Given the fact that most
stainless steel tank fabricators are small, family owned
businesses, one could assume that the Great Recession and
accompanying credit crunch would continue to have a significant
impact on most firms bottom lines. But that would be
"We just put on a second shift,"
said Cheryl Schuster, sales manager for Buckeye Fabricating Co.
in Springboro, Ohio. "We have a work force of 34 or 35 people
right now, and we are definitely busier than we were at this
time last year."
P.L. Questad, general manager at
Superior Steel Products Inc. in Caldwell, Idaho, said that
"weve had nothing but growth every year since the
recession. Last year was our second-biggest year, and this year
is going to be the biggest. We have had to work harder, but we
have not slowed down."
No-one is quite sure what the
reason is for the rapid recovery from the 2008-09 recession,
but most fabricators point out that the companies generally are
small, flexible and fairly well diversified in their product
It is an axiom of any recession
that some industry segments weather economic hardships better
than others. The cutback in federal ethanol subsidies is a case
in point. Midwest fabricators tell the story of one competitor
who increased his work force to 1,200 people at the height of
the ethanol boom but is now down to a work force of just over
"We have to be consistent in our
employment practices because we are in a rural area," said John
Fearn, a sales representative for Walker Stainless Equipment
Co. in New Lisbon, Wis. "You cant just hire and fire
people. You are talking about craftsmen putting these things
together. Fabricating storage tanks is a craft that takes years
to learn." Walker Stainless, which employs about 200 people at
several business units in Wisconsin, has been hiring
As for the industrys rapid recovery from the
recession, Fearn pointed out that much of the storage tank
product line goes to sanitary process facilities for food,
beverage and dairy applications. "The nice thing for the food
industry is that everybody has to eat," he said.