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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 Pierswww.empirepiers.com

Grip-Tite Manufacturing Co. - www.griptite.com

Helical Anchors, Inc. - www.helicalanchorsinc.com

MacLean Power MPS Civil Divisionwww.macleandixie.com

Ram Jack Systems Distribution www.ramjack.com

Supportworkswww.foundationsupportworks.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 2017 Versus 2016
  • Private Versus Public Funded Projects for 2017 Versus 2016
  • Square Bar Volume Compared to Round Shaft Volume in 2017
  • Opinions and/or Plans About the Future Market for Larger Diameter Helical Piles
  • Assessment of Solar and Wind Turbine Projects in 2017 Versus 2016 and Forecasts for 2018
  • Overall Forecasts and/or Predictions for Helical Pile and Helical Anchor Sales in 2018
  • Overall Opinion of the Impact of ICC-ES Code Certifications for the U.S. Civil Construction Market
  • Total Number of Installers/Dealers in North America

Note:  For this survey, HPW did not 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 2017 Versus 2016

Overall six of the eight companies reported small to medium increases in sales revenue for 2017, while one company reported no increase and another company reported a significant decline in sales revenue.  The largest year over year increase was 14% reported by one company.  The mean or average increase in sales in 2017 versus 2016 for all eight companies was 3%.  The median increase was 7%.  

Private Versus Public Funded Projects for 2017 Versus 2016

The general input from all eight participants was that public funded projects in 2017 continued at about the same level as in 2016.  The average ratio across all participants was 83% privately funded and 17% publicly funded projects.

Round Corner Square Bar (RCS) Compared to Round Shaft Volume in 2017

Three of the survey participants offered only round shaft helical products in 2017.  Of the remaining five companies that offer either RCS or hollow square tube products, the percentages of RCS or hollow square tube were 50, 25, 25, 11 and 10 percent of total volume.  When all eight companies product percentages are combined, the average percentage of round shaft products sold equaled 79% of all sales.  The median of round shaft versus RCS sold was 89% round shaft.

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 2017 over 2106.  Manufacturers reported that the majority of sales ranged in size from 4.50” (114.3mm) to 8.625” (219.1mm), which was the same for 2016.  However, 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.  The general consensus from all eight participants suggests there is anticipated growth for larger diameter helical piles in 2018.

Note:  HPW realizes there are several large 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 2017 Versus 2016

and Forecasts for 2018


In last year’s report there were only a few manufacturers who were aggressively pursuing the solar market, and they expected to see some activity for the year.  This optimistic perspective did not convert into meaningful sales for 2017.  In this year’s survey nearly all manufacturers now see little-to-no meaningful volume in the solar market for 2018.  When HPW asked why manufacturers feel this way about the solar market, the replies were consistent - helical piles/anchors are generally more expensive than other products and the profit margins are too slim to warrant the risk of pursuing solar sales.  A couple of the companies reported they believe some solar array racking manufacturers are actually making there own helical piles, but HPW has not yet been able to confirm such.


Of the eight companies reporting, there were little-to-no sales into the wind turbine market, and none of the companies see that trend changing in 2018.


Overall Forecasts and/or Predictions for Helical Pile and Helical

Anchor Sales in 2018


The outlook for sales growth in 2018 from the eight companies is positive albeit slightly lower than the 2017 projections from a year ago.  The projected revenue growth ranged from a low of 3% to a high of 14%.  The mean or average 2018 growth projections for all eight companies is 10.25%, and the median projection is 9%.

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 six manufacturers participating in the survey, five manufacturers currently have ESR reports for one or more of their helical products - Supportworks, Helical Anchors, Inc., MacLean Power MPS Civil, Empire Piers 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.

There was a consistent opinion from the participating companies that AC358 needs to be modified for a couple of reasons - 1) product capacities should be based on load test results only and not engineering calculations; 2) the overall process needs to be simplified so the cost and time required can be reduced.     

Total Number of Dealers / Installers in North America

This part of HPW’s survey is new this year.  The numbers varied substantially from company to company.  The highest number of dealers / installers from one company is approximately (200), while the lowest number reported was approximately (30). The mean or average number is (105), and the median number is (90).

After discussions with all companies participating in the survey, it does appear that some dealers / installers are buying helical products from more than one company depending upon product availability and pricing.

Summary

Product sales in 2017 exceeded the 2016 results for all but two of the companies participating in the survey.  All eight participants believe 2018 revenues will be higher than in 2017 although at a somewhat 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 2018 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:


Bill Bonekemper

bbones@helicalpileworld.com

513-386-8158

U.S. Helical Pile Industry 2017 Review

& 2018 Outlook

by Bill Bonekemper

Publisher & Editor-in-Chief

February, 2018