gillies, the production manager at Reliance Steel, is one of Goldfield’s customers. “Oh man, I don’t even know… 20 plus years,” Gillies said when asked how long Reliance Steel and Queen City Steel have been working together.
According to Gillies, “[It’s] interesting and difficult,” to be in the steel industry in Vermont. Queen City Steel helps with this. “They definitely help out,” Gillies said, “They can pick up and deliver.”
Goldfield is concerned by the new steel tariff. “It’s not going to help matters,” Goldfield said, “within the past six weeks our wholesale prices to us have gone up 20-25 percent or more. What’s really tough is to explain it to the everyday Joe, who doesn’t necessarily understand what’s going on with the steel business.”
Queen City Steel buys their steel from a Canadian supplier, and as a manufacturer Queen City feels the negative impact of the new steel tariff
Reliance Steel isn’t one of these customers though, as they understand what Queen City Steel is going through. “We don’t blame them for anything,” Gillies said, referring to the higher cost of the product. “It’s making things more chaotic,” Gillies said in reference to the impact on the steel tariff.
“I’m hoping we’re just be able to keep going and survive through this whole thing,” Goldfield said.