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The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

Many changes in the power industry have ...

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

End users, distributors, EPC/AEC personn...

Water Hammer

Water Hammer

Water hammer is a shock wave transmitted...

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Multiple valve manufacturers and users w...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Acquires MYNAH Technologies

4 DAYS AGO

Emerson has completed the purchase of MYNAH Technologies, a long-time Emerson alliance partner. The addition of MYNAH will help support Emerson Automation Solutions and its Operational Certainty program. Terms of  the acquisition were not disclosed.

MYNAH software is currently in use at more than ...

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Roger Fix Named Chairman of Flowserve

5 DAYS AGO

In its most recent annual meeting, Flowserve announced that Bill Rusnack and Lynn Elsenhans have retired as members of the board of directors. Flowserve also announced that board member Roger Fix has been elected to replace Rusnack as chairman.

"Bill and Lynn provided years of distinguished service to ...

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Oil-Fired Plants Provide Small Amount of U.S. Electric Capacity, Generation

3 DAYS AGO

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration , roughly 70% of petroleum-fired electric generating capacity that still exists today was constructed prior to 1980. Utility-scale generators that reported petroleum as their primary fuel comprised only 3% of total electric generating capacity at...

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ExxonMobil, SABIC Agree on Proposed Petrochemical Project

5 DAYS AGO

Affiliates of Exxon Mobil and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) signed an agreement to conduct a detailed study of the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project in Texas and begin planning for front-end engineering and design work. The agreement was signed during the Saudi-US CEO Forum in R...

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Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Survey Shows Expansion in May

2 DAYS AGO

Tenth District manufacturing activity continued to expand at a moderate pace in May, and expectations for future activity increased strongly. Price indexes were mixed, but recorded little change overall. The month-over-month composite index was 8 in May, up from 7 in April but down from 20 in March.

Ac...

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Business Borrowing for Capital Investment Up 8% in April

3 DAYS AGO

The Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, which reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $1 trillion equipment finance sector, showed their overall new business volume for April was $7.9 billion, up 8% year-ov...

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2009 Market Outlook: Riding Out The Storm

The atmosphere at VMA's Annual Market Outlook Workshop, held Aug. 14-15 in Boston, was more somber than in years' past as attendees-primarily manufacturers of valves, actuators, controls and pumps-listened to speaker after speaker predict continued, even worsening, troubles in the economy, in the United States and around the world.

 

Still, there were a few bright spots among the gloomy news: The power industry in general will remain strong, driven globally by the world's increased need for energy and affected here in North America by the need to tap into new and existing alternative energy sources. Nuclear in particular appears poised to take off in the U.S. as the general public, legislators and other policy-makers accept that nuclear can be a safe, cleaner way to get power. And for the short term, the upstream oil and gas marketplace is actually doing better than predicted a year ago as a reacceleration plays out that may well last into 2009.

Most left knowing that darker times may be coming, but that the North American valve industry has "been there, done that," and with proper preparation and knowledge about new markets and opportunities-global and domestic-their companies can survive this inevitable downturn and come out the other side stronger than ever.

Here's what our speakers had to say:

DOMESTIC ECONOMY
Yes, the Recession is Still Coming

Many people who attended past forecasting conferences were anxious to hear what Alan Beaulieu, economist with the Institute for Trend Research, had to say-not just because he's an entertaining speaker, but because his prediction last year for the U.S. economy was rather bleak-a good 2008, but a recession by 2009.

As far as 2008: "I'm glad you've been enjoying the year," Beaulieu joked, "but the U.S. is softening. Everything you heard in the first half of 2008-all that concern-was just the band warming up."

"This time next year, we will be recognizing that we are in a full-fledged recession," he said. The same will be said in Europe and in China (whether that country recognizes it or not, Beaulieu commented).

Consumers will lead the parade into the downturn, he said, helped along in part by the fact that despite the current woes, we have had poor leadership in this country. For example: "We are a debtor nation. The richest nation on Earth but we can't pay our bills."

Inflation will be a major pressure, he added, because even though officials and experts say the core inflation rate is "only" 3 to 4%, that rate doesn't take into account energy and food. The Consumer Price Index, on the other hand, is 5.6%, which is high, he pointed out.

When people's budgets are hit as hard as they are being hit at present by food, energy and other daily needs, "they stop spending, and that brings a recession," Beaulieu said.

As far as other locations around the globe, "when the U.S. gets a cold, so does the rest of the world," he said.

Still, Beaulieu was not all doom and gloom.

U.S. industry is "doing wonderful things," he exclaimed. They are proficient in selling to the rest of the world, they have the most competitive work force in the world, and they have twice the output of the emerging giant China.

What it will come down to for industry is what's happening at the company level, he said. "If you are doing well, you have to ask: how can I prepare?"

Among his suggestions:

  • Help your margins by differentiating your company from competitors, and then let everyone who works for your company know how you're different.
  • Develop quantifiable reasons you are better than your competition. "What people want in a downturn is a metric. [They want to hear:]
  • 'I can fix this problem on the first go-around, and I can fix it in four hours, not six,'" Beaulieu explained. Clients want to know that quality is more than an adverb.
  • Consider taking on subcontract work if the backside of the cycle begins to look recessionary.
  • Begin missionary efforts into new markets.
  • Freeze expansion plans unless they are related to the logical next step for a particular company. If those plans are made just to expand the company's reach, rethink those plans.

When things start leaning into a recessionary cycle, Beaulieu suggested:

  • Begin reducing work forces. Don't tell employees that everyone will keep their jobs, but let them know most people will be okay-we've been through this before.
  • Set budget reduction goals by department.
  • Avoid long-term purchasing commitments.
  • Find a way to do business in the counter cyclical or unaffected areas (e.g. energy, travel, green, Canada/exports, higher education, healthcare, etc.).

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