Metal Shipping Barrels, Drums, Kegs, and Pails

SIC 3412

Companies in this industry

Industry report:

This category includes establishments primarily engaged in manufacturing metal shipping barrels, drums, kegs, and pails.

Like many manufacturing industries in the United States, the manufacture of metal barrels, drums, kegs, and pails was on a decline in the early 2010s. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, steel shipping barrels and drums, excluding beer barrels, accounted for more than 24 percent of total industry shipments in the late years of the first decade of the 2000s. Steel pails claimed 20 percent of shipments. The remainder of the market was split between nonspecific barrels, drums, pails, and other metal containers. After climbing from $2.2 billion 1997 to $2.3 billion in 2000, total industry shipments declined to $2 billion in 2001. Shipments rose significantly in subsequent years, to $2.7 billion in 2002 and $3.17 billion in 2005, before plummeting at the end of the decade.

The top two states in this industry in the early 2010s in terms of revenues were Ohio with $103.9 million and Kentucky with $100.2 million, representing 29 percent and 28 percent, respectively, of the industry�s total sales in 2010. Top states in terms of number of establishments in the industry were Ohio, Texas, and California, which together accounted for about a third of all U.S. firms. Although 63 percent of firms employed fewer than 50 people, about 80 percent of employees worked in companies that employed more than 50.

Employment levels of most occupations in this industry declined in the 2000s. Those facing reductions of more than 40 percent were machine feeders, metal/plastic workers, maintenance and repair workers, hand packers, punching machine operators, material handlers, miscellaneous machine operators, and welding machine setters.

Modifications in the design of steel drums and higher-quality steel improved drum and pail performance considerably. The U.S. Department of Transportation also helped in improving the quality of the industry when its Performance-Oriented Packaging Standards went into effect in October of 1996. The new standards called for better formed individual drum parts, improved gasket and closing rings, and more secure joining of individual parts.

Improvement in technology and superior steel products resulted in incredible improvements to the drum and barrel industry. Computer-controlled operations within the steel-processing industry improved thickness tolerances, resulting in stronger but thinner steel while also eliminating pinholes. This meant that steel container manufacturers in the late 1990s and early 2000s had far better raw materials than they had just a few years before.

Cost pressures deterred steel drum demand, which climbed 31 percent between 2007 and 2008, but consequently, domestic demand for steel and fiber drums grew very slowly through the late 2000s, while pails advanced at a slightly higher rate during the same time period.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly 150 establishments operated in this category at the beginning of the twenty-first century. By 2008, industry reports showed a drop to an estimated 125 establishments engaged in manufacturing metal shipping barrels, drums, kegs, and pails valued at $311.9 million. Industry-wide employment was 5,122.

By 2010, those figures had dropped even further. According to figures from Dun & Bradstreet, there were 120 U.S. establishments operating in this industry in the early 2010s. Together these firms generated $355.8 million in sales of metal barrels, drums, and pails and employed 4,729 people.

In 2010 metal barrels, drums, and pails were manufactured at 69 establishments responsible for 57 percent of industry share with $181.1 million in shipments employing 2,121 workers. There were 30 plants that manufactured metal shipping drums, constituting 25 percent of establishments in the industry, with 1,960 employees who shipped $156.2 million in drums. Metal shipping barrels were produced at 17 establishments where 478 workers shipped $17.6 million in goods. While no sales figures were available, metal shipping pails were produced at three facilities employing 160 workers.

One of the industry leaders in the early 2010s was Dallas, Texas-based Trinity Industries Inc. Sales for the company reached $2.1 billion in 2010 with 9,270 employees. Another large company was Greif, Inc. of Delaware, Ohio, which had 2010 sales of $3.4 billion with 12,250 employees. With North America headquarters in Bridgewater, New Jersey, Mauser Corp. reported more than $1.4 billion in revenues and 4,200 employees in 2010. By then, Mauser had been manufacturing steel drums for more than 100 years. Other smaller but significant companies in the industry included Menasha Corp. of Neenah, Wisconsin, with $1.0 billion in revenues and 3,210 employees, and Park-Ohio Holdings Corp., with $813.5 million in sales and 3,200 workers.

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