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 920 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 temperature - 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, 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 38 workers, and generates almost $9 million annually.

    • The clay product and refractory manufacturing industry consists of about 920 companies which employ about 35,000 workers and generate about $8 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 Advanced 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

                                    Feb 20, 2023 - Record Profit Slows Shift to Renewables
                                    • Hefty profits fueled by last year's soaring energy prices are causing global energy companies to dial back their shift to renewables and increase spending on oil and gas production, The Wall Street Journal reports. BP reported a profit in the fourth quarter of $4.8 billion and $27.7 billion for the year, bringing the combined profits reported so far for 2022 by the biggest Western oil companies -- including Exxon Mobil, Chevron and Shell -- to more than $159 billion, according to WSJ. BP now aims to reduce fossil-fuel production by 2030 by around 25% from 2019 levels vs its previous aim to cut that output by 40% during the same period. Domestic oil and gas production is a driver of demand for ceramic propping agents used in fracking.
                                    • The surprisingly strong January jobs report held good news for the US manufacturers with the addition of 19,000 jobs, more than double the 8,000 jobs added in December, according to Labor Department statistics. Manufacturing sectors that added jobs in January included makers of non-durable goods, adding 15,000 jobs, while durable goods manufacturers added 4,000 jobs. On the durable goods side, gains were seen in the nonmetallic mineral products, which added 4,200; fabricated metals, which added 3,100; and machinery manufacturing, which gained 2,000. Semiconductor, electrical equipment, and plastics manufacturers also posted marginal gains in employment. Manufacturing industries that shed jobs include transportation equipment (-8,400 jobs) and chemicals (-3,500), as well as communications equipment manufacturing (-1,100) and furniture (-500).
                                    • Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California reached a new milestone in laser fusion research, achieving a net energy gain in a fusion reaction for the first time. Germany’s SCHOTT AG – a leading international technology group in specialty glass and glass-ceramics – supplied the laser and optical glasses for the high energy laser, as well as other parts such as fused silica, BOROFLOAT debris shields, and turning mirror substrates, The American Ceramics Society (ACS) reported in December 2022. SCHOTT – a supplier to the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – manufactures glass products for NIF in Pennsylvania and Germany. NIF’s experiment delivered 2.05 megajoules (MJ) of energy to the target, resulting in 3.15 MJ of fusion energy output. The result was ignition, as well as modest net energy gain. Scientists believe this technology could one day help generate commercial-scale power, according to ACS.
                                    • In a move that will impact makers of plumbing fixtures, brick, ceramic tiles, and more, Lowe’s – the US’s second-largest hardware retailer (behind Home Depot) -- in February completed the sale of its Canadian division, Lowe’s Canada, to US private equity firm Sycamore Partners for $400 million in cash. Lowe’s exit from Canada, where it operated about 450 corporate and independent affiliate dealer stores under various banners including RONA, Lowe's Canada, Réno-Dépôt, and Dick's Lumber, signals a shakeup in the Canadian hardware sector. Lowe’s entered Canada with the purchase of RONA in 2016 but sustained deep losses there. Previously, the company sold its much smaller retail operation in Mexico in 2018. Lowe’s chairman said "The sale of our Canadian retail business is an important step toward simplifying the Lowe's business model,” and gives the hardware retailer the opportunity to focus on its core US retail business.
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