Skyrocketing metal prices hit shower-hardware market
So far in 2006, bath-enclosure manufacturers have been hit with price increases for their glass and aluminum commodities. In August, the manufacturers reported spiking hardware prices as well.
Raw-material prices for copper and nickel—metals used to make brass plating—have skyrocketed since January, forcing hardware manufacturers to pass along price increases to their customers, report several owners of bath-and-shower enclosure companies.
The price jumps vary by product and company. Tom Whitaker, president of Mr. Shower Door in Norwalk, Conn., received a 9-to12 percent price increase on products from one manufacturer. Another hardware manufacturer instituted price hikes of 33-to-43 percent, depending on the product.
“Coupled with the aluminum [price] increases and the glass [price] increases, these do have an impact,” Whitaker says.
Rob Ashenden, president of National Glass & Shower Door Inc. in Milwaukee, says price increases on shower hardware have been a long time coming.
“Figure that 20 years ago [hardware] prices seemed to be what they were a year ago. Now, prices are finally going up.”
Rising fuel costs throughout the last year forced price increases for raw materials across many industries, including metals.
In the first seven months of 2006, cash prices for nickel doubled, increasing 22 percent from June to July alone, according to data from the London Metal Exchange. Copper prices followed suit, increasing 73 percent from January through July and 4 percent from June to July, according to the LME.
No hardware manufacturers would comment on the price increases. However, Daniella Jones, shower-department manager for Custom Hardware Manufacturing Inc. in Keokuk, Iowa, says her company internally combats rising material costs by “developing cost-effective manufacturing processes such as automation and high-volume hardware runs.”
Jones adds that CHMI also buys a greater volume of raw materials to keep prices down.
Bath-enclosure manufacturers say they deal with higher hardware prices in several ways.
Ashenden says many pass along some costs to their own customers. “You do what you have to do. We’re raising prices because we have to keep up with the market.”
Altering the type and amount of hardware for enclosures also helps, Ashenden says. “One thing that has helped us is that a lot of our shower doors have really been heavy glass, rather than frames,” he says.
Whitaker adds that some manufacturers look into whether they could use different metals for the plating, such as aluminum.