Surge in mold steel sales hints at economic recovery (December 14, 2001)
Several metals suppliers reported an upswing in sales of mold steel and aluminum in the last quarter of 2001 that c...
Several metals suppliers reported an upswing in sales of mold steel and aluminum in the last quarter of 2001 that could indicate economic recovery is on the way.
"Metal suppliers are usually first in, first out of a recession," explains Judy Wolfe-Foster, national sales and marketing manager with Thyssen Marathon. "October and November sales were up 15% compared with last year, and December opened with heavy bookings."
"I would wait for January numbers before readjusting my outlook, though," she adds. A similar spike in orders was seen in April and May of 2001 but it was not sustained in the following months.
Another Windsor-based steel supplier also reported stronger-than-expected sales for October, mostly of aluminum. Since aluminum is often used for prototype molds, it indicates that new product development and automotive programs may be picking up.
Dan Coll, who represents Buderus steels in North America, hasn’t experienced a noticeable increase in sales yet, but his understanding is that some automotive programs will be initiated in February.
Coll also reports that U.S. moldmakers seem to be more hard hit by this economic slump than their Canadian counterparts.
Similarly, Wolfe-Foster notes that certain segments of the moldmaking industry are already rebounding, due to a combination of North American and European work coming to Canadian moldmakers. "Consumables, such as bottles and containers, have been very strong. In automotive, we’re seeing new tooling requests from offshore automakers."
"The only down side is that the Big Three are not back yet."