This must be June, because we are publishing our annual ranking of the top 100 North American injection molders in this week’s issue.
This year, because of ties, 108 companies are included in the issue, with total related sales of $28.9 billion.
You may recall that I noted last year that the average sales per firm was down 0.8 percent, mostly due to declines in the automotive market in 2019. For the 2020 pandemic year, that percentage has dropped again, down an average of 4.4 percent.
You may be thinking, “But automotive is just one end market, and many others actually saw growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.” But many of the largest companies in our ranking are focused almost 100 percent on automotive customers, and those companies took a hit when assembly plants shut down starting in March 2020.
Our No. 3 company, automotive interiors supplier IAC of Southfield, Mich., was down an estimated 18.5 percent. Plastic Omnium Auto Exteriors LLC in Troy, Mich. was down an estimated 20 percent, based on parent Cie. Plastic Omnium SA’s annual report.
Similarly, Kasai North America Inc. of Murfreesboro, Tenn. is down an estimated 33 percent, based on results from parent firm Kasai Kogyo Co. Ltd.’s annual report. These represent the biggest hits.
According to data from Automotive News, North American car and light truck production numbers were down 18.9 percent in 2020, with Canada taking the biggest hit with a 23.6 percent decline. Most automakers were shut down for nine weeks, from mid-March to mid-May, and their suppliers were impacted.
Many auto suppliers pivoted to making personal protective equipment, ventilator parts and other medical-related products, which helped to offset those losses to an average of 12 percent in this year’s ranking.
Facing microchip shortages and higher resin pricing, automotive suppliers are still fighting a tough market today.
What else do the numbers tell us? Packaging and health care fared much better in 2020, provided they were serving the North American market and their fiscal year ran through Dec. 31. For our ranked firms, the medical end market increased 11 percent in sales gains. Packaging results were a mixed bag of higher volumes offset by declines in materials pricing. It may be a distant memory now, but average resin prices were down 11 percent last year, with the exception of high density polyethylene, which was up 8.6 percent.
All in all, it was a very complex year for injection molding trends.
The automotive sector declines puts housewares molder Sterilite Corp. of Townsend, Mass., into our top 10 for the very first time. Our sales estimate of $540 million is based on a 3 percent average gain in the housewares market for injection molders.
One notable new listing is Westfall Technik Inc. of Las Vegas, joining our list for the first time. The injection molder and toolmaker has made 14 acquisitions between October 2017 and April 2019, and we previously ranked all of those companies separately. This year Westfall ranks No. 44 with $200 million in North American molding sales.