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Manufacturers optimistic as they look to coming months

By |  April 19, 2022
Pierce

Pierce

Will Pierce cannot recall a time quite like this for the aggregate industry.

Fortunately, that’s a good thing.

“The health of this industry is better than it’s ever been in the 10 years I’ve been involved in it,” says Pierce, vice president of engineering at Schurco Slurry. “It’s really exciting to see. I’m excited to see what 2022 will hold. I feel like the past several years are in my rearview, and I’ve broken the rearview mirror off. We’re moving on, and it’s exciting.”

Pierce was one of several equipment manufacturers at AGG1 who shared their excitement about the industry’s direction. 

“We’re all busy,” says John Bennington, product manager of washing and classifying at Superior Industries. “With the infrastructure bill being passed and just coming out of COVID, there is more to do. Pretty much all of the manufacturers are busy. All of our customers are very busy. It’s exciting to see business come back so robustly.”

Chad Hackett, president of Durex Products, is also enjoying the moment.

“Everyone is booming now,” Hackett says. “All of our customers are busy. They don’t slow down. Customers are finding ways to produce longer. There aren’t the normal shutdowns like there were. Demand is out there, so they just keep cranking away, which is great for all of us.”

Supply still top of mind

Manufacturers found plenty of producers to engage at AGG1. Photo: P&Q Staff

Manufacturers found plenty of producers to engage at AGG1. Photo: P&Q Staff

Frustrations remain, though. The supply chain is still very much on everyone’s mind, but manufacturers and producers alike are finding ways to navigate through it.

“The fact that we went basically from very low productions to very high productions has caused everyone a lot of problems,” Bennington says. “Everybody is working hard – as hard as they can to get caught up and get everything to the customers as fast as they can.”

Chris Larson, general manager of IRock Crushers, agrees.

“There’s a lot of supply chain planning, forward ordering, more vendor-managed inventory [and] actually getting the stock on the floor and seeing it,” Larson says. “That doesn’t help cash, but in this climate people would much rather have it than not have it. There’s a reasonable investment in that where just-in-time is no more. That whole philosophy is out the window, at least temporarily. I’m sure we’ll go back to it at some degree.”

Availabilities, costs and inflation are among the variables Pierce is watching.

“Manufacturers are coming and going, getting acquired [and] things are being obsoleted,” he says. “So having trust in supply chain is very important right now – [but] it’s very uncertain all at the same time.”

Let the good times roll

Still, Pierce and other manufacturers aren’t letting existing headwinds get them down. They’re excited about the opportunities ahead.

“The thing most exciting for me to see out there [is] that our customers are excited,” Pierce says. “The excitement, growth and energy in the general industry right now is at a level I haven’t seen before.”

For Pierce, the increase in government infrastructure funding is the factor he’s most excited about.

“We’ve got an infrastructure bill, we’ve got excitement, we’ve got growth – and from all fronts,” he says. “We’ve got private development, public development, private enterprise, producers who are investing in the future. We’ve got manufacturers like ourselves who are investing in the future and trying to develop products that are more sustainable. We continue to grow and build, but do so in a way that makes way for the generations to come.”

Kevin Yanik

About the Author:

Kevin Yanik is editor-in-chief of Pit & Quarry. He can be reached at 216-706-3724 or kyanik@northcoastmedia.net.

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