Business Forecast

2021 Supplier Forecast

The following are responses from GAWDA suppliers across North America about what they expect to see in 2021. To see video interviews for those suppliers who participated, visit the GAWDA Media channel on YouTube or check buyersguide.gawdamedia.com to see individual
company responses with embedded videos.
Thank you so much to all who participated!

Weldcoa expects sales to be up in 2021. “The disruptions that occurred this year didn’t cancel any projects. It put them on hold,” says President and Co-Owner Hector Villarreal. “In fact, it sped some of them up. But ultimately, I think a lot of projects that were put on hold are going to come back online with next year’s budget and we’re going to see an increase because of that. I think a lot of people have been very conservative in their buys, just buying what they need. And I think a lot of people have pushed that as far as they can and at some point there has to be a restock.” Villarreal notes that since the pandemic, many companies, including Weldcoa, have become very mobile in the new environment. The company introduced its Weldcoa Wednesday training videos as a way to stay in touch with customers while remaining socially distant. “I believe that if you’re not already creating value through digital resources, you’re behind the eight-ball now,” he says. “We were ahead of the curve, so when COVID hit, we just presented it in a different way and ramped it up and turned that content into webinars.” Villarreal believes that we are at a time that calls for government interaction to stimulate the economy and that if that happens, the economy and the industry will rebound quickly in 2021.

As the pandemic subsides, SafTCart is hopeful that its sales division will be able to take a more hands-on approach with customers in 2021. This will lead to an expected 5-10% growth, according to Marketing Manager Ann Elizabeth Upchurch. “People wanting normalcy will greatly impact their spending habits in 2021,” she says. “We are continuing to see an improvement as things begin to get back to normal. We hope capital budgets from the majors will increase this year.” SafTCart continues to bring innovations and new products to the forefront and believe these innovations will help grow its business in the future. It continues to focus on the package gas industry and growing its business through distributors.

2021 will be a level year for Cavagna North America according to David S. Ellis, Vice President, Sales and Business Development, Compressed Gas Division. Capital spending curtailment and an appetite for improved profits preventing growth strategies from gas companies will both hinder growth in the new year. Ellis also believes that the increasing pricing of global brass and copper will continue into 2021. “In 2020, our sales improved in the medical space,” says Ellis. “At this point, we believe the necessary assets are in the field, so we see no continuation of improved medical sales, even if the virus surges again.” Cavagna plans to launch a new line of compressed gas regulators in the second half of the year. Says Ellis, “The VIPR (valve integrated pressure regulator) continues to grow in North America. Gas companies in this market are realizing the benefits that their global counterparts have taken advantage of for years.”

While Buffalo, New York-based Dynabrade, Inc. saw its sales decrease in 2020 compared to 2019, the company determined that it had gained market share against its competitors. That, combined with the fact that the company’s welding channel outperformed Dynabrade’s other channels, leads Welding Supply Channel Manager Lexi McDermott to forecast a 20% growth in 2021, as Dynabrade continues to gain in market share. “Thankfully, a majority of this industry is deemed essential to keeping our country open and running,”” says McDermott. “Due to this, we believe that our sales will remain neutral in the start of 2021, with strong positive growth later this year.” Dynabrade is planning to release at least ten new tools or configurations in 2021. “We are constantly working on improving our current offerings and developing new tools and accessories to meet market needs,” McDermott says. “We know that GAWDA distributors sell into a wide range of end users, some way outside of the industry and we want you to know that we can support you in all of them. Being newer to GAWDA, we are looking to add distributor partners in 2021. We feel that the right distributor partner, with proper training, is a great extension to our market reach.”

John Kaylor, President of Abicor Binzel USA, projects a robust 20% growth for the company in 2021, believing that COVID will be in the rear-view mirror by the end of the second quarter. The pandemic set Abicor Binzel USA back from its five-year plan and Kaylor believes that the economy will see more of a U-shaped recovery returning to 2019 levels by the beginning of 2022. The company has product launches planned for 2021 which will help contribute to the expected growth and it continues to see growth in markets like weld fume control from increased regulations and awareness of welder safety. One other thing that the company is keeping its eye on is the impact of the current tariffs on China and changes in the U.S. administration.

Adding new customers and increased sales on the medical side will lead to a 12% increase for ICS Industries, Inc., according to President Kevin Shanks. The company has increased its resources on the medical side due to the pandemic, which has aided in growth and which Shanks expects to continue to grow through 2021. Shanks also notes that the propane market has been increasing for the past several years, serving as a growth market for ICS.

Continued COVID-related restrictions leads Cosen Saws North America Director of Sales Kent Hughes to forecast a level year in 2021. Hughes notes that, in addition to the threat of continued restrictions, transportation costs continue to rise. “We’re forecasting cautiously for the first half of the year and then rebounding in the second half,” says Hughes. “We just opened a warehouse in Canada and we will put more focus there and in Mexico.” Hughes notes that he is concerned about a delayed economic impact that has not been seen yet due to COVID and the prolonged shutdowns.

“Our customers who are into medical oxygen and medical gases have done okay this year, but the industrial business has been down dramatically,” says Kaplan Industries Executive Vice President Jim Johnston. “Our expectation is that as we get through the year next year, that demand is going to come back and there is going to be a need for additional cylinders.” That returning demand will help propel Kaplan Industries to a 5-10% increase in 2021. Kaplan is very excited about a new 15,000 sq. ft. facility that it is building that is expected to come online in the middle of 2021. The building will house more inventory, allowing Kaplan to continue to be a “just-in-time” supplier. Johnston expects a modest U-shaped recovery in the early part of the year but once we get past March, he expects the recovery to pick up steam. Kaplan recently started doing more with extraction gases for cannabis, and that segment of the business has been growing dramatically. The company believes it will continue to be a growth market going forward.

“We are looking at an increase well into the double digits, as the growth we were experiencing pre-COVID continues and North America gets back to business,” says Exocor President and COO Paul Kinsella. “Everyone should see a recovery, as the underlying business environment is good.” Kinsella expects that the end of 2020 and possibly Q1 2021 will be slightly sluggish, as people gradually return to normal, but predicts that the latter three quarters of the year will be very strong.

DataWeld Incorporated expects to see a 5% increase in 2021 on the back of its new product offerings. “We have been able to close business because of our ability to perform our software installations without having to travel to the distributor site,” the company says. “We expect our software business to expand in 2021. We are looking to hire people and will be releasing new products.” The company notes that consolidation has had a big impact on its business but that it has slowed down significantly in the last three years. It hopes that consolidations don’t increase in 2021. “We are feeling positive and optimistic about the economy returning to a more normal environment in the second half of 2021.”

Cody Patrick, National Accounts Manager at Gas Equipment Company, predicts sales to be level to up 8% based on key account activity and price increases. “With the increase of price on raw goods and high demand of cryogenic equipment, I expect sales to increase sizably over the course of 2021,” he says. “As in recent years, prices have increased by 2-5% annually. Given the instability of the global market and fluctuating costs of raw goods, we expect volatile trends to continue until the economy is stabilized.” Patrick notes that GEC experienced significant growth over the course of 2020 even through the turmoil of COVID-19. He notes that, regardless of socioeconomic changes, the gases and welding industry always finds a way to stay relevant. Patrick expects the economy to come back strong after the introduction of the vaccine but notes that there is much that remains uncertain as we continue to discover the long lasting impacts caused by COVID-19.

Citing the lingering effects of COVID-19 on the economy, David W. Bell, President of WITT Gas Controls LP expects sales to decrease by 10% in 2021. In addition to the impact of the virus, Bell notes that increased consolidation by the major gas companies may have an adverse effect on supplier business as well. Though COVID will impact 2021, Bell says that he anticipates a V-shaped recovery for the five-year forecast. He says, “WITT always has new products to introduce, plus we will plan to increase staff if business permits.” A niche industry that has growth potential for WITT is food processing, specifically Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP), which Bell predicts to continue to grow at a double digit rate until 2024. The million-dollar question for WITT, and, indeed, the entire economy is, “What will the post COVID-19 economy look like?”

Dave Bent, President of EvolutionX U.S., Inc. predicts sales to increase by 50% in 2021, with the biggest factor in that growth being the acceleration of B2B eCommerce adoption by distributors and their customers. “I would expect eCommerce-based sales for distributors to grow by an average of 10% of total sales for hard goods with some distributors seeing greater than 30%,” Bent says. EvolutionX plans to add staff through the year and it recently merged with a digital marketing agency called Spinstak. The new business will enable EvolutionX to offer an eCommerce platform combined with digital marketing services for distributors.

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed All Safe Global’s growth forecasts, but President and CEO Matt Boettner expects a rapid recovery in the economy by Q2. He forecasts a 10-15% increase for ASG for the year, citing the macro effects from vaccine deployment and the trend towards outsourcing cylinder service and recycling work. “Multi-region gas suppliers are working to consolidate their cylinder requalification work with fewer vendors,” Boettner says. “Labor cost increases and availability are putting pressure on margins.” The company is actively seeking to acquire additional requalification companies in the new year and beyond. Boettner also cites gas equipment for craft beverages as a strong niche market that should rebound well from COVID.

“There is no point ignoring the fact that 2020 was the most peculiar year, in every aspect of life. We were extremely fortunate to still very nearly hit our target,” says FIBA Technologies Business Development Manager Andy Evans. “We have some further challenging targets for 2021. If we can hit them, we will be doing very well.” Evans notes that many in our industry produce “must have goods.” “These are not luxuries. What we do underpins the vital sectors, such as food, health and construction. Because those sectors are vital, our products are needed.” In 2020, FIBA expanded its Pennsylvania and Louisiana service locations. Additionally, it expanded its vaporizer manufacturing in Kentucky. This year, it has plans for further expansion and broadening of its manufacturing to include Ohio. He concludes, “There is no doubt that 2020 saw the serious arrival of hydrogen globally. Of course, 2021 will see this sector grow, though this can no longer be seen as a ‘niche market.’ We’re proud that FIBA and other great American companies are leading the way in the hydrogen sector.”

While Evergreen Midwest Inc. President Tom Cregan expects sales to increase by 2-3% in 2021, it comes with the caveat that business was off by 18% in 2020. Cregan expects to see a U-shaped recovery and specifically cites work stoppage issues related to the pandemic as the biggest hindrance to stronger growth. He also says that, “The new change in presidential administration will greatly impact the corporate tax rate and regulations in a negative way.” Evergreen Midwest continues to sell into the cannabis market with CO2 and Butane products, which will continue to be a growth market for the company.

“Business returning to normal and a sales force able to reconnect with customers,” will lead C K Worldwide to a 5% growth in 2020. As others have noted, C K has seen a growing increase in consolidation of distributors. Still, the company expects to see a V-shaped recovery in the economy, though it is a bit more conservative in its short-term projections. “We are looking to launch two new products and hope this will allow us to have productive contacts with our current distributor base and encourage a focus on our product range,” the company says. It notes that this is all contingent on a successful vaccine rollout and resolution to the pandemic.

“With the availability of several different COVID-19 vaccines next year, as well as pent up consumer demand and a new administration in the White House, the outlook for manufacturing and the U.S. economy in general is looking much brighter,” says MPT Industries President Michael Trubea. MPT will see an increase of 18% in 2021 on the wings of that optimism. “All businesses appear to have experienced a major setback earlier this year when the virus first spread throughout the U.S. Although businesses like ours, which supply essential products or services have since rebounded to some extent, there will be plenty of room for growth in the next 1-5 years as the U.S. economy expands and the world economy continues to reopen. The recovery will be U-shaped for our business, as well as the industry,” says Trubea. The company hopes to release new products in the second half of the year that have been in development for some time, which will expand MPT’s product line and help it gain market share.

Computers Unlimited/TIMS Software will see an increase of 15% this year, according to Director of Sales & Marketing Doug Iversen. “CU has seen a significant increase in the adoption of newer technologies,” Iversen says. “While the trend started before COVID-19, the pandemic has complimented the rate of adoption as well. E-commerce and online shopping (rather than in-store), and the use of mobile/smart devices for deliveries enabling touchless – and paperless – deliveries, curbside or at traditional delivery locations are key factors with the increased interest. Distributors are realizing increased sales opportunities and enhanced customer services, as well as lowering the cost of transitions and deliveries. We expect the trend to continue since distributors are under pressure to do more with less through the pandemic. There is a paradigm shift underway with consumers’ expectation of access to product, as well as how they want product delivered. Consumers are forming new habits through the pandemic, and those habits will continue to a new normal post-pandemic.” Iversen notes that CU is encouraged with the shift from off-shorting to on-shoring manufacturing and production and the potential that brings to the domestic gas and welding suppliers. Beyond 2021, the company has several development initiatives that it is excited to bring to market. “The feedback from existing customer-users has been very positive,” he notes.

“Increased market share through repeat business from distributors that have purchased our equipment and realized the quality, built in standard features, and after the sale service that we offer is unmatched,” will help drive Eleet Cryogenics to a continued double digit growth target in 2021, according to VP of Sales Doug Morton. Morton notes that he has seen some companies exit the cryogenic equipment manufacturing business in recent years if it was not their core focus or strength. He feels that Eleet is well-positioned to continue to service this segment. He notes, “We provide medical oxygen cryogenic bulk systems, so as a critical provider, this area has been busy. We have seen some of the industrial business be held up; although it appears to be coming back strong. We expect to see continued growth and will reinvest to be a solid provider to the distributors as needed for the long term.” The company is continuing to expand and add new products in 2021, which will positively impact the business as Eleet positions itself to be a value-added equipment provider. Morton concludes, “We have some very unique and durable delivery units, whether our ‘Dura-Bulk’ microbulk delivery vehicle or the ‘Scorpion’ portable trailer mounted unit that we anticipate continued growth based on the positive feedback from the market.”

EQUIGAS, Inc. General Manager Rafael Arvelo forecasts 25% growth in 2021 based on four factors: market share gain, adding sales force inside and outside, new strategic alliances, and new products available for 2021. “April and May of 2020, and now December 2020, have been really good months, thanks to the high demand of products like tanks, valves, regulators, hoses, etc.,” Arvelo says. “EQUIGAS is also forecasting an increase of some equipment for CO2 service, due to the storage and transportation of the Pfizer vaccine. 2020 was a really good year for EQUIGAS and we are expecting 2021 is going to be even better!” EQUIGAS plans to increase it sales staff to go along with the new products added to its portfolio this year. It also added an expansion to its warehouse in December 2020, which increased storage capacity by 60%. “The biggest enemy of our outlook is the uncertainty,” Arvelo says. “Not so much political but the time of going back to normal. As the indicators show we are still in a strong and solid economy. But we need the faith and the strength of Americans to stay united, to keep working hard nonstop, and staying safe with common sense, which nowadays is not too common.”

A combination of COVID, interest rates, taxes and a restriction on travel will temper growth this year. However, Wally Anderson, Sales Manager for The M.K. Morse Company, still projects 6% growth in 2021. Anderson expects to see a positive sales increase in welding and gas distribution. He says that M.K. Morse has added a new warehouse/distribution center/weld center in California that should help aid in growth for the U.S. market. “We are really focused on GAWDA distribution going into 2021,” says Anderson. “We have aligned our agencies and direct sales teams to focus on this business model and its sales teams keeping the GAWDA distributor end-users in play for our activities. I believe the U.S. economy will drive sales growth as we continue to buy ‘Made in the USA’ across the country.”

Flange Wizard Inc. will look to rebound after a down year in 2020, says Owner/CEO Bob Doan. “Let’s get this virus conquered and open the door for more travel and conventions,” he implored. “We need to see more boots on the ground pounding the pavement.” Doan notes that COVID brought what had been robust growth to a complete halt and is hopeful for a rapid recovery. One industry that has been strong in recent years, especially during the Trump administration, has been ship building. Doan hopes that the incoming administration doesn’t halt those recent gains. He says, “We need to keep the American made motto moving forward in the years ahead.”

Director of Sales for Western Enterprises Cheryl Sinclair expects to see a growth of 10% as the company and the industry rebound from 2020. Western Enterprises will introduce new products this year that will help make that forecast a reality. However, Sinclair points to continued tariffs, price increases, raw material increases, and rising hourly labor wages as factors that could constrain growth. Still, Sinclair notes that the new product launches could have a more than $10 million impact in the next three years, even in the midst of a U-shaped recovery.

Datacor, Inc. is projected to increase its 2020 sales by 10% according to VP of Sales Dan McCusker. “COVID caused uncertainty in 2020. 2021 will offer more stability,” McCusker says. “COVID also exposed the need for digital technology, which we offer.” McCusker expects to see an increase in M&A activity and does not see the work from home trend being reversed even as the virus recedes. He notes that the company will make back all of its losses and more from 2020, so he anticipates a V-shaped recovery. “So much will come down to the effectiveness of the vaccine and the perception of the masses with respect to COVID-19,” he notes.

With the advent of the vaccine and the need for cold storage, dry ice will play a role in an expected 12% growth for TOMCO2 this year. “We’ve already seen most of the recovery,” says VP of Sales and Development Jeff Holyoak. “However, the industrial gas markets still lag, so I’d say we’re in store for a U-shaped recovery. Timing is the issue, I’m not sure anyone can be sure how fast or how slow it will occur. But there is pent up demand for growth.” In addition to its dry ice business, continued market penetration and cost competitiveness will be key growth drivers for TOMCO in 2021. “As the market gains confidence that an end to the pandemic is nearing, CAPEX spending will flow much faster,” Holyoak says.

Washington Alloy Co. expects to see a 10-15% increase this year, says Vice President Wade Valentine. “We are seeing increased demand for several our flux cored products,” Valentine says. “As business continues to grow in a post-pandemic world, we expect to see nice growth in this product line.” Valentine notes that Washington Alloy “experienced quick reversal from the pandemic, with growth in Q3 and Q4” and will look to carry that momentum into the new year. The company plans to expand its offering of Exxon-approved material in 2021, which will allow new opportunities for the company in markets that were otherwise unobtainable. “We are excited about our lineup of metal cored wire, and believe our newly improved product will allow us to more aggressively help distributors target end users who may benefit from this application.”

Direct Wire will also see sales rise by 10-15% according to President Eric Laubach. The company had a down year in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, but expects to rebound to 2019 numbers plus 10% in 2021. The company also expects to see oil and gas pick up, in addition to putting the pandemic in the rear-view mirror. Laubach notes that the price of copper is increasing and may hit its highest number in years, especially as China continues buying more copper. He sees a V-shaped recovery for new products, with current welding cable sales expected to see more of a U-shaped recovery. He is excited about new products that Direct Wire will be introducing this year, which will take the company into new markets and help grow the business. Direct Wire has been working in recent years in green markets such as wind, solar and battery, which have been growth drivers.

“I coordinate the activities of a dozen of the industries larger, independent, family-owned distributors,” says The Thompson Group Principal Ken Thompson. “I look at them individually and as a business segment. While we are generally all similarly impacted by outside events, each company responds differently depending on a number of factors directly impacting them. It’s fair to say that COVID has impacted all. Revenues fell sharply in late 1Q and all of 2Q, 2020. Rebounds began, to different degrees through Q3, and into Q4. Generally, all will end calendar 2020 about where they began in January 2020 – most consider that as positive given the circumstances. We all see moderate revenue growth in 2021, but a lot powered by pricing actions by suppliers. Consolidation among all segments will probably pick up in 2021. A combination of alternate channel competition by aggressive e-commerce players, anticipated restrictions on face-to-face interactions driven by end users, has all evaluating the new appearance of sales and marketing teams. Budgets to support sales and marketing will be reviewed to be sure the customer relationship can be maximized. Consolidation of major gas suppliers has realigned some relationships and independent distributors and increasing their logistics capabilities to have better control over supply options. Distributors who managed to adjust to changing circumstances during 2020 will continue to do things that are working to satisfy customers. Those who struggled, will likely do no better; and some of those will not survive. Very few feel that 1Q 2021 will see any marked improvement – just continuing momentum for those already experiencing it. Confidences based on vaccine coverage, and its affirmative impact on business will likely run into 3Q 2021. Simply stated – NO MAGIC BULLETS IN EARLY 2021.”

With the promise of a COVID vaccine soon to be widely available, Precise Equipment Company President Dennis Daugherty expects to see a 20-30% increase in 2021. The economy will see a V-shaped recovery, according to Daugherty, even as raw material costs continue to rise due to tariffs. The company has new product releases scheduled for 2021, which will help Precise attain those growth targets. A niche market that has proven to be a growth market for Precise is indoor agriculture. Precise has been able to sell carbon dioxide equipment into that market. Daugherty also points to the continued growth of research centers and ongoing health care expansion as growth industries for Precise.

Though the fallout from COVID deterred the forecast slightly, an expected V-shaped recovery in 2021 will help drive CO2Meter to an expected 20% increase, according to Director of Marketing Morgan Morris. “COVID is continuing to impact our in-person opportunities and is having an impact on specific key industries, such as hospitality, restaurant, and beverage,” she says. However, emerging trends like CO2 capture, COVID and CO2 monitoring near vaccination storage, pharma, welding, and industrial gases continue to shape the company’s focus. CO2Meter has new products planned for 2021, with a welding focus, which will help contribute to the 20% growth projection. Other markets that continue to be growth drivers include: pharma, agriculture/cannabis, beverage, and industrial.

Jim Wallick, Global Director of Sales-Abrasive Division, at Mercer Industries a Division of Champion Cutting Tool Corp., anticipates a 10% growth in 2021. The company recently was purchased by Champion, which opened up new opportunities for the company to cross-sell into. Wallick also expects the economy to improve as people get vaccinated and go back to work. Other trends that might potentially impact growth are the price of oil and the overall health of the economy. For 2021, Wallick expects to see a U-shaped recovery, with things getting back to normal as we distance ourselves from COVID-19.

Kurt Johannes, Director, National Distribution, Saint-Gobain Abrasives (Norton/Carborundum) forecasts a growth of 15% in 2021. The company was able to weather 2020 with no layoffs in its field sales force or manufacturing facilities. Says Johannes, “As the economy bounces back from the pandemic, we are positioned to supply solutions and products to end-users through our distributor partners without missing a beat.” Saint-Gobain has plans for several new product launches and an expansion of product lines, which will allow the company and its distributor partners to gain profitable market share. “The reduced production during the pandemic allowed time for improvements in our manufacturing facilities and improving productivity. Our development of new products has now slowed, allowing our forecast to remain robust,” says Johannes.

Ratermann Manufacturing will see an increase in sales in 2021, according to CEO George Ratermann. “COVID-19 had a major impact on our team in 2020, but we are optimistic for a strong recovery in 2021,” he says. The company is most excited about its new Houston facility, along with expansion plans and services that it has ready to roll out in 2021. Says Ratermann, “We are really enjoying helping our customers who are serving in new markets like cannabis, beauty, beverage and cryotherapy.” Ratermann is excited to return to a sense of normalcy and hopes that in-person meetings can resume in earnest in 2021. “There is so much value in the GAWDA seminars and events,” he says. “Getting back to being able to network and learn with our industry will be fantastic!” 

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