CARLSBAD, Calif. The
aerospace and oil and gas sectors are the best-performing end
markets for the stainless steel industry, while the power
generation sector is lagging, industry leaders said at the
Metals Service Center Institutes (MSCIs) Specialty
Metals Division Conference in Carlsbad, Calif., last week.
The observations were made
during a March 22 panel discussion featuring Universal
Stainless & Alloy Products Inc. chief executive officer
Dennis Oates, Reliance Steel & Aluminum Co. senior vice
president for nonferrous operations William Sales and ATI
Allegheny Ludlum Corp. vice president and general manager for
sheet Terrence Hartford.
"There are clearly some end
markets that are better than others. Oil and gas continues to
be good; oil companies are investing a lot of money right now.
Power generation is not so goodI think the disaster at
Fukushima last year has impacted the nuclear business, and
coal-fired plants are being challenged with new regulations,
creating uncertainty. So energy is a mixed bag," Hartford
"Aerospace continues to be good;
our long-term view is strong there. And I think housing finally
is starting to return. Certainly housing starts drive so much
of what we make, with appliances and furniture and
so on," he added.
Oates agreed. "Aerospace is very
strong, and oil and gas is strong," he said. "Power generation
is an enigma for me. I think theres a pent-up demand
coming, but frankly two years ago I would have said the same
Panelists complained that
tightening regulations from the federal government, through
such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency, and
legislation such as the Dodd-Frank Act, has created burdens for
their business operations.
"We have a new transformer for
our melt shop that will make us more productive, but its
been sitting around for six years because we cant get
approval for it. I look at other companies that have capital
projects which cant go live because theyre not
getting the approvals. And theyre waiting not weeks, not
months, but years," Oates said.
Meanwhile, executive agreed that there is likely to be
further consolidation in the stainless industry in the coming