High material prices here to stay?

ST. LOUIS – While some industry pundits have expressed hope that material prices may fall back to “normal levels” in 2005, Kent Wooldridge says those are unreasonable expectations.

During the UMMA/UMSA Partnership Conference in St. Louis this past weekend, the United Marine Manufacturers Association and United Marine Suppliers Association president told the audience high material prices may be here to stay.

Though Wooldridge said the industry hasn’t accepted this reality yet, he added that it’s important for marine manufacturers to begin passing on the price increases to dealers and to end customers, rather than trying to absorb them.

Industry expert agrees

In a speech during the conference, Doug Graff, vice president and general manager for the Composite Resins division of Resolution Specialty Materials, supported Wooldridge’s assertion, stating that raw materials may never return to their previous low prices.

Little change in the world’s refining capability combined with expectations of continued instability in oil-producing nations mean that the price of oil, gas and the products made from those two substances will likely continue to be volatile.

Graff also believes that the impact probably hasn’t been felt at the consumer level. As consumers do feel the impact, the industry may see a decrease in demand.

For more information on this topic, see the November/December issue of Boating Industry magazine, which mails next week.

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- Liz Walz

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