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Recently HPW conducted its fifth annual helical pile industry survey. This year a total of six helical pile and helical anchor manufacturers and two distributors participated in the survey. All six of the manufacturers are based in the U.S. The six participating manufacturers included:
Empire Piers – www.empirepiers.com
Foundation Supportworks – www.foundationsupportworks.com
Helical Anchors, Inc. - www.helicalanchorsinc.com
MacLean Power MPS Civil Division – www.macleandixie.com
PierTech Systems - www.piertech.com
Ram Jack Systems Distribution – www.ramjack.com
The two participating distributors included:
Danbro Distributors - www.danbro.com
Viking Helical – www.vikinghelicalanchors.com
HPW also contacted or attempted to contact thirteen additional manufacturers in North America for the survey, but they either did not respond or declined to participate.
Topics of the Survey
- Helical Pile and Anchor Sales for 2016 Versus 2015
- Private Versus Public Funded Projects for 2016 Versus 2015
- Square Bar Volume Compared to Round Shaft Volume in 2016
- Opinions and/or Plans About the Future Market for Larger Diameter Helical Piles
- Assessment of Solar and Wind Turbine Projects in 2016 Versus 2015 and Forecasts for 2017
- Overall Forecasts and/or Predictions for Helical Pile and Helical Anchor Sales in 2017
- Overall Opinion of the Impact of ICC-ES Code Certifications for the 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 markets, the survey results do include sales into both markets.
Helical Pile and Anchor Sales for 2016 Versus 2015
Overall seven of the eight companies reported small to medium increases in sales for 2016 with only one company reporting a decline. The largest year over year increase was 28% reported by one company. The mean or average increase in sales in 2016 versus 2015 for all eight companies was 15%. The median increase was 16%.
Private Versus Public Funded Projects for 2016 Versus 2015
The general input from all eight participants was that public funded projects in 2016 continued at about the same level as in 2015. The average ratio across all participants was 73% privately funded and 27% publicly funded projects.
Round Corner Square Bar (RCS) Compared to Round Shaft Volume in 2016
Three of the survey participants offered only round shaft helical products in 2016. Of the remaining five companies that offer either RCS or hollow square tube products, two of the companies reported that 50% and 75% of total sales were RCS products. When all eight companies product percentages are combined, round shaft products constituted 87% of all sales.
Opinions and/or Plans About the Future Market for
Larger Diameter Helical Piles
Note: For this survey, HPW considered larger diameter helical piles as 4.50” (114.3mm) and greater in diameter.
Larger diameter helical pile sales across the industry increased for all eight manufacturers in 2016 over 2105. Manufacturers reported that the majority of sales ranged in size from 4.50” (114.3mm) to 8.625” (219.1mm) although there were increases in volume reported for piles up to 12.00” (304.8mm) in diameter. All in all there was not enough available data on percentage increases in product sales in this category for a meaningful report. However, the general consensus from all participants indicated an increase in growth over 2015 with the trend projected to continue in 2017.
Note: HPW realizes there are several helical pile manufacturers in North America that are aggressively pursuing large diameter helical pile markets, however these companies chose not to participate in this survey.
Assessment of Solar and Wind Turbine Projects in 2016 Versus 2015
and Forecasts for 2017
This topic provided very interesting feedback from the participants. Several of the reporting companies do not pursue these markets at all, while others have aggressive sales and marketing plans in place for 2017. Of the companies that pursue these markets, all agreed that 2016 saw some growth over 2015, and most expect to see continued growth in 2017.
Note: HPW conducted some cursory research about the state of these two markets in North America, and data reported by industry associations revealed record setting year over year growth for both solar and wind in 2016.
Overall Forecasts and/or Predictions for Helical Pile and Helical
Anchor Sales in 2017
The outlook for sales growth in 2017 from seven of the eight companies is positive albeit slightly lower than the 2016 projections from a year ago. Only one company is projecting virtually no sales growth for 2017. The mean or average 2017 growth projections for all eight companies is 14%, and the median projection is 15%.
Opinions Concerning the Impact of ICC-ES Certifications (ESR Reports) on the U.S. Civil Construction Marketplace
As part of the survey, HPW questioned each participating company about their opinions on the impact that ICC-ES certifications are having in the U.S. civil construction marketplace. Of the eight companies participating in the survey, five manufacturers currently have ESR reports for one or more of their helical products - Foundation Supportworks, Helical Anchors, Inc., MacLean Power MPS Civil, PierTech Systems, and Ram Jack. The two distributors, Danbro and Viking, both distribute products with ESR reports. Each company reported that they are beginning to see more and more ESR reports being required in bid specifications. The feeling is the certifications legitimize helical pile products in the eyes of engineers and building officials.
Several of the companies commented about the fact that ICC-ES AC358 now includes certification criteria for 4.50” (114.3mm) O.D., which is deemed to be important for fueling additional sales growth in certain markets.
Similar to opinions gathered from our last survey, again there was a consistent opinion from six of the participating companies that AC358 needs to be modified for a couple of reasons - 1) it should be a requirement that all applicant’s products submitted for certification must be load tested; 2) the overall process needs to be simplified so the cost and time required can be reduced.
Product sales in 2016 exceeded the 2015 results for all but one of the companies participating in the survey. Seven of the eight participants believe the upward trend will continue into 2017 although at a lower rate of growth. The participants in our survey vary greatly in size and annual revenues, and our readers need to consider this when contemplating the data. Absent any significant economic calamities, the outlook for continued growth in 2017 for our industry is certainly positive.
HPW would like to thank the eight companies that contributed to our survey. However, we urge the non-participating companies to reconsider their decision for next year’s survey, as a larger data sample is very important for accurately reporting results and for making accurate projections for our industry.
Please send comments or questions to:
U.S. Helical Pile Industry 2016 Review
& 2017 Outlook
by Bill Bonekemper
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief