Lincoln, R.I.-based Windmoeller & Hoelscher Corp., the North American headquarters of the 150-year-old W&H Group, has been contributing to recent growth for the family-owned parent company.
About a quarter of film extrusion lines, printing presses and converting equipment built by the Lengerich, Germany-based parent company are delivered to North American processors, according to W&H Corp. President Andrew Wheeler.
The machine builder has doubled sales in the last seven years from $500 million to $1.2 billion last year, Wheeler added.
"2023 is a record year for us in terms of machines shipped, but that also means most of those machines were ordered last year," Wheeler said. "We've had a slowdown this year in order intake. I think the entire industry saw that."
Dana Hanson did. He's the president of Aurora, Ill.-based Processing Technologies International LLC (PTi), which manufactures sheet extrusion machines.
"The industry as a whole suffered from a slowdown following the boom times that were realized through the recent pandemic era. This was particularly realized in the first half of the year," Hanson said. "However, entering the summer months, the business climate appears to have regained momentum throughout the balance of the year."
Wheeler agreed, predicting a strong fourth quarter for W&H, which does about 80 percent of its printing and extrusion business in the food and medical markets.
"It was definitely slow, but it's starting to pick up again. We're seeing a lot of activity right now," Wheeler said.
Traditional markets are active for Ansonia, Conn.-based Farrel Pomini, which produces compounding and extrusion equipment for black and white masterbatch, rigid and flexible PVC, flooring compounds and flame retardants. Many of the company's mixing extruders for compounding applications are going to the cable and electrification markets, according to Paul Lloyd, Farrel Pomini business unit director and president of Farrel Corp.
"Flexible packaging is coming under pressure because of sustainability concerns," Lloyd added. "We are seeing regional differences, but since we operate globally, the growth areas are offsetting others, so overall our outlook is positive."
For Hosokawa Alpine American Inc., a blown film extrusion equipment manufacturer in Northborough, Mass., that serves the flexible packaging market, 2023 didn't join the "exceptional" financial years of 2021 and 2022, according to President David Nunes.
"Following an unprecedented run of year-over-year increases since the global financial crisis of 2009, 2023 was predictably a down year," Nunes said. "Fueled by federal rate hikes to curb inflation, excessive inventories to combat the supply chain crisis and a slowing economy, 2023 was a perfect storm of sorts for a slowdown."
Still, the year had its ups.
"Despite these headwinds, Alpine American had a successful year thanks to a strong starting backlog and several orders the first couple months of our fiscal year — October to September," Nunes said.