The National Broom, Mop and Brush meeting was held October 10-11, 2019, in St. Louis, Mo. Below are reports on Handles. Broomcorn, Tampico and Mop Yarn reports are available here. The Foreign Exchange Report and 2020 Economic Outlook by Bart Pelton will be in the print and digital versions of the November-December issue of Brushware.
Fiberglass Handle Report
Kevin Monahan | Monahan Partners
For our industry, we are seeing an increased use (for fiberglass handles) in correctional facilities due to the way it breaks – it does not make for a good weapon. Food service continues to grow as a market for fiberglass handles due to its reluctance and opposition to bacteria growth and its inability to conduct electricity. It is more expensive than wood and metal but has health and safety advantages. Fiberglass is made from three key components: rovings, matte and resin. Rovings and matte make up about 60 percent of the handle, the resin fills out the rest … and is susceptible to fluctuations in the price of oil.
Fiberglass handles are made in the USA and China. Those imported from China are now subject to a 15-percent tariff. They are also made in Europe, but are generally more expensive there. Some US suppliers are using rovings from China, so that caused a small increase at the end of 2018. Overall, the protrusion industry is stable and healthy for the foreseeable future. Fiberglass handles are also healthy and stable for the foreseeable future.
HOLLOW TUBE VS HONEYCOMB: The perception is that honeycomb is stronger than hollow tube, but in any sort of testing we’ve done, we haven’t seen anything conclusive. Both are more than strong enough. Honeycomb would be more expense because of weight alone.
Wood Handle Report
Jim Monahan | Whitley Monahan Handle Company
We buy from Indonesia, Mexico, Honduras, Brazil and the United States. Probably the biggest question now is Brazil, which historically has been a major supplier of hardwoods to our market. With environmental concerns related to the burning of the Amazon forests, a lot of major retailers are moving away from Brazilian hardwoods. We have seen this trend for about a year now and if it continues, Brazil will decline as a major supplier to the US.
Indonesia supplies a minimal amount and that is mostly to the western US, due to the advantage in freight. Mexico has come on to be a good supplier. It has excellent pine and softwoods that are very nice for the broom and mop handles in 42- and 48-inch lengths. Honduras is also historically a major supplier of soft woods. Suppliers there always fight issues with the rainy season, which coincides with the hurricane season. The production drops, but the suppliers there have done a lot better job in the last year to plan ahead by cutting more timber and putting it under roofs so the rain doesn’t affect it so much. Their production naturally slows down in November and December, which corresponds with the slowdown in the US market.
Lastly, we are seeing increases in the domestic use of handles from poplar and southern yellow pine – all of which are reforestated under strict government programs here in the US. Overall, the availability of raw materials for wood handles has been excellent and will continue to be excellent.
Metal Handle Report
Mark Maninfior | American Select Tubing (Delivered by Joel Hastings)
Mills are going into their shutdown periods for maintenance, so you are going to see some idle capacity that could potentially drive up the price. Trade uncertainty could increase interest in sourcing domestically. Steel prices should be stable to possibly softening over the next year provided a trade bill does not further limit offerings.