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For this month’s Steve & Tom on PVF column, I sat down with Steve Letko and Tom M. Brown in Houston before the August PVF Roundtable meetings, and asked them a series of questions regarding economics and what’s in store for the next PVF Roundtable meeting.
Danielle Galian: Steve and Tom, today we’re here on location in Houston for the third quarter PVF Roundtable meeting. As most of our readers know, your monthly column discusses the inner workings of the PVF sector. What has the response been on your analysis so far?
Steve Letko: Danielle, the response to this format, and substance of our discussions, has been extremely favorable. During my travels people have commented that they look forward to reading the articles to get insight on what is happening in the various segments of PVF market place.
DG: Recent headlines suggest that industrial pipe manufacturing is on the rise. What are your thoughts on that from an editorial and manufacturer standpoint?
SL: The industrial pipe, valve, fitting and flange markets are indeed experiencing an increase in demand. The President’s focus on “Buy America — Hire American” is having an impact witnessed by the increase in demand for domestic materials. The industry is being propelled by the power and pipeline segments of the market. The switch to natural gas-fired power plants, developing production of oil and gas generated from shale plays, new pipelines and the retro-fitting of aging pipelines have supported, and will continue to support, a strong demand for pipeline and power plant construction. Additionally, the administration's economic policy has had a favorable impact on the manufacturing sectors of the market place resulting in an increase in investments in new construction and expansion of existing facilities.
DG: What are your thoughts on President Trump’s U.S.-Steel plan? How will this affect the PVF industry? What does this mean for the PVF roundtable?
SL: Under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act (1962) the President has broad power to adjust imports, including through tariffs, if excessive foreign imports are found to be a threat to U.S. national security. The President has authorized the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, to prioritize a Department of Commerce investigation into the effects of steel imports on U.S. security. Currently aluminum and steel investigations are under way. The Section 232/ NAFTA hearings on aluminum are also under way.
The Section 232 investigation for steel and steel products are currently in the fact-finding stage and public hearings are anticipated to begin in November or December. Predicated on the conclusions resulting from these investigations any punitive tariffs deemed necessary to protect national security will be added to tariffs already in place. These actions will impose additional costs for offshore materials utilized in the PVF industry. In addition, these actions will provide incentives for additional investments to rejuvenate and expand domestic manufacturing capacity. All sectors that compose the PVF Roundtable membership will experience an economic impact effecting costs of goods and availability of materials. These effects will have to be evaluated for projects entering the construction stage and those proposed.
DG: Switching gears here; as Editor of The Wholesaler along with the magazine’s Chairman of the Board, I’d like to extend a special thank you for having us as the PVF Roundtable’s official publication. Steve, as a PVF roundtable board member, what does this partnership mean for you?
SL: Speaking as a member of the board, this partnership will provide a platform to inform the industry of current and future initiatives of the PVF Roundtable in support of the PVF industry. Additionally, this platform allows the PVF Roundtable to inform the industry of the successes of these initiatives.
Tom M. Brown: The partnership we feel is going to be very beneficial for the PVF Roundtable, because there is going to be generous exposure on a monthly basis that is going to expose the roundtable to our over 30,000 industry leaders. This is going to bring a lot of new recognition — new awareness — for the PVF Roundtable, and help with membership. There are many initiatives, such as the wonderful scholarship offerings for the people in the industry and trade schools, as well as plumbing, piping and also welding. We look forward to working with the Roundtable on an active basis.
DG: What can readers expect to see and read from this partnership?
SL: Readers can expect to see informative articles related to events strictly related to the PVF industry, economic outlook, tax and regulatory actions, coverage of industry related events, and schedules of future industry events.
DG: October’s fourth quarter meeting is sure to make waves. What can you tell us about that meeting?
SL: Rob Braig, vice president of Wolseley Industrial Group, will be formally inducted into the “Hall of Fame” honoring him for his contributions to the industry. Hall of Fame QB Terry Bradshaw, four-time Supper Bowl Champion, formally of the Pittsburg Steelers, will be our keynote speaker at the October meeting. Ferguson has Terry Bradshaw under contract to do promotional appearances at various Ferguson sponsored events. Through the efforts of Joe Costanzo, Ferguson's management team agreed with Joe that this event is worthy of the investment. The October meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017, at the Marriott Westchase, Houston, Texas. Networking will begin at 4:30 p.m. followed by a sit-down dinner and program. The board anticipates that this will be a major event and urges everyone to register early using the PVF Roundtable website at www.pvf.org.
TMB: Sounds like a great meeting to me; I’m very excited about it. I’ve always been a big Terry Bradshaw fan and I thank Ferguson and Wolseley for bringing him to the meeting, and making him available. It should be a very, very exciting meeting.
DG: Finally, looking into 2018, what are some predictions or thoughts regarding the PVF sector?
SL: There are several variables that have not been settled at this time that will have profound effects on the PVF sector. Tax reform, healthcare issues, EPA regulation reform, Section 232 results and global events all weigh heavily on what 2018 has in store for the PVF industry. Power plant, pipeline construction, petro-chemical expansions, refinery retro-fits, commercial building and infrastructure construction will be drivers for the PVF sector in 2018.
For more information on the PVF Roundtable, visit pvf.org.