Steel tube and pipe: Higher and hiring

Apr 24, 2014 | 07:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  hiring, Alan Beulieu, Institute for Trend Research, Josh Cole, Crowe Horwath, Michael Portnoy, PricewaterhouseCoopers, worker retention shale gas

The ongoing boom that shale gas extraction has created for the steel tube and pipe sector has not come without its downsides, including issues of overcapacity, import competition and political fallout. But another problem that often has been overlooked is a lack of sufficient skilled labor to help steelmakers cope with production. 

One of the side effects of mills ramping up now is that qualified personnel are becoming harder to find. “Specialty skills are especially rare. Pipe mill operations—those people are tough to find. Heat-treat expertise in particular is one of the hardest to find,” said Buddy Brewer, chief executive officer of Borusan Mannesmann Pipe U.S. Inc., the Houston-based subsidiary of Turkey’s Borusan Mannesmann Boru Sanayi ve Ticaret AS.. 

Alan Beaulieu, president of the Institute for Trend Research, a Boscawen, N.H.-based consultancy, said at a Metals Service Center Institute conference last fall that “bidding wars” for qualified workers will lead to wage inflation. “You need to be using 2014, an off year, to get ready for what’s coming on the other side,” he said. That might mean expanding, de-bottlenecking or acquiring key staff. “Whatever your constraint is ... fix it in 2014 because you are not going to have time in ’15, ’16, ’17 because of all the right things going on in this country.”....

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