Local manufacturers
poised for growth

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Al Key/DRC
Edsco Fasteners, located on Worthington Drive in Denton, is among the growing manufacturing companies nationwide.

Edsco Fasteners Inc. is ready for growth.

The Denton-based manufacturer is looking to ramp up production next year of its specialty bolts, after investing this year in additional equipment, said Jeff Pieper, president of Edsco.

“The company’s had a good year and has shown improvements in a lot of areas,” Pieper said. “We’re very optimistic about our opportunity to grow.”

Edsco is not alone. Nationally, manufacturing in the U.S. grew nearly a full percentage point from October to November, the fastest pace in more than two years. And that good news is carrying over into Denton, said Aimee Bissett, the city’s director for economic development.

There has been ramped-up production in factories, and a boost in hiring and manufacturing orders nationwide. In Denton, some of the major manufacturers are hiring right now, including Tetra Pak and Consolidated Metco.

Manufacturing activity in the U.S. has now expanded for six straight months after hitting a rough patch in the spring, according to the Institute for Supply Management, a trade group of purchasing managers. The steady gains suggest that growth is remaining solid in the current October-December quarter.

The institute announced earlier this week that its index of manufacturing activity rose to 57.3. That was up from 56.4 in October and was the highest since April 2011. A reading above 50 signals growth.

One component of the index, a measure of hiring, rose to its highest level in nearly 18 months. And a gauge of export orders reached its highest level in nearly two years. Overseas demand is benefiting from modest recoveries in Europe, Japan and China, according to ISM.

The encouraging figures in ISM’s report, however, conflict with weaker recent data on factory activity, making it difficult to discern a clear trend, according to Joshua Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

“We continue to believe that this indicator is overstating the health of the broader economy,” Shapiro told The Associated Press.

For Peterbilt, Denton’s largest private employer, the trucking industry is not on the upswing like the national manufacturing industry, but it remains stable, said Derek Smith, a company spokesman.

“Trucking has not seen the upsurge that manufacturing in general has because it relies on so many different market segments, but it’s still vibrant,” he said. “We’re still making what we need to make, but I wouldn’t say it’s been a recent boom.”

For example, businesses cut back on orders for long-lasting factory goods in October, according to a government report Wednesday. Orders for durable goods, which are meant to last three years, fell 2 percent.

A fall in aircraft demand drove the decline. But companies also spent less on machinery, computers and metal parts. The weak showing suggests that businesses might have been reluctant to order more goods during the 16-day partial government shutdown in October.

JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.


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