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Helical Pile Industry 2013 Review & 2014 Outlook

by Bill Bonekemper

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

November 13, 2013

Recently HPW conducted its second annual survey with seven helical pile and helical anchor manufacturers and one distributor - all of which are based in the U.S.  The seven participating manufacturers included:

Earth Contact Productswww.earthcontactproducts.com

Empire Pierswww.empirepiers.com

Foundation Supportworkswww.foundationsupportworks.com

Grip-Tite Foundation Systemswww.griptite.com

MacLean Power MPS Civil Divisionwww.macleandixie.com

Patriot Foundation Systemswww.patriothelicals.com

Ram Jack Distribution Systemswww.ramjack.com

The participating distributor:

Viking Helical (distributor for Helical Anchors, Inc.) –             www.vikinghelicalanchors.com

HPW also contacted or attempted to contact seven additional U.S.-based manufacturers for the survey, but they either did not respond or declined to participate.

Topics of the Survey

  • Helical Pile and Anchor Sales for 2013 Versus 2012
  • Private Versus Public Funded Projects for 2013 Versus 2012
  • Square Bar Volume Compared to Round Shaft Volume in 2013
  • Opinions and/or Plans About the Future Market for Larger Diameter Helical Piles
  • Assessment of Solar and Wind Turbine Projects in 2013 Versus 2012 and Forecasts for 2014
  • Overall Forecasts and/or Predictions for Helical Pile and Helical Anchors Sale in 2014
  • Overall Positive or Negative Opinion of the Impact of ICC-ES Code Certifications for U.S. Civil Construction Market

Note:  For this survey, HPW did seek to distinguish between sales to the civil construction market versus the utility market.  Although some but not all participants sell helical products to both the civil construction and the utility markets, the survey results do include sales into both markets.  However, the numbers and the projections are based largely upon sales to the civil construction marketplace.  

Helical Pile and Anchor Sales for 2013 Versus 2012

While one company reported sales for 2013 were very close to those in 2012, the other seven companies reported growth ranging from a low of 20% to a high of 300% increase in sales.  The mean or average increase in sales in 2013 versus 2012 was 53%.  The median increase was 25%.  

Private Versus Public Funded Projects for 2013 Versus 2012

The general input from all eight participants was the public funded projects have continued the decline that started late in 2011 and continued throughout 2012 due to the lack of federal stimulus funds.  While one company reported strong sales from publicly funded projects, the average ratio across all participants was 83% privately funded and 17% publicly funded projects.

Round Corner Square (RCS) Bar Volume Compared to Round Shaft Volume in 2013

Three of the survey participants offer only round shaft helical products.  Of the five companies that sell RCS products, two of the companies reported sales increases in RCS sales in 2013 versus 2012.  Of the five companies that sell both products, RCS percentages ranged from a low of 2% versus round shaft to a high of 58%.

Opinions and/or Plans About the Future Market for

Larger Diameter Helical Piles

Note: For this survey, HPW considered larger diameter helical piles as 3.5” and larger in diameter.

This market segment produced the widest disparity in reported sales and the largest differences of opinions with respect to the future of helical products ranging in diameter up to 8.63 and even larger. While one survey participant reported that 40% of all round shaft sales are for 4.5” and larger diameter, two of the participants reported very little interest from customers for large diameter products.  Two companies reported that research is underway to evaluate the market potential for larger diameter products along with analysis of the costs associated with logistics and manufacturing.  Another participant is projecting a 250% growth in this segment in 2014.

Assessment of Solar and Wind Turbine Projects

in 2013 Versus 2012 and Forecasts for 2014

Only one company reported good sales volume in this market in 2013, and the volume was for solar projects.  This company is projecting sales to remain relatively strong in 2014 also.  The other seven companies reported a continued downward trend in this market segment due to the cuts in federal stimulus funds.

Overall Forecasts and/or Predictions for Helical Pile

and Helical Anchor Sales in 2014

The outlook for 2014 from all eight companies is positive.  While two of the companies are projecting growth rates approaching 100% for 2014 over 2013, the average or mean growth rate is projected to be 38%, while the projected median growth rate is 22%.

Opinions Concerning the Impact of ICC-ES Certifications

on the U.S. Civil Construction Marketplace

As part of the survey, HPW questioned each participating company about their opinions of the impact that ICC-ES certifications are having in the U.S. civil construction marketplace.  Of the eight companies participating in the survey, three manufacturers currently have ESR reports for one or more of their helical products - Foundation Supportworks, MacLean Power MPS Civil, and Ram Jack.  Of the companies that have positive feelings about ICC-ES certifications, the feeling is that the certifications legitimize helical pile products in the eyes of engineers and building officials.  Of the companies that have neutral or negative opinions, the feeling is that not having certifications has not negatively affected their sales efforts in a measurable way.  One company commented - “market maturity is having a much greater impact than the certifications.”

One opinion was universal across all eight participating companies - the testing and certification process takes to long and is too expensive.

Summary

Product sales in 2013 have definitely exceeded the 2012 results for all companies in the survey, and all of the participants believe this upward trend will continue into 2014.  The participants in our survey vary greatly in size and annual revenues, and our readers need to consider this when contemplating the data. Nonetheless, it is certainly a positive sign to see the privately funded projects continuing a steady recovery and providing fuel for growth.  Absent any significant economic calamities, the outlook for continued growth in 2014 for our industry is certainly positive.

HPW would like to thank the eight companies that contributed to our survey.


Please send comments or questions to:


Bill Bonekemper

bbones@helicalpileworld.com

513-386-8158