The United States population has doubled in the last 60 years—has the mechanical insulation industry seen the same kind of growth? Although the industry was not developing publically-available data 60 years ago, it is fair to estimate that the insulation industry has doubled, if not tripled. Additionally, the forecasts for the next 2 to 3 years are indicating the potential for double-digit growth (10–15%), which is welcome news after the difficulties created by the recent recession.
Once again the mechanical insulation industry has shown its resolve and is recovering steadily. The recovery was slow and challenging, varied geographically and by industry segment, but as a whole is continuing. The industry is primarily dependent upon the national economy and while many signs point to sustained moderate growth, several economists are quick to point out just how fragile the economy remains. In spite of this, there is reason to be optimistic about the future of the mechanical insulation industry, which will present opportunities that are both challenging and exciting.
This article will review some of the most notable industry changes that have occurred over the past 60 years to demonstrate how the industry has evolved to create today’s current industry environment. The only consistency over that period is that change is inevitable, and with change comes new possibilities.
The first challenge is to select a few of the most notable industry changes. The list is extensive and varies according to individual perspective. This article will focus on 4 areas: the definition of a mechanical insulation contractor, channel conflicts, training/education requirements at all levels, and industry consolidation.