Ashes to Ashes: Precast Concrete Adapts to a Changing Funeral Market

2015 marked a turning point for the US funeral and cemetery industry. For the first time, more Americans were cremated than buried underground.

Cremations have been on the rise since the beginning of the 21st century, due to changing religious and social preferences, and a desire to economize funerals. This trend has put many segments of the funeral industry under pressure, including the precast concrete industry.
Topics: Materials & Chemicals Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

The Future of the Frac Sand Market

The past decade has been an exhilarating ride for producers of frac sand, or silica sand used in hydraulic fracturing. North American shale oil and gas production has surged since 2010, bringing tremendous opportunities to the previously quiet silica sand industry. In 2014, the market for frac sand in North America was 20 times larger than it was a decade earlier, according to a recent study published by The Freedonia Group.

But for every boom, there is a bust. In late 2014, consumption began to decline as oil and gas prices plummeted across the world. Now, instead of embarking on ambitious expansions, frac sand suppliers have idled production and mining operations. The stock price of Fairmount Santrol, the US’s largest frac sand producer, dropped from $16.98 at the time of its IPO in 2014 to a low of $1.23 in January 2016.

Topics: Energy & Resources Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Cool Roofs Are Expected to Gain Popularity Across the US

Owners and tenants of commercial properties usually only think about their roofs when there is a leak that needs repairing. However, many are discovering that their choice in roofing materials can help them save on their bottom line. 

“Cool roofing” products help reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills — important considerations for all business owners. Materials are classified as “cool roofing” if they reflect a significant amount of sunlight off of a roof surface while also absorbing solar radiation. By doing so, cool roofs prevent heat from being transferred to the interior of the building, causing less strain on air conditioning and keeping cooling costs at a manageable level.

Topics: Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Motorcycles: Visions of the Future

The future of motorcycles is being forged today. Leading manufacturers are developing new technologies with the potential to revolutionize the riding experience. 

This wave of innovation, however, has garnered sparse news coverage. The media has focused on developments in the automotive industry such as self-driving cars and electric vehicles, paying little attention to similar trends in motorcycles. 

Topics: Transportation & Shipping Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

The Post-Election US Steel Industry

During the final two presidential debates of 2016, the candidates broadly discussed trade. In a brief exchange, Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton asserted that the dumping of steel and steel products from China, Japan, and South Korea into US markets has damaged the domestic steel industry.

Now that he is the President-elect, Trump’s plans for the beginning of his presidential term include tenets that reflect these concerns, such as withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and working with the Secretary of Commerce to end unfair trade. 

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

The Kigali Accord Leaves Refrigerant Manufacturers in the Cold

This month’s passing of the Kigali Accord marks a significant milestone in the development of the global HVAC/R industry. Signed by nearly 200 Montreal Protocol countries, the Kigali Accord represents a global commitment to combat climate change and, if successful, will result in the reduction of the equivalent of 70 billion tons of carbon dioxide between 2020 and 2050.

By singling out one type of refrigerant, hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), the Kigali Accord also presents a substantial challenge to both HVAC/R equipment manufacturers and users. 

Topics: Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Oil & Gas Production Fueled Hose Sales Over 2010-2015

Among the various hose types, demand for fluid power hose stood out as a star performer due to robust growth in US oil and gas production. Over the 2010-2015 period, sales of fluid power hose increased at an impressive average annual rate of 21%, largely attributable to rising sales in the US oil and gas industry. US oil and gas output (in terms of British thermal units) saw average annual gains of 7.6% over the 2010-2015 period, nearly three times the 2.6% average yearly growth from 2005 to 2010.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Heavy Industry

Eco-Friendly Products in the Commercial Window and Door Industry

Design trends in nonresidential buildings are increasingly making energy efficiency and environmental friendliness a priority. In few markets is this more evident than in the commercial window and door market. 

How is the commercial market different from the residential market?

The residential market is more directly impacted by energy standards, such as those of the ENERGY STAR program. These are regularly updated and often come with federal tax breaks for homeowners. Additionally, homeowners immediately benefit from the energy bill savings and more comfortable indoor environments associated with efficient windows and doors. 

Topics: Materials & Chemicals Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Shaw Acquisition Highlights Rising Demand for WPC Flooring

The recent announcement from Shaw Industries that it intends to acquire USFloors demonstrates the increasing demand for wood-plastic composite (WPC) flooring in the US.

WPC flooring — which consists of luxury vinyl tile (LVT) with a WPC core that serves as a backing — was introduced to the US by USFloors in 2013. This flooring’s attractive appearance and durability caused it to quickly gain acceptance among interior designers and homeowners. Seeking to capitalize on its popularity, several other hard surface flooring manufacturers developed their own lines of WPC flooring. 

Topics: Materials & Chemicals House & Home Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group

Material Trends in North American Remodeling Activity Begin to Favor Niche Products

Homeowners are remodeling again. They are on the lookout for products that compete with traditional high-end materials but come with a mid-range price tag. The underlying strength of the US housing market and the rising valuations of people’s homes are supporting robust activity in residential improvement, repair and remodeling.

This fact is underscored by the recent earnings of several big-box/DIY retail chains like Lowe’s and Home Depot. Home Depot reported in August that comparable (same store) sales rose by 4.7% in Q2 2016 over the same period in 2015 [1], and Lowe’s reported a similar 4.0% rise for its Q2 same store sales over 2015 [2]. Both stores expect full-year same store sales growth for 2016 to range between 4.4% and 4.9% as compared to the latest US Federal Reserve estimate of 2016 growth of approximately 2.0% [3]. Home Depot’s CEO, Craig Menear, specifically called out generally rising home valuations as the basis for his company’s optimism going forward regarding sales growth and overall residential renovation spending.

Topics: Materials & Chemicals House & Home Manufacturing & Construction Industry Insights Heavy Industry The Freedonia Group