COLUMBIANA, Ohio – Compco Industries posted strong sales in 2021 and the company’s vice president, Matt Werner, expects the trend to continue.
“I’d say we had a really good year in 2021,” Werner says. “Steel prices were up and that means that our revenue was up.”
The Columbiana-based company manufactures steel tank heads for a variety of markets, including the pressure vessel, water heater/storage, propane and cryogenic industries. Its products are also used as commercial and residential fire pits and in a range of artistic products, such as musical instruments.
Compco also produces custom metal-stampings for its clients.
Among the company’s biggest markets is the propane industry, which appears strong through 2022.
Meanwhile, Compco’s other customers project that their business is likely to either remain on track or be slightly better than 2021.
“We haven’t heard anyone saying they’re going to have a down year,” says Brad Smith, chief operating officer. “Everyone we’re talking to is expecting flat or slight growth.”
Smith says Compco will keep a close watch on materials purchases and forecasts from customers this year so it can plan for issues such as extended lead times.
“We’ve got to keep tabs on material buys and make sure everything is in line on how we buy steel and schedule our shop,” he says.
Managing the steel market is critical since prices have started to soften, Werner adds.
“We have to manage the steel market and decisions based on that,” he says. “We have to make sure we buy smart and sell smart.”
At the same time, Compco and the region’s manufacturers must adapt to changes brought on by the pandemic, one of which has been the tight labor market, Werner says.
“COVID was a big player in every decision we made last year,” he says. “It’s changed the way we think about business,” such as implementing work-at-home standards.
Compco is examining more opportunity for automation, for example, while also improving its information technology capabilities, according to Smith.
“We’ve looked heavily into more automation such as robotics,” he says, while making upgrades to Compco’s IT department, such as boosting cybersecurity firewalls.
The tight labor market has led the company to concentrate on employee retention measures such as stronger benefits packages.
Compco also remained active in community engagement, Smith says. The company contributed to local sports and academic programs, such as the Youngstown State University Penguin Club and YSU athletics.
“Our CEO, Rick Fryda, always encourages people to take time for community involvement,” he says.