I still remember his tropical-print shirt, which stood out among thousands of people walking the FABTECH® show floor at the Las Vegas Convention Center. He worked at a major wind tower production facility in California, which perhaps could explain the tropical print he was wearing. But it didn’t fully explain what he told me: The company was busy as ever and had a backlog through 2011. Yes, 2011, and this was in October 2008, weeks after the Lehman Brothers collapse.
He wasn’t the first to tell me things were humming along nicely in late 2008. Many small companies in metal fabrication already had good cash positions, and they weren’t particularly worried about credit. The real concern, they told me, was their customers and other large companies down the supply chain.
Their worries were not unfounded. As credit markets froze, many in metal fabrication had the rug pulled out from under them. By January 2009, it was a different ballgame altogether, and that wind tower backlog went the way of the credit markets.