This industry covers establishments primarily engaged in fabricating pipes and pipe fittings from purchased metal pipe by processes such as cutting, threading, and bending. Establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing cast iron pipe and fittings, including cast and forged pipe fittings that have been machined and threaded, are classified in SIC 3321: Gray and Ductile Iron Foundries; those manufacturing welded and heavy riveted pipe and seamless steel pipe are classified in SIC 3317: Steel Pipe and Tubes; and those manufacturing products such as banisters, railings, and guards from pipe are classified in SIC 3446: Architecture and Ornamental Metal Work.
332996 (Fabricated Pipe and Pipe Fitting Manufacturing)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Manufactures , there were approximately 32,000 employees in this category in 2001. Other U.S. Census surveys showed 934 establishments for this year. Industry-wide payroll totaled more than $1.0 billion. Some 24,767 employees were production workers, putting in almost 51 million hours to earn wages of nearly $695 million. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at more than $4.7 billion.
The Shaw Group Inc. of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, led the industry with 2001 sales of $3.1 billion and 17,000 employees. The following year, sales were up more than 4 percent and employment saw a nearly 13 percent growth. Because it had been able to acquire several other companies, the Shaw Group was the industry behemoth, serving many different industries. In distant second place was Dallas-based Lone Star Steel Company, with sales of $425 million and 1,500 employees. Rounding out the top three was NIBCO Inc. of Elkhart, Indiana, with $419 million in sales and 4,300 employees.
The U.S. fabricated pipe and pipe-fitting industry is strongly dependent on the health of the domestic construction industry, which, after enduring rough economic conditions in the late 1980s and early 1990s, rebounded in the mid-1990s. Improvements in both the domestic and international economic climates, along with the replacement of old manufacturing processes, helped the industry rebound during the latter part of the 1980s and weather the downturn of the early 1990s. In the late 1990s, pipe, valve, and fitting manufacturers experienced marked gains in the industry's ability to meet the steady demand for fire protection flow control products. The industry's recent positive fortunes also have been due in part to increased global competitiveness. Overseas producers have been chased away from the U.S. market by increased domestic quality, lower dollar valuations, and strong antidumping legislation.
Employment highs in the industry were recorded in 1979, when 32,900 employees worked in the industry's manufacturing facilities. Projections called for employment decreases in this industry, however. Some industry
occupations expected to decrease by 2005 were metal and plastic machine workers (29 percent); bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing clerks (25 percent); and tool and die makers (19 percent). The occupations with the largest expected increases were combination machine tool operators (51 percent) and metal and plastic machine tool cutting operators (42 percent).
Because of the focus in the 2000s on providing solutions and products to meet individualized needs, the industry was expected to develop and use new technologies in order to stay competitive, including computer and electronic technologies. For instance, the Shaw Group had equipped all of its U.S. and international facilities with induction bending machines and other automated machines, the latest in pipe manufacturing equipment. As of 2004, each of the company's facilities produced approximately 9,000 tons of pipe spools each month.
Baker, Deborah J., ed. Ward's Business Directory of US Private and Public Companies. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2003.
"Fabrication Services." The Shaw Group Inc. 5 March 2004. Available from http://www.shawgrp.com/prod_serv_fs.cfm .
Hoover's Company Fact Sheet. "The Shaw Group Inc." 2 March 2004. Available from http://www.hoovers.com .
U.S. Census Bureau. 1997 Economic Census-Manufacturing. 12 February 2000. Available from http://www.census.gov/prod/ec97/97m3329j.pdf .
——. Statistics of U.S. Businesses: 2001. 1 March 2004. Available from http://www.census.gov/epcd/susb/2001/us/US332311.htm .
U.S. Department of Commerce. Annual Survey of Manufactures. Washington: GPO, 2002.