SIC 3448

This category covers establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing portable and other prefabricated metal buildings and parts and prefabricated exterior metal panels.

NAICS Code(s)

332311 (Prefabricated Metal Building and Component Manufacturing)

According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Statistics of U.S. Businesses , 628 establishments operated in this category for part or all of 2001. Industry-wide employment totaled 28,203 workers receiving a payroll of more than $914 million. The Annual Survey of Manufactures reported that 18,305 employees worked in production, putting in more than 37 million hours to earn wages of more than $465 million. Overall shipments for the industry were valued at almost $4.9 billion.

Mid-West Steel Building Company of Houston, Texas, led the industry with 2001 sales of more than $1 billion and 3,600 employees. Mid-West Steel was owned by the number two company, NCI Building Systems Inc., of Houston, which followed with more than $954 million in 2001 sales created by 4,100 employees. Rounding out the top industry leaders were Butler Manufacturing Co. of Kansas City, Missouri, with 2001 sales of $828 million and 4,700 employees, and Dyson-Kissner-Moran Corp. of New York, with 2001 sales of $767 million and 4,500 employees.

In the mid-1990s, the prefabricated metal buildings industry shipped $4.22 billion worth of such products as portable buildings and houses, silos, greenhouses, carports and garages, and other prefabricated metal buildings. The largest division within this industry was non-residential or farm prefabricated building systems, which included industrial and commercial, institutional, medical, and religious buildings.

Employment levels climbed steadily over the 1980s. Throughout the early 1990s, however, the employment rate fluctuated. By the early 2000s the number of establishments, and industry employment, had begun to stabilize and grow. The overall employment outlook for the fabricated metal product manufacturing industry was one of slow but steady growth into 2012.

Due to a decrease in the construction of both office buildings and commercial and industrial sites in the early 1990s, the prefabricated metal building industry suffered a slight decline in sales. Nevertheless, the industry continued to grow steadily, with new technologies and environmental concerns giving the industry a small boost. Shipments to this sector were expected to increase in the 2000s, as new uses for prefabricated buildings were discovered. Industry leader NCI Building Systems Inc. saw a 6 percent increase in sales from 2002 to 2003. The company's customer base includes builders, contractors, and manufacturers, as well as consumers.

Steel was the most heavily recycled product in the world—more than plastic, paper, aluminum, and glass combined—and, as such, construction firms often turned to steel as a way to satisfy new environmental regulations. The steel industry also revolutionized new techniques in manufacturing to give those who process steel products the best raw materials the industry had ever seen.

The Universal Prefab Metal Framing and Seismic Component System was seeking to revolutionize the industry with its computer automated system, introduced in 1997. The Universal system, though still fairly new and not widely used, claimed it could substantially cut costs by reducing production time, lowering insurance rates, and cutting workers' compensation funds. The system was an automated cutting and design system that could be programmed to clients' demands, allowing the operator to cut and shape by the push of a button or by hydraulic controls. The worker was no longer required to cut the steel by hand—an admittedly dangerous, laborious, and time-consuming task. The end product was a stronger and more precise structure. Preliminary testing indicated it was superior to older methods, according to a study by Sandia National Laboratories, a division of the U.S. Department of Energy, and the University of California State, Hayward.

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, the residential construction industry was booming, and an increase in demand for products relevant to that division of the industry was predicted to make up for the slack in commercial demand. Manufactured housing stepped up its production until the market was saturated, and production decreased sharply in 2000. This segment of the industry was expected to recover as new and different customers, such as aging baby boomers and those looking for vacation homes, became attracted to the improved design and construction of manufactured housing.

In addition, foreign markets recognize the product quality of this U.S. industry. According to the U. S. Industry and Trade Outlook , the modest growth in this industry through the mid-2000s and beyond also was buoyed by export demand, particularly markets in North America, Egypt, Syria, and China.

Further Reading

Baker, Deborah J., ed. Ward's Business Directory of US Private and Public Companies. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2003.

Darnay, Arsen J., ed. Manufacturing and Distribution USA. Detroit, MI: Thomson Gale, 2003.

Hoover's Company Fact Sheet. "NCI Building Systems, Inc." 2 March 2004. Available from .

"Industry Perspective—Current Trends." Perspectives in Community and Economic Development. Winter 2002.

U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Department of Commerce. Annual Survey of Manufactures. Washington: GPO, 2002.

——. Statistics of U.S. Businesses: 2001. 1 March 2004. Available from .

U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Economic and Employment Projections. 11 February 2004. Available from .

US Industry and Trade Outlook. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.

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