How do the next six months look for your shop?
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  1. #1
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    Default How do the next six months look for your shop?

    It seems that lots of manufacturers and fabricators have been really busy this year, but there is still not a lot of hiring, and the uncertainty seems to drone on. What do members here think is coming in the next six months or so? Have you been busy and do you see it continuing?

  2. #2
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    Busy Jan thru June, slow July and Aug. Picked up about the 1st of the month, I have about a weeks worth of work now and nothing coming up as of now......future, no idea.

  3. #3
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    I am seeing things pretty much the same as Moonlight. A couple of months ago I thought things had turned around but now I am thinking it's further off.

    One of our products goes directly into the construction industry. Concrete mixers for concrete products plants are used mostly by the block, paver & pre-stressed pipe manufacturers. When these products are in demand we see an almost immediate increase in replacement wear plate orders. Over the last month these orders, already at 10% of 4 years ago, fell off to almost zero. My conclusion is that there will be almost nothing coming from the building industry.

    Another part of our business is making OEM parts for a couple of local manufacturers. This business is flat to a little down from 2 months ago.

    Our handrail and decorative steel business is also pretty flat. This depends pretty much on how well I can sell and market in our area.

    The only part of our business that is up is the walk-in and the repair work. We are out in the field much more than earlier.

    As a side note I am quoting much more but, even jobs where we are low bid, we find the customer is putting off placing orders or even deciding not to proceed. I have won several commercial handrail jobs only to see the overall project cancelled. A few large Government renovation jobs have been placed on hold until budget money is allotted. Some of these Government jobs have been in this holding patterns for over a year.

    We are at the point where we cannot downsize our workforce any more. Over the last couple of years I had to lay off our office clerk, our plant maintenance mechanic and our estimator. Where four years ago I had three machinists I now have only one. I am still keeping the same overall number of fabricators (Welders & Fitters) but have combined the saw and torch operator's job. I have taken no salary for the last 2-1/2 years.

    I really can't say what the future holds and at this point would sell the business for almost any reasonable offer. While we do not have any long term debt I am pretty sick of dealing the cash flow issue every week.

    Walter

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  5. #4
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    I have been booked solid for the entire year and have a month's work ahead of me right now. I just went to the AmCon Design and Manufacturing show in Cleveland OH yesterday and everyone I talked to said they are booked solid - with one of the guys saying they were already booked through the end of 2012.

    However, most of them said they are still reluctant to call back staff. The guy who said they were booked through '12 said that their problem is they can't find GOOD people.

    The guy my son works for said that he has banked a considerable chunk of money this year in order to bring on additional guys next year. Everyone seems to still be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Best wishes to you all.

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    I spent about 5 hours on a quote a week ago. It was as big a job as I have done in a long time. I found out today that another shop got the job. I need to figure out how I can get paid to quote

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  8. #6
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    Busy, have a back log of work and enough to keep us going until the end of 1st quarter of 2012. HOORAY!

    I beleive hiring will be different then before. People really learned what can be done with how many people. Finally, always amazed me how many people did very little in big shops.

    Gotta Love the USA!

    Athack

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  10. #7
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    It seems things have been very up and down since the 9/11 tragedy. My primary business was selling new boats, repair, and parts. We were doing well until the day the towers fell. Everything changed after that and the banking problems that popped up afterwards.

    I had been looking for something to enhance my boat business and to take up the slack during the slow times of the winter months that always left me held hostage to one finance company or another to get through the slow times. I decided that I would start a fabrication shop and we would build boat tops, T tops and just about anything else that a boat owner fisherman or hunter might want to chase his prey. I also decided to not only be able to build a custom fabricated top that someone might want to have installed on their boat but I would also make this top what ever color they wanted. This was the end plan anyway.

    My son was working for a large company as a welder and they were thinking about moving their operation overseas and he was worried about losing his job so he was looking to make a move so he came to work for me. I made a fairly large investment and bought a lot of tooling and machines to start up our top making venture and also started the 6 month long process of building a powder coat oven large enough to cure the powder on the tops and other things were had started to build. The first year was a bust but once we got a chance to show off our products things started to pick up and I even had thoughts of getting out of the boat selling business all together and just do repair and parts and hopefully one day get out of that part of the business altogether.

    I had a really good feeling that things were going to rock and roll and had plans for looking for a new larger place to do business from. Those plans were put on hold after the attacks because everything came to a stand still. We were kind of in the middle, had not gotten established in the fabrication business and the recreation industry is always the first to suffer with any downturn in the economy so the boat business began to be the same old anchor it had been before we started building tops.

    We had a really rough 3 or 4 years but managed to survive and for awhile I thought things were going to turn around then in 07 and early 08 things started to head south again and have been that way since. I was forced to close the boat business because boats were just not selling and everything we made went right out the door to the finance companies that floor planed the boats we had in inventory. My whole life, everything I had worked so hard to build was falling down around me so I decided to cut my losses and pull the plug on this cancer that was consuming everything around me.

    I had 7 people working for me and my company was doing 3 to 4 million a year in sales and at this point I was down to just me and my son and I was worried that I would not be able to keep him on board because things were that slow. Finally I talked him into going back to the company he had been working for because I didn't want to see him in the same shape I was in financially. Luckily for him the company had decided to keep part of the business here and it so happened the their main welder had just retired and they were looking to replace him so they hired him back. This took a great deal of worry off me and I decided to just try and ride it out as a one man shop doing what ever kind of work I could find and have been in that mode every since. I did have to move out of the big commercial building I was in because the rent was too much for the amount of work I was able to squeeze out of the economy.

    I had to take an early retirement just to help my wife with the bills and now most of my equipment is in storage while I build a shop here at home to put it in. I'll wait it out here at home and work out of my new shop with hopes that someday the politicians will quit doing everything they can to turn us into some kind of robots programmed to see government as the only solution to our every need.

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  12. #8
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    We didn't fall off much at all until this August, now it's slow and we may fall under the axe. Six or eight years ago there was a three-month dry spell with little work and it was tolerated, no layoffs in a four-man shop. Now we're three men and I don't know if a one-month dry spell will prevent a full shutdown. Seems to be different everywhere with some shops busy, others not - the difference seems to be what specialties are in demand, such that it is. The biggest difference now is fear. No confidence in the financial system or a government that should not be trying to run it. Why did the founding fathers know to separate church and state, but not banking and state?

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  14. #9
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    I do work for a couple fabricators and both are VERY busy.......but sadly, they haven't been bringing much work my way.

    In my area, quite a few manufacturing businesses are either adding machinery or adding to their floorspace. I've seen enough investment to make me believe that manufacturers are at least slightly optimistic that things will either stay at current levels or get better. I don't think anyone believes that things are going to get as bad as they were a few years ago.

    My shop is VERY slow at the moment, and I'm praying it's not a trend. I've quoted some work this morning that might turn things around.........hopefully. I can't see 6 months into the future.



    Frank

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    If the industry is anything like the Real Estate market at the moment... it's going to drop again. THEN it'll pick up, so start freezing your lemons, cause life isn't going to be giving many for a little while.

    I don't want to say it, but it's sadly how recessions always happen.... Let's be hopefull that it'll only be one more drop.

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    I work for one of those industries that acts like a canary in a coal mine...and the bird is looking a little tired, like it might just have a little nap. I think that another recession this time will be global, and hence deeper, and longer lasting. At 56, and from the rust belt, I've seen a few of these; I have never seen as many sinister looking blips on the scope as I do now. My employer is one of the world's most successful in (non manufacturing) category year in- year out. There are no bright spots on the horizon for us according to our management team. 2008/2009 was a non-event down here, BTW.

    Other voices: In the local press it has been reported that our mining companies will need a half million more skilled workers in the next few years. The minimum wage in that sector is around $100,000. That's for toilet cleaners.

    By contrast, we have an honest 5-ish% unemployment rate as the recession did not happen here in 2008. We need lots more skilled people than we currently have. Skilled= electricians, machinists, welders, heavy equipment operators etc. There are some welder jobs that pay more than 250,000+ pension right now. It all depends where on the "iron ore>China>Walmart vector you want to be.
    Last edited by Greg Quenneville; 10-01-2011 at 02:40 AM.

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    Over here in this part of the uk its not looking too bleak. We have been turning out some steel work, rsj type stuff on a par with the levels we use to 5+ years ago. Building work has definatly started to pick up around here. Work in general is more than enough to keep busy. But were very flexible with what we do and our prices are lower than a lot of the competition. Ie last week we done everything from steel beams to reproduction auto parts right though to dog agility training devices. Can't be too picky right now if you want to stay around for the future.

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    Very busy for the past three years. Looking to expand with more space. The only thing slowing the move is finding quality people. We subcontract the overload for now but most smaller shops can't keep up with schedule, quality or be competitve with price. I guess it's good problems to have compared to most. Any skilled people out there in the Long Island NY area?

  20. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by paceplane View Post
    Why did the founding fathers know to separate church and state, but not banking and state?
    Hi Everyone,

    It is my understanding that several founding fathers did warn against allowing bankers get control of the money supply - Thomas Jefferson comes to mind.

    He cautioned that bankers will create cycles of of recession & depression until they have cornered the money supply for themselves.

    I paraphrased a bit. but I know I'm not far off.

    Now that bankers & politicians are in bed together his words seem all too current.

    Best wishes to ya'll

    Sincerely,

    Jim
    Last edited by jhe.1973; 10-08-2011 at 11:35 PM.

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  22. #15
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    we do have a sharp downturn due to our country's economic policy and construction of railway pended. There are many CNC laser, plasma, waterjet cutting, welding workshops which working for factories who produce heavy mechines, construction machinery(and equipment) and other metalworks. But started from August, orders decrease continually.

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    busy as I can be,could hire a couple guys but have no intention of participating in Obama's recovery.Alot of the machine shops I know are pretty busy but are not going to hire anyone until the future looks more certain.If Obama wins in Nov,look for this pattern to continue for length of his term.God have mercy on our country.

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    still busy,there seems to be a shortage of young machinists being trained so the future definatly looks good in the job market.Problem I see is that a good machinist is still the most underpaid trade in America. I have been lucky but being in this trade and able to do CNC and manual maching has made the differance. Manual machining is becoming a lost art.

  25. #18
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    I have tried but still cannot understand why machinist are paid so little compared to other trades. Can anyone enlighten me.

  26. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by shazzam View Post
    busy as I can be,could hire a couple guys but have no intention of participating in Obama's recovery.Alot of the machine shops I know are pretty busy but are not going to hire anyone until the future looks more certain.If Obama wins in Nov,look for this pattern to continue for length of his term.God have mercy on our country.
    Close-minded much? Keep praying, that will make things better.

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    Seeing as this has come back to life again and i last posted 11 months ago i guess its time to go again.

    Last 11 months or so has been up and down. Kinda hard to see what's coming. But there has been plenty come in at least just randomly, it has been busy. Just unlike a few years ago there's never been much of a back log in the pipe line. Now its more frequent smaller orders than ever before. One day we might just about have caught up, the next we can be almost a week behind again!

    We have also done a fair bit of R&D some of which has let us pick up a new to us repeating contract for some bits. Customers previous supplier had gone to pot in both delivery and quality. We re engineered the bits + tooled it to suit our machinery and should be doing a 50 of trial run later this month of the 3 versions. Assuming that's successful + passes inspection (prototype already has ;-) we should start getting real orders qty wise starting December ish. The customers very local and this will result in them then sourcing over 90% of there metal components from us. Its a proven long term customer too so there should be no nasty surprises.

    Our problem is going to come if the euro mess ever gets fixed. When it does things are probably going to go nuts here. Add in the local planned new nuclear reactor + the final decommissioning of the old one and things look pretty survivable for a long while yet. Were the closest shop to them so even though we don't do anything too technical there's a never ending bunch of walk is for things like little brackets and fuel pool recovery equipment. Whilst you can not get rich on that kinda work it at least fills in the gaps.


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