Metal fabrication ready to take off in 2022

Every month Chris Kuehl, economic analyst for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl. and president of Lawrence, Kan.-based Armada Corporate Intelligence, publishes the Armada Strategic Intelligence System (ASIS), in collaboration with Morris, Nelson & Associates, Leavenworth, Kan. In it, Kuehl and his team outline a cross section of manufacturing sectors that touch the metal fabrication business. Throughout 2020 and 2021, nearly all of those sectors have experienced quite a ride. Business fell in early 2020, for obvious reasons, followed by a continued, albeit faltering, rebound as the global supply chain stumbled back to life. Parts of the metal fabrication business are running full out, others aren’t as strong as they could be—if only they had the material and people they needed to get the job done (see Figure 1).

“[We’re seeing continued] strong medium- and long-term demand trends across the end markets we serve, plus an increased interest in our services from a broadening range of companies,” said Bob Kamphuis, chairman/CEO/president of contract fabrication giant MEC, during a quarterly conference call with investors in November. “However, our company’s supply chain constraints have resulted in some near-term volume deferments.” This is happening not because of raw material shortages at MEC, but because of shortages at MEC’s customers.

Kamphuis added that the supply chains feeding MEC’s facilities in Mayville, Wis., and throughout the eastern half of the U.S.—including those for raw material—have caused “only minor disruptions. This means we remain ready when our customers are able to ratchet up their volumes again.”

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