by Mike McNulty, Rubber & Plastics News staff
When the crashing economy caused massive problems across virtually all markets, most urethane processors were able to hunker down, continue to fill their customers’ needs, keep the lines of communication open for new business opportunities and wait out the storm.
They could do it because it’s a diversified industry — serving mining, medical, marine, aerospace and numerous other industries — and US urethane companies are generally quite innovative when it comes to product development, according to Michael Katz, president of Port Washington, Wisconsin-headquartered Molded Dimensions Inc. and current president of the Polyurethane Manufacturers Association.
The same also held true in Canada, said Scott Woodworth, president and general manager of Calgary, Alberta-based Duraprene Industries Ltd and president of the Canadian Urethane Manufacturers Association.
“Like the rest of the world, manufacturing, including the polyurethane industry in Canada, felt the brunt of the economic downturn,” he said. “Talking to processors and suppliers alike, average sales and production were down between 20 and 40 percent over the last 18 months.” So far, 2010 has been better, but both officials are cautious about the prospects for the remainder of the year. Each, however, said there should be some improvement over 2009.
“This too shall pass — everybody’s scrounging but because most (urethane companies) have no…