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ON THE PVF PULSE


PVF Roundtable solidifies vertical industry leadership position


T


he PVF roundtable’s position as the vertical focal point of the fast-growing pipe, valve


and fitting sector is reaching new lev- els of importance as industry mem- bers flock to its meetings in ever greater numbers. It’s the only indus- try organization that embraces the gamut from raw material suppliers to end users and specifiers. Combining a lengthy networking


session with outstanding after-dinner programs, this group of leading man- ufacturers, distributors, master dis- tributors, sales representatives, end user personnel and specifiers, etc., have found these meetings at hous- ton’s hess Club the location of choice for bringing together the core of spe- cialists driving America’s PVF sector ever forward. Originally founded in 1987 by co-


owner Sid Westbrook of Westbrook Manufacturing, a producer of a wide range of PVF industry components, the roundtable has grown from a limited meeting ground of interested industry activists to the “place to be” for the broad range of all aspects of the PVF production/marketing/appli- cation channel. As the PVF sector looks forward


to a major comeback year in 2011, the quarter-annual meetings have been organized to provide substance, as well as face-to-face communica- tion, to the diverse elements com- prising the PVF sector at the houston meetings. This year’s four sessions — sched-


uled for the third Tuesday of Febru- ary, May, August and October— feature programs emphasizing the PVF sector’s growing importance. The February meeting, featuring


one of the nation’s outstanding en- ergy experts, the university of hous- ton Economics Professor Michael J. Economides, was enthusiastically re- ceived by a large, attentive audience. The May program will be de-


• Roundtable Going strong since 1987


• Danny Westbrook named new president


• End of an era for conglomerates?


• Global food shortages to boost inflation


• Manufacturing acitvity looking up


voted to the unveiling of the latest entrant into The Wholesaler’s cele- brated PVF hall of Fame. Origi- nally introduced by The Wholesaler in 2002, this highly select group of manufacturers, distributors and rel- evant associations lauds the PVF sector’s pinnacle of accomplish- ments. The May gathering is also noteworthy in that the executive council of the Industrial Piping Di- vision of ASA will be present. Its periodic meeting will be held the following morning in houston. The August session will again fea- ture Bob Tippee, editor of the Oil and


selling out due to estate and family succession problems or just to enjoy the fruits of their success, conglom- erates began to flourish. Initial steps in that direction became torrential at the time when the u.S. stock mar- kets were creating the liquidity to make rapid, multi-industry acquisi- tions possible. The premise behind the conglom-


erate rationale was that all companies were based on constituent factors of a strong financial foundation, good management and a judicious employ- ment of corporate assets. In the conglomerate approach, de-


The PVF Roundtable’s position as the vertical focal point of the fast-growing pipe, valve and fitting sector is


only industry organization that embraces the gamut from raw material suppliers to end users and specifiers.


Gas Journal, one of the industry’s premier publications devoted to the oil and natural gas sub-sector. Although the October meeting has


as yet not been programmed, it will likely be devoted to the 2012 PVF sector outlook, since it will be the last scheduled meeting of the year. As part of each session, I’m privi-


leged to present a 15-minute wrap-up of the ongoing direction of all aspects of pipe-valve-fittings. Outgoing roundtable president, Fluor’s inter- national top executive, ron Merrick, has thoughtfully dubbed this presen- tation “The Beschloss Moment.” heralding the forward-looking


leadership of the roundtable was the recent unanimous board of directors’ selection of Danny Westbrook as new president and Sheryl ryan Michalak as secretary-treasurer, the organization’s chief operational position.


Has the age of conglomerates come to an end? The flurry of announcements relat-


ing to multi-billion-dollar conglom- erates selling off disparate businesses under the publicly held corporate wing may signal the end of the era of super-conglomerates. Increasingly, the biggest of these corporate giants are among those announcing a return to their core businesses. Born during the 1960s and 1970s, when privately held companies were


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creasing value was given to intimate involvement in or understanding of specific industry sectors. This was left, in many cases, to professional managers from totally unrelated spe- cific business backgrounds. This ap- proach, and the ease of money availability from financial institutions and a growing number of profes- sional investment groups, further fa- cilitated the rapidity with which these conglomerates grew during the latter part of the 20th century. The recent announcement of ITT’s


(originally International Telephone & Telegraph) split into three core-based businesses ended the decades-long reign of a super conglomerate headed from its early growth by one-time ac- countant harold Geneen, considered by business historians as the "father of conglomerates." In the early 1970s, Geneen took a


mid-sized communications business generating a few hundred million dol- lars in annual revenues to an eventual $17 billion at the crest of its success in the 20th century’s final decade. As business demands call for


downsizing to preserve strong bal- ance sheets, increased productivity and defense against increasing gov- ernment-imposed costs, even giants such as General Electric, the world’s most prolific conglomerate, are ag- gressively divesting units, especially those not contributing satisfactorily to the bottom line.


reaching new levels of importance as industry members flock to its meetings in ever greater numbers. It’s the


BY MORRIS R. BESCHLOSS PVF and economic analyst emeritus


The administration’s ignorance


of the widening schism existing be- tween large corporations and pri- vately held businesses and of the latter’s superior employment capa- bility is reflected by the choice of chief job development consultant, Jeff Immelt, chairman of GE, which employs most of its workers overseas. With increasing knowledge of end-


use business sectors reemerging as valued assets, it’s doubtful whether a return to the heyday of the conglom- erate era will ever return.


Speculation, biofuels, global


consumption create new food crisis It’s the 2007–08 global food crisis


all over again, with a new twist. At that time, the helter skelter jump into biofuels, emanating mainly from u.S. corn and Brazilian sugar cane engen- dered a worldwide food inflation at a time of an inflationary commodity boom. This was a traditional upward


substance, as well as face- to-face communication, to the diverse elements comprising the PVF sector at the Houston meetings.


spiral exploding within an interna- tional surge of too much money chas- ing too few goods. At that time, the move toward corn production to capitalize on the mania for subsidized biofuels precipitated a shortage of rice, the food staple for most of the world’s population, espe- cially in Asia, where the mega popu- lations of China and India were rapidly approaching the current con- sumption economy. (Turn to Roundtable, page 54.)


As the PVF sector looks forward to a major comeback year in 2011, the quarter-annual meetings have been organized to provide


•THE WHOLESALER® — MARCH 2011


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