Reflecting on the 2023 construction materials market (Part 1)

By |  April 12, 2024

The following transcript was edited for brevity and clarity from one of two concurrent Feb. 2 discussions at the 2024 Pit & Quarry Roundtable & Conference. Part 2 of this conversation can be found here.

Crush Mode’s Micah Tysver shared how rental activity was up for dealers in 2023 and that they got good utilization of their equipment. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

Crush Mode’s Micah Tysver shared how rental activity was up for dealers in 2023 and that they got good utilization of their equipment. Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

PIT & QUARRY: For producers, tell us about your construction materials sales in 2023 and how they compared with the previous year. For equipment suppliers, please share your observations of the 2023 construction materials market. Tell us about your sales of equipment in the last year. Did they meet your expectations or exceed them?

MICAH TYSVER (CRUSH MODE): From a dealership perspective, sales activity was down in 2023 quite a bit from what I experienced. Our rental activity was up, but we’re still getting good utilization of our equipment.

The sales activity being down was mainly driven by economic factors like high interest rates. People were hesitant to purchase equipment. Capex was tighter. But we were still getting a good utilization of our units from rental activity.

DOUG LAMBERT (SUPERIOR INDUSTRIES): 2023 was an exceptional year for us. We outpaced the forecast. It was a record sales year. It was a record year for backlog.

But, following up on what Micah said, we did see toward the end of the year that the rentals RPO was not converting. That suffered just a little bit.

The other thing we noticed is that as inflation went up, wages followed. That compounded the problem of finding people to stay with you instead of job hopping.

JAMIE JONES (CAPITAL AGGREGATES): Surprisingly, across all of our companies, sales volume was up about 10 percent overall last year. Except for our rural areas you really saw a decline. Our revenue growth was [up] almost 25 percent. So, we really saw some positive things, even though it was kind of unexpected.

STEWART PETROVITS (ROUTE 82 SAND & GRAVEL): We were probably within 1 percent of our 2022 production in sales, but margins were much improved. We went through three price increases in one season – and a fourth starting this February. It gave us the ability to raise our prices. So, we feel like 2023 was a very successful year – and I think 2024 will probably be better than that. There probably will not be increases in volume.

SCOTT ALEXANDER (SUMMIT MATERIALS): I’m responsible for our Western region, which, from an aggregates standpoint, is the largest aggregate production force in Summit. So I can speak in terms of our Western region.

We got off to a very, very slow start. It was weather related, and it was the worst year that anybody there can remember weather-wise in the first quarter. That kind of worked its way to the whole company in financial recording.

But we had a great recovery and a very strong fourth quarter. Overall, we went from a very poor performance to getting above expectations.

IRock Crushers’ Nate Russell (pictured in foreground): “We had a half dozen or so yellow iron dealers that had a massive influx of inventory from their primary supplier. It certainly put us in a unique position.” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

IRock Crushers’ Nate Russell (pictured in foreground): “We had a half dozen or so yellow iron dealers that had a massive influx of inventory from their primary supplier. It certainly put us in a unique position.” Photo: PamElla Lee Photography

NATE RUSSELL (IROCK CRUSHERS): The year was relatively flat, and there was kind of an interesting dynamic in the marketplace where we had a half dozen or so yellow iron dealers that had a massive influx of inventory from their primary supplier. It certainly put us in a unique position.

JOHN SCEPANIAK (WM. D. SCEPANIAK): Revenues were up while overall production was down. We saw a residual benefit of that with our operators, who weren’t running night shifts and weekends. We were still able to attract revenues.

GEOFF HAWKER (HAZEMAG): As other manufacturers have said, we had a very strong year. We had strong capital at the start of the year and lots of pre-project activity. You could see that it would slow down on capital conversions toward the end of the year, which, I think, is due to set rates to the capital.

We’ll just have to wait and see where that goes. We have a strong anticipation that these projects will turn into being successful in 2024 and toward 2025.

ALEX KANARIS (VAN DER GRAAF): Overall, we were down because of other business lines. But we had an increase in aggregates.

SARAH SMITH (XYLEM): 2023 was a very strong year for us within the mining segment. We saw really great results from sales and rental. We’ve been able to continue to increase our expansion across North America from a products standpoint, service capabilities, as well as our team and footprint presence across the country.

MATT NICHOLS (DODGE): We had a very strong year in 2023. The interesting thing that’s a little different from what I’ve heard here is we started to see in the last six months a lot of our OEMs and distributors start to bring their inventories down. A lot of them had built them [up] because of supply chain issues. They started to get confidence back in the market and bring their inventories back down. It has had a bit of an effect on our business.

ERIC ROSENOW (DYNO NOBEL): Our mobile pumping unit business saw a year-on-year increase. It was a strong year for us on the equipment side, and we have a healthy backlog for 2024.

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