Observations from the Front Line


Road Warrior

As a “Road Warrior” Sales Engineer, I relish the opportunity to speak with extruders that manufacture a wide variety of products up and down the eastern seaboard. One of the fascinating things about the aluminum extrusion industry is that it is connected by a process, not necessarily a product. These products range from picture frames to military assault rifle sighting systems. When I want to know how the economy is fairing, I don’t turn on the news. I ask my customers. With such a wide variety of grassroots, American made products one can really get a feel for where the trends are shifting.

One thing is for sure, if you have ever wanted a used extrusion press, now is the time to pick one up. With all of the closings of plants, presses as well as paint lines are being shuffled around the country. I know several extruders who have purchased a used press or paint line and are just sitting on them until they have the manpower or funds to install them. Some of this equipment can be had at auction as such a low price, that competitive extruders can’t afford not to buy them. For those of you who have always wanted an extrusion press in your own home, now is the time to buy, but you might want to consider checking with your local zoning ordinances not to mention your significant other. In the past month I have seen an increase in business relating to architectural products as well as automotive. So much that I hear complaints relating to a lack of personnel rather than the lack of business. Many extruders laid off more than half of their employees during the lean times, only to be bombarded with orders. Getting these employees back has been difficult. This is also the case in maintenance. I deal primarily with maintenance personnel because of their very intimate knowledge with what works and what doesn’t relating to handling equipment.

In the past couple of months they have had very little spare time to talk to me because they are often on the floor operating the press. The automotive related products have improved and I expect to see an increase in production in the Ohio area when GM begins producing the Chevrolet Cruze in their Lordstown plant. Aluminum is becoming more and more a part of mainstream auto manufacturing with the emphasis towards lightweight, fuel efficient vehicles.

Based on my casual observations it seems like we are clawing our way out of this recession. I have seen extruders make some tough decisions in order to stay alive. It has been very much survival of the fittest. Often I hear people around me say that American manufacturing is dead. I assure them that it is alive, well and viable. You just have to know where to look.

-Nick Rossi
Lewiston, Maine


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