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Stockholding - changing times

STEEL

ONE OF the biggest changes Rainham has made in the last year has been to diversify the steel grades it supplies. Previously, the company had monopolised the market for S355, a slightly higher-quality grade of steel than the average.About 18 months ago other stockholders also started supplying this type of steel.

Rainham had stayed out of the mainstream because many of their customers are stockholders as well.

'They would hold S275 and buy the better grade from us, and we weren't treading on each other's toes.

But then we felt we had to diversify because a lot of people moved into the S355 market and it collapsed a bit.'

Russian and Brazilian material with a dual grading covering both standards was also being imported, so Rainham decided to start stocking basic S275 grade steel as well.

'It's done us a favour really, 'Mr Webb says.'It's a much bigger market.We still have a good relationship with our stockholders and a lot of fabricators deal directly with us now because of the range of products we have and our quick delivery times.'

Mr Webb feels that the greatest change in the stockholding industry is an increasing lean towards fabrication and he worries about the effects.

He says: 'Everyone does shotblasting, painting and sawing now - that wouldn't have happened 10 years ago. Some are doing drilling and notching for the fabricators as well.

'That's not a route we want to go down.We're a traditional stockholder with big tonnages of steel.We were pushed into some processing activities because even smaller stockholders were doing it.

'I don't know where it's going to end.You're getting to the point where stockholders are going to want to become fabricators.They'll be doing the building soon, as well!'

For Rainham the biggest change has simply been the growth of the company.

'We can do with stock what 10 years ago you'd only have expected a mill to be able to do, ' says Mr Webb proudly.'As we've grown we've invested in stock, and as we hold more we've sold more, and we're attracting bigger jobs.'