GeoBusiness Plate Tectonics

Spheres (and Ramps) of Influence

YRG: Link in the Chain
Linking Steel

In politics, as in trade and the economy, there’s a term known as geopolitical plate tectonics: if one superpower gains an advantage with a nation or region, another superpower will establish an advantage with a neighboring nation or region.

Think of NATO and the old Warsaw Pact. Or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s movies, timed to compete with Sylvester Stallone’s movies.

Alliances are rarely static. And so, the use of “plate tectonics.” Alliances shift. Things change.

We’re not political scientists. We buy, sell, and rent quality new and used yard ramps. Still, we feel the effects of geopolitical plate tectonics, especially when steel is caught up in trade and tariffs issues.

The industry has experienced something of an earthquake this year with tariff news. From manufacturing to logistics, prices bumped up—the result of real and projected costs.

That pricing on the actual, tangible foundation of our enterprise—namely: the steel components of our yard ramps—has a house-that-Jack-built effect on most every aspect of our business model.

So, it’s a bit of a surprise when we discover that “the United States was the world’s fifteenth-largest steel exporter in 2017.

We don’t know the nuances of the import-export steel scenario, such as the quality of steel on our exports vs. the quality of our imports.

What we do know, courtesy the U.S. International Trade Administration, is that the two largest importers of our U.S.-manufactured steel are Canada and Mexico. 

These are the spheres of influence and geopolitical/geobusiness plate tectonics at work. All informed by our real and projected pricing structures.

Thanks to The Yard Ramp Guy’s reputation and deep, mutual, professional trust between us and our manufacturers, we’re able to keep our prices competitive.

Through all the rumblings—of tariffs and trade wars in geobusiness plate tectonics—what doesn’t change is our commitment to quality, attention to detail, and transparency.

Our man McCoy Fields digs to China, then digs in China, and he finds a startling number of people sleeping in old bunkers.

Click HERE to dig into it.

Yard Ramps Across the Industrial Spectrum

Serving the National Interest

The Yard Ramp Guy: Serving Industries Nationwide

Our mobile yard ramps and stationary dock ramps are designed to deploy as solid workhorses, without complaint or glitch. Used properly, they reqire minimal maintenance and can provide years of excellent service.

Part of the beauty of them (and yes, we readily find aesthetic value) is in their strength and what seems like simplicity—simple lines, simple angles. And yet, our manufacturers are always looking to design and engineer enhancements to further increase the value of this inventory. More on those enhancements in the coming weeks.

The number of businesses and industries that utilize The Yard Ramp Guy’s product lines continues to amaze and impress us. And we again want to spotlight the various industries that regularly put our mobile yard ramps and stationary dock ramps into service.

Agribusiness – including farm-to-table through processing plants and distribution hubs.

Automotive Industry – including car and truck parts, tires, and oil and gas companies.

Building Materials – commercial and residential and anything used to build or renovate a structure: these are among the essential elements of the national economy.

Distribution & Shipping – whether ground-to-dock or ground-to-truck, in good times and in times of disaster recovery, these sorting facilities and warehouse stations strategically serve as fuel for the workforce and lifelines in time of need.

Food Processing – The US food processing industry creates revenue of some $750 billion each year for more than 21,000 companies and some 1.5 million people. The food industry is elemental to our states, cities, communities, schools, and dinner tables.

Recycling – factor in the notion that recycling is a nearly $100 billion per year industry, employs nearly 140,000 people, and helps the environment.

And so much more. Add Hollywood movie productions and professional sports teams…and literally thousands of businesses that depend on our yard ramps and loading docks, all toward streamlining their operations, growing their businesses, and keeping their workers safe.

As always, we’re proud to contribute to the forward progress of the national economy.

Steeling the Future

A Demanding Supply

Yard Ramp Guy: Steel
Bridging the Steel

Even with the continually evolving nature of international trade agreements, ours remains a very connected world. At The Yard Ramp Guy, we keep an eye on this through a prism of steel: which regions are producing more and producing less, how that affects price.

Steel, of course, accounts for the major component of our yard ramp inventory. In our view, that steel floor plate with diamond tread (otherwise known as “diamond plate”) is one of the foundations of a safe and secure ramp. The diamond plate is where your forklift enters and exits the ramp; its integrity is essential. (As our driver’s ed instructor used to say, “The best ride is an uneventful ride.)

Combine that with the serrated grating which accounts for the rest of the ramp’s length, and expert welding, and we’ve generally sketched out a description of All-Steel Frame & Deck construction you’ll find on the majority of our yard ramp listings.

As we’ve described in this space, steel pricing depends on a number of factors, most of which aligns with the rules of supply and demand. Namely:

  • When Supply is up, Demand and Price go down.
  • When Supply is down, Demand and Price go up.

We won’t predict where the price of steel is headed, though there are some key indicators that give us hints.

China—by far the world’s largest producer and consumer of steel—is experiencing a slowdown in production and use. This would suggest the price of steel is going to rise.

However, other regional players in crude steel are showing production growth. Asia and Oceania (which excludes China) has grown impressively in recent years, followed by the European Union and North America.

So, the experts suggest regional steel production that competes with China won’t completely compensate for China’s slowdown, though it will help bridge the gap.

What does this mean for the United States yard ramp industry? Again, we won’t predict. What we do know is that our longstanding and excellent business relationships with our main manufacturers of yard ramps allow us to remain competitive—and often ahead of the competition—when it comes to fair pricing for our customers.

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Quotable

So, McCoy Fields Wait for it:

Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.Seth Godin

How Steel Pricing Works

YRG steel
Yard Ramp Guy: Steel Watching

Or: Steeling for Fluctuations

The majority of our buying and renting customers prefer portable loading docks made of steel. While aluminum is not as prone to rust or corrosion, steel is the stronger metal. It is significantly more durable than aluminum so yields a longer useful lifespan.

And while a completed loading dock can involve a number of components, from rubber to rivets, the greatest volume of material is steel.

Therefore, steel cost factors into the price of a portable loading dock more than any other element, including labor.

That’s where things get a bit complex. Steel is considered a global commodity—traded worldwide like copper and coffee. In the global arena, steel prices fluctuate on a daily basis.

Generally, the rules of supply and demand drive the rates of steel. In a nutshell, here’s the basic law of supply and demand:

  • If the Supply is up, the Demand and Price are down.
    Yard Ramp
    Steel: The Dock's Foundation
  • If the Supply is down, the Demand and Price are up.

Steel prices reached an all-time low in of $365 per tonne in March of 2016, down from a high of $749 per tonne in 2011. China, the world’s largest producer of steel, for many years has also been its largest consumer of steel, and supply has outpaced demand.

With China now scaling back on infrastructure projects—due, in part, to its economic slowdown—the country will also scale back its production by some 20% (except for, we kid you not, its construction of ballpoint pens; click HERE for a fascinating story). As such, economists predict, demand for steel will outpace supply for the first time in some ten years.

Naturally, that may well have an effect across all industries that rely on steel production, including the loading dock industry. Pricing structures would be informed by manufacturers, which would be informed by purchasing power—all of which aligns with the laws of supply and demand.

The Yard Ramp Guy continues to monitor the situation closely.

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Quotable

Okay, McCoy Fields . . .continuing our alphabetical quotation challenge, we B presenting this:

Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical.Yogi Berra

Yard Ramp Spotlight: Brighter

Reviewing the Industries We Serve

YRG Spotlight

Back in January, we began our Yard Ramp Spotlight series. This effort draws attention to some of the major industries our loading dock inventory serves throughout the United States.

(You have easy access to these complete profiles through our Industries We Serve page.)

Though this is by no means exhaustive, our dozen industry summaries begin to form a substantial profile, and not just of the sectors to which we contribute. Put together, these categories begin to resemble the U.S. economy itself.

From Manufacturing to Recycling, from Agribusiness to Food Processing, from Event Planning to Trade Show Facilities, and from Building Materials to Construction: collectively these major industries make up a substantial percentage of the GDP.

As we’ve noted all throughout this year’s Spotlight series, The Yard Ramp Guy is fully aware that we’re not the focus of companies that buy and rent our yard ramps. In fact, we’re honored and proud of that reality; it means that our inventory is doing its job in all the right ways—working fluidly and with no complaint or glitch underfoot and under forklift wheels to help streamline operations.

Things change. Business sectors shrink and expand. Supply and demand often dictate economic needs and production. That said, let’s look at one industry example from our series:

When we profiled the Recycling Industry in January, the statistics showed that it generated about $90 billion per year in revenue.

Today, the most updated statistics point to the recycling industry generating some $106 billion in economic activity.

Again, we’re proud to contribute, especially in a scenario where we’re selling or renting a used yard ramp to a recycling business.

By its very nature, the production of recycled materials lowers costs and is better for the environment, as it needs less energy to manufacture. Everybody wins.

YRG Industries we serve
The Yard Ramp Guy: Proudly Contributing

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Quotable

Okay, McCoy Fields . . . we read your blog this week and think we’ve sunk your battleship:

Every government has as much of a duty to avoid war as a ship's captain has to avoid a shipwreck.Guy de Maupassant