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A year later, the challenge for moldmakers and their suppliers is meeting demand

What a difference a year makes! At last year's annual convention of the American Mold Builders Assn. in Orlando, FL, the atmosphere was downright depressing. We were only eight weeks into 2010, after a brutal 2009. Many mold company owners saw their peers struggling in worse ways that they had, with some talking bankruptcy or even closing their doors altogether. The tendency was to "turtle"-pull in all exposed extremities, wait it out, and hopefully survive. Attendees were visibly pessimistic and uncertainly prevailed.

in Orlando, FL, the atmosphere was downright depressing. We were only eight weeks into 2010, after a brutal 2009. Many mold company owners saw their peers struggling in worse ways that they had, with some talking bankruptcy or even closing their doors altogether. The tendency was to "turtle"-pull in all exposed extremities, wait it out, and hopefully survive. Attendees were visibly pessimistic and uncertainly prevailed. Conversation was cautious as few dared to hope.

Fast-forward to Las Vegas in 2011: After a shaky start, 2010 turned out to be the best year ever for many of these mold manufacturers. In response, many expanded their plants and added new machinery and equipment. Some mentioned they are sold out of machine time for the next six months as backlog builds.

The machine tool suppliers who were in attendance with their table-top exhibits said the only problem they have now is meeting deliveries. Martin Gorski, head of sales-west for GF AgieCharmilles, said, "We've emptied out our demo centers, and now our biggest challenge is meeting delivery. We've seen quite an uptick since last summer."

Scott Boyd, president of Ellwood Specialty Steel, commented that he's "completely overwhelmed" with business. "We had a very strong 2010, and January 2011 was a record month. February looks to be a record month as well across all segments."

The story was much the same with all the suppliers exhibiting at the convention. That's good news.

Suppliers are happy. Most importantly, moldmakers are happy. When moldmakers aren't happy, ain't nobody happy. And when moldmakers are happy, they party in Vegas!—Clare Goldsberry

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