Clay Product & Refractory Manufacturers

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 890 clay product and refractory manufacturers in the US produce structural products, refractories, whitewares, and technical or engineered goods. Structural products include brick, roofing tiles, pipes, and flooring tiles. Refractories are made to withstand high temperatures - over 1,000 degrees - and include fireplace liner bricks, kiln and forge lining materials, crucibles for metal and glass melting, and gas burner components. Whitewares tend to be more delicate and include dishes, china, wall tiles, lamp bases, statuary, pottery, and sanitary porcelain (sinks, toilets, and urinals). Technical or engineered products include ceramic disk brakes, ballistic protection, biomedical implants, mechanical bearings, and missile nose cones.

Competition from Alternative Materials

Manufacturers of clay products compete for market share against manufacturers making similar products from alternative materials.

Variable Energy Costs

Clay product and refractory manufacturers have high expenses related to energy because materials are baked or fired to obtain their rigid form.

Industry size & Structure

A typical clay product and refractory manufacturer operates out of 1-2 locations, employs 41 workers, and generates about $10 million annually.

    • The clay product and refractory manufacturing industry consists of about 890 companies which employ about 36,800 workers and generate about $8.9 billion annually.
    • Pottery, ceramics and plumbing fixture manufacturers represent 60% of firms but employ just 35% of workers and generate 31% of industry revenue. Clay building materials and refractory product manufacturers represent 40% of firms and employ 65% of workers and generate 69% of industry revenue.
    • Customer industries include building materials distributors, construction firms, utilities (water/sewer/power), oil and gas producers, government (military/law enforcement), hardware and home improvement stores, electrical supplies distributors, electronic component manufacturers, home furnishings wholesalers and retailers, foodservice providers (restaurants, caterers, hotels), kiln manufacturers, and manufacturers of products that requiring kiln-firing or extremely high temperature to cure.
    • Large companies include Meridian Brick, Corning, Lenox, CoorsTek, Ortech Ceramics, American Standard, and Mohawk Industries (Dal-Tile, Marazzi).
    • The industry is concentrated with the 20 largest firms representing about 52% of industry revenue.
                                    Industry Forecast
                                    Clay Product & Refractory Manufacturers Industry Growth
                                    Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                    Recent Developments

                                    Jan 20, 2024 - Prices and Wages Rise
                                    • Producer prices for clay product and refractory manufacturers rose in December compared to a year ago and were up 2.2% in 2023, extending their rise that began in 2021. The rise in producer prices is helping to offset steeply rising average wages at nonmetallic mineral product manufacturers, which reached an all-time high of $26.38 per hour in December. Meanwhile, employment by clay product and refractory manufacturers fell in November year over year and remains below pre-pandemic levels.
                                    • Architectural billings – a leading indicator of construction activity – predict a solid year for the construction market in 2024, albeit at a slower rate of growth than in 2023. According to the American Institute of Architects (AIA), overall gains in construction spending are projected at just under 6%, with almost 3% for the commercial sector, 15% for industrial facilities, and 4% for institutional buildings. Commercial construction will continue to benefit from the billions of dollars in infrastructure investment from the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act that are still working their way into the economy. While final numbers for 2023 aren’t in yet, total construction spending in 2023 is forecast at $1,960 billion, an increase of 6.0% over 2022 with nonresidential spending leading that growth, Contractor Magazine reports. Construction activity drives demand for structural products including bricks and roofing and floor tile.
                                    • A new passive method for fast and selective extraction of lithium from saltwater could revolutionize lithium production, The American Ceramic Society reports. Lithium, a rare earth metal, is a hot commodity these days because it's a key component of electric vehicle batteries. In a September paper published in Nature Water, researchers at Princeton and the University of Maryland describe an extraction method that takes advantage of the high solubility and mobility of lithium salts in water. They designed a set of porous, twisted cellulose fibers with a water-loving core and a water-repelling surface. When the ends are dipped in saltwater, the water travels up the strings and evaporates leaving behind salt ions, such as sodium and lithium. As water continues to evaporate, the salts become concentrated and form crystals that can be separated and harvested. At scale, the technique represents an environmentally friendly solution to a critical energy challenge.
                                    • A San Francisco startup company has introduced 3D-printed terracotta cups, bowls, and plates in commercial coffee settings as alternatives to single-use plastic products, Daily Coffee News reports. The zero-waste disposable cups, bowls and plates are made entirely of clay, water, and salt, and designed to crumble into dust when crushed, reintegrating into soil. Their maker, GaeaStar, describes its products, which can also be washed and reused, as “geo-neutral,” meaning they do not interfere with the composting process. Currently, GaeaStar cups and bowls are produced at a single facility in Germany and used by catering companies and ice cream shops around Berlin. The 3-D printed cups are also being delivered to prospective partners in the United States. The company’s vision is for its 3-D printing machines to one day be installed on-site in a coffee shop or a restaurant, for on-demand production, replacing single-use plastic serving ware.
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