When it comes to our processor rankings, accuracy in reporting sits on top of the priority list. It would be great to be able to list every firm we see. However, without any details on their operation, it would be only fluff and fill.
I get asked a lot about why some companies aren't ranked. The answer is always the same: "Not enough information." The rankings are based on related North American sales, so at a minimum we need to answer that question. Sometimes we can make a ballpark guess, sometimes we can't. The final decision to publish lies right there.
We do publish data on approximately 60 percent of the companies in our database; the others would be a great addition, but we have no insights.
Over the years, we've maintained a great response rate, but many firms still choose not to participate in our survey or provide our reporters with sales figures. That's were our industry estimates come into play.
So, what is our track record on estimates? Pretty darn good. Sometimes we are spot on, more often it's within 9 percent. About once a year we get our noses tweaked for missing an acquisition or not having accounted for all locations, like when a large company decides to finally divulge information and set the record straight. Typically, though, it's acquisitions that uncover these figures. Internally, we've congratulated each other on being really, really close.
Most recently, the sale of Fiberon to Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc. gave us another opportunity to prove our methods. Ranked with estimated profile extrusion sales of $215 million, the company released annual sales of approximately $200 million, landing within the +/- 9 percent zone that we frequently find ourselves.
Looking over the last year, roughly 67 percent of small ranked firms beyond the top 100 chose not to respond to our inquires. Why is that? It is increasingly difficult to reach people. We receive mailed surveys from about half our respondents — hallelujah! Between email and faxes, we get a decent response rate, if they go through. It's a huge job to track returned mail, undeliverable email and dead fax numbers. As for the rest: Most phone calls result in automated answering systems that end up in voicemail. It should also be noted that some firms prefer to be listed as an estimate.
Estimates on smaller firms that don't respond to our survey and have not reported any news, nor updated their website in five or more years, are common. It would be a huge leap to assume they've increased their sales by a significant dollar amount. These make the list as estimates, with no change to the figures, preferring instead to keep an eye on their ballpark.
Hollee Keller is the editorial research coordinator for Plastics News. Contact her at [email protected].
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