Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Steel Cladding – A Farmer’s MVP (Most Valuable Product)

Steel’s versatility and durability have made it an ideal building material for various construction projects for the past 150 years. Over that time, steel has earned a well deserved reputation for economy and proven performances with long life cycles. Combine these benefits with steel’s ability to be recycled and engineered for retrofits, and steel cladding undoubtedly will become the number one choice of building materials across all industries.

The Canadian Sheet Steel Building Institute commissioned a non-biased third party, Strategic
Research Associates, to examine the state of the Canadian farm. Specifically, the study examined farmers’ steel cladding purchasing habits and steel cladding usage over the past 10 years. The study queried 471 farms across Canada with 43 farms in British Columbia; 96 in Alberta; 96 in Saskatchewan/Manitoba (combined); 97 in Ontario; 96 in Quebec; and 43 in the Atlantic Provinces. The results are within ± 4.5 percentage points for complete representation of all Canadian farms and are as follows:

The Changing Canadian Farm

Since 1996, there has been a significant shift in farm type across the nation. Livestock farms have dropped by almost 20%, and the balance has shifted to a greater number of mixed crops (up to 28%) and cash crops (up to 39%) respectively. The study found that overall, there are fewer farms across Canada; however, the farms that do exist are considerably larger.

The Purchase of Steel Cladding

Strategic Research Associates note that a 10-year period is too long to adequately explain strong trends in increases of steel cladding purchases. However, the results are quite interesting as a whole as well as regionally. In 1996, only 47% of Canadian farmers said they had purchased cladding in the last 10 years. By 2006, that percentage of farmers grew to 79%.

Regionally, it was found that the nation’s three major markets are consistent with the overall average as shown in the previous graph. The study noted that significant growth occurred in the Quebec market. This is explained through the expansion of swine and dairy operations and the replacement of existing building stocks.

Steel, the Right Choice

While the study showed moderate increases in steel cladding purchases on the farm, the question remained on ‘how’ popular it was compared to other types of exterior cladding such as wood, vinyl, or aluminium. Results concluded that steel cladding is the top seller and gaining market share at the
expense of vinyl and aluminium. In 2006, 88% of Canadian farmers preferred steel cladding for their farm structures, which is up from 1996 by 9%. (See Figure 3.)

The types of farm buildings steel cladding is used for is consistent with 1996 numbers:
  • 80% use it for machinery sheds
  • 69% for storage buildings
  • 65% for barns 
  • 26% for houses 
Other factors to note about choosing steel:
  • When given a choice, Canadian farmers choose Canadian steel 
  • 90% of Canadian farmers are either satisfied or very satisfied with their steel cladding

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