Many North American resin distributors were overachievers in the first half of 2017, topping sales data reported by the overall industry.
Total third-party sales of polyethylene in the U.S. and Canada and of polypropylene in the U.S., Canada and Mexico in the first six months of the year were up only around 1 percent, according to the American Chemistry Council. That total includes material sold from resin makers to distributors and resellers.
But the picture was brighter with distribution executives who recently spoke with Plastics News about their industry. "We're up mid single digits in pounds and pricing is up in the upper single digits because of material tightness," said Ed Holland, president and CEO of M. Holland Co. in Northbrook, Ill.
"Our top revenue is up because prices are up, but we haven't seen huge jumps in volume," added John Moisson, president of Jamplast Inc. in Ellisville, Mo. "But most of our customers are doing well, and our overall business is steady."
Shawn Williams, senior plastics vice president with Nexeo Solutions in The Woodlands, Texas, said that "when we look at North America, we see a slight slowdown, but we expect the market to be more robust as we go into the second half."
"In general, we should see a slight rebound in the overall market," he added. "Exports should start to increase, and the market has shifted to more growth in the last few months."
At the PolyOne Distribution unit of PolyOne Corp. in Avon Lake, Ohio, officials "continue to see momentum build as we work together with our world-class supplier base, which is one of the most comprehensive in the industry," said President Scott Horn.
This year "has been great so far," said John Jorgensen III, co-owner of Conventus Polymers LLC in Parsippany, N.J. "We're a relatively new company [that opened in 2012], so our sales are up 50 percent this year, and the second half should be better than the first."
Osterman & Co. of Cheshire, Conn., is trying to match a record year in 2015 and the 10 percent growth of 2016. "We've seen some real exciting things but also some challenges," said David Dever, distribution sales vice president. "There was a lot of talk about innovations and new equipment earlier in the year. That's slowed down a bit, but we're confident growth will carry through the rest of the year."
This year has been "a very solid year, with a high level of activity and high single-digit growth" for Chase Plastics in Clarkston, Mich., President Kevin Chase said. PolySource LLC of Independence, Mo., is seeing 25 to 30 percent growth in both sales and volume in pounds, according to Bob Findlen, sales and marketing vice president.
"It's been a strong year," said Greg Boston, a partner at General Polymers Thermoplastic Materials in Clarkston, Mich. "There's still some apprehension about the economy, but so far so good."
Bamberger Polymers of Jericho, N.Y., has seen volume growth of 10 to 12 percent in 2017 after experiencing growth of 9 percent in 2016, according to North American Sales Vice President Mike Pignataro.