Forecasting, Rig Count, and FR

Most people would quip, predicting the future requires a crystal ball and some magical ‘sayings’.  In business, forecasting market dynamics is much more of an art than science.  However, business builds technology and departments on the science of the past to predict the promise of the future.  From revenue projections, inventory levels, and general investment platforms – all these metrics are built on “what could be” tomorrow.  Business constantly looks for market indicators to help predict ‘tomorrow’ that enables better investment and business tactics.

The secondary flame resistant (FR) market is no different.  In a market, where skilled labor can’t work without the right equipment, availability of product for at-once delivery is of utmost importance.  FR shirts, pants, jeans, coveralls, and outerwear are all required for workers to ‘drill for oil, ‘repair down utility lines’, and ‘install new electrical systems in a manufacturing plant’.  So with all the complicated dynamics of multiple industry – how do you know when or how much to divert your attention to supplying this market?

Over decades of research and history, not perfect, but the best indicator to predict the FR market strength is…..Rig Count.  Yes, how many rigs are active in the country.  While this only speaks to one of the industries served by secondary FR clothing, it is historically the best indicator.  Yes, price of oil, number of OSHA inspectors, and strength of the dollar – are all contributing factors – but watch rig count.  Baker Hughes is an excellent resource to track this metric.  All information is on-line and easily accessible.  It is as detailed as you care to drill (pun intended).  The demand for FR clothing follows the rig count data better than any other metric.  Check it out.  http://investor.bakerhughes.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=79687&p=irol-rigcountsoverview

So what do you do with this? If you’re a supplier and looking for new product lines to offer – you might consider FR clothing.  Rig Count (and ‘surprise’ the FR market in general) has been growing significantly in the past several years.  Will the growth continue? Will it stabilize? Soften? Grab your crystal ball and find out – or maybe watch the Rig Count and begin the journey a little earlier than your competition OR catch up really quickly.  If you’re a safety manager or wearer – know that growing markets attract many suppliers – look for brands and suppliers who are investing in this market in both product and expertise to help provide trusted solutions to your needs.

Robert Grimes

Managing Director – Bulwark


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