Pipemakers book a steady stream of orders despite housing bust

Oct 01, 2009 | 09:33 AM |

Looking at the number of water line projects Northwest Pipe Co. has landed so far this year indicates a booming market, but appearances can be deceiving.

The Vancouver, Wash.-based company won two orders amounting to $18.5 million in February, three orders totaling $32 million in June and another $6.2-million order in July. But Brian Dunham, Northwest Pipe's chief executive officer, said he wouldn't necessarily use gushing terms to describe the market, despite the seemingly large size of its orders.

"It's been strong for several years now, with new record highs in terms of market activity for the last three years. It's not significant increases, but small increases," he said, noting that the number of jobs booked by Northwest Pipe fell at the end of 2008 to end the year at a level that was slightly less than what the company booked in 2007. "I think it's going to be up again this year," Dunham added.

Likewise, Texas Pipe Works Inc., Longview, Texas, which manufactures connections for downhole tubulars used in water wells, is seeing work, but not at previous levels. "If I'm remembering correctly, (2007) was a really good year," said Craig Medley, Texas Pipe Works' vice president of sales. "All that was residential work. Then it all started tapering off in 2008."....





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