North America

North America

North America: back on course

In 2010 North America rebounded from the economic downturn. Market demand in the automotive sector picked up strongly, while industrial and agricultural applications continued to perform well.

The negative GDP evolution in the U.S. turned to a positive 2.6% in 2010. Inflation remained at a low level, keeping rod prices stable.
Even though tire cord sales have not returned to pre-recession levels in North America, Bekaert continued improving output and performance levels that had begun at the end of 2009. By mid-year 2010, faced with soaring customer demand, we had to source products from both our local platforms and our overseas plants.

In open pit-mining, Bekaert high-carbon rope wire is a key component of shovel ropes and of ropes for excavators and draglines.

Our steel cord plant in Rogers (Arkansas) recruited additional personnel and further expanded its production capacity. As for the latest innovations, the plant now offers a wide product portfolio focusing more on high-in-demand ultra tensile products.

The Bekaert plant in Rome (Georgia) also took in additional personnel. It expanded its bead wire production capacity through the almost complete integration of the equipment of the closed Clarksdale plant. Both plants, Rome and Rogers, have been operating at high capacity levels since mid-year 2010.

Hose wire production has seen a full recovery back to 2008 levels. Spiral hose wire demand reached record highs. The main driver for this demand is the recovery of the earth moving equipment industry.

Our entire wire production platform in the U.S. delivered very good results. The continued focus on working capital reduction and control proved successful. And despite the relatively difficult economic environment we did not halt investments in capacity expansion and in new product and process development.

Our continuous efforts to provide our customers with high quality products proved successful.

Doing so, Bekaert aligned its production facilities in Shelbyville (Kentucky), Orville (Ohio) and Van Buren (Arkansas) with specific North American demand in various sectors.

In 2010, all of Bekaert’s wire plants in the U.S. received the ISO 14001 certification.

After a turbulent year in the eye of the financial storm, Bekaert Specialty Films in San Diego (California) brought its film business up to a stable level. The strategy of strong cost-control measures and a redirected focus on industrial applications proved successful.

As part of the takeover agreement with Arisawa, Bekaert sold its progressive composites plant in Vista, California and herewith divested its activity platform of pressure vessels, which accounted for less than 1% of the Group’s consolidated sales.

Performance at our wire plant in Vancouver (Canada) remained below expectations. Nevertheless, the plant showed improvement despite the challenging circumstances. Bekaert Wire Rope Industries, our joint venture company in Pointe Claire (Canada) which produces rope for mining applications, the oil & gas industry, and structure and lifting applications, delivered excellent results in a difficult year.

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