Steel price volatility has turned coated coil and sheet suppliers to the ailing HVAC market lean and mean

May 01, 2010 | 06:18 AM | Lisa Gordon

The worst might be almost over for residential builders, but with commercial construction still in the doldrums companies participating in the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) market are expecting the latter to put a damper on their business.

Players in the HVAC market are unlikely to see real recovery for the galvanized steel-intensive sector until 2012, even though the residential market appears to have bottomed out.

"This year is shaping up to be better because our mix is skewed toward residential. Last year was a disaster for residential. We are seeing improvement, but it is slim at best. We were in a recession for 18 months and I think the bottom hit at the end of December. While the bottom has been hit, I think it will be a slow, measured climb," said David Boggs, metal manager at Elkridge, Md.-based Lyon, Conklin & Co. Inc. The company, the largest independent Trane distributor in the country, also sells galvanized steel to ductwork fabricators.

"Across the board every one of our customers is struggling as we are. We are about 30 percent down from the heyday," he said, noting that around 70 percent of the company's business serves the residential market while the remaining 30 percent serves commercial real estate.....

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