L. B. Foster Company is a leading manufacturer, fabricator and distributor of products and services for the rail, construction, energy and utility markets. As used herein, “Foster” or the “Company” means L. B. Foster Company and its divisions and subsidiaries, unless the context otherwise requires.
For rail markets, Foster provides a full line of new and used rail, trackwork, and accessories to railroads, mines and industry. The Company also designs and produces concrete railroad ties, insulated rail joints, power rail, track fasteners, coverboards and special accessories for mass transit and other rail systems worldwide.
For the construction industry, the Company sells steel sheet piling, H-bearing piling, pipe piling and provides rental sheet piling for foundation requirements. In addition, Foster supplies precast concrete buildings, fabricated structural steel, bridge decking, bridge railing, expansion joints and other products for highway construction and repair.
For tubular markets, the Company supplies pipe coatings for natural gas pipelines and utilities. The Company also produces threaded pipe products for industrial water well and irrigation markets and sells micropiles for construction foundation repair and slope stabilization.
The Company has a joint venture with L B Industries, Inc., L B Pipe & Coupling Products, LLC, in which we have a 45% ownership interest. This venture manufactures, markets and sells various products for the energy, utility and construction markets.
The Company classifies its activities into three business segments: Rail products, Construction products, and Tubular products. Financial information concerning the segments is set forth in Item 8, Note 19. The following table shows for the last three fiscal years the net sales generated by each of the current business segments as a percentage of total net sales.
L. B. Foster Company’s rail products include heavy and light rail, relay rail, concrete ties, insulated rail joints, rail accessories and transit products. The Company is a major rail products supplier to industrial plants, contractors, railroads, mines and mass transit systems.
The Company sells heavy rail mainly to transit authorities, industrial companies, and rail contractors for railroad sidings, plant trackage, and other carrier and material handling applications. Additionally, the Company sells some heavy rail to railroad companies and to foreign buyers. The Company sells light rail for mining and material handling applications.
Rail accessories include trackwork, ties, track spikes, bolts, angle bars and other products required to install or maintain rail lines. These products are sold to railroads, rail contractors, industrial customers, and transit agencies and are manufactured within the Company or purchased from other manufacturers.
The Company’s Allegheny Rail Products (ARP) division engineers and markets insulated rail joints and related accessories for the railroad and mass transit industries. Insulated joints are manufactured at the Company’s facilities in Pueblo, CO and Niles, OH.
The Company’s Transit Products division supplies power rail, direct fixation fasteners, coverboards and special accessories primarily for mass transit systems. Most of these products are manufactured by subcontractors and are usually sold by sealed bid to transit authorities or to rail contractors, worldwide.
The Company’s Trackwork division sells new and relay trackwork for industrial and export markets.
The Company’s CXT subsidiary manufactures engineered concrete railroad ties for the railroad and transit industries at its facilities in Spokane, WA, Grand Island, NE and Tucson, AZ.
L. B. Foster Company’s construction products consist of sheet, pipe and bearing piling, fabricated highway products, and precast concrete buildings.
Sheet piling products are interlocking structural steel sections that are generally used to provide lateral support at construction sites. Bearing piling products are steel H-beam sections which, in their principal use, are driven into the ground for support of structures such as bridge piers and high-rise buildings. Sheet piling is sold or rented and bearing piling is sold principally to public projects as well as the private sector.
Other construction products consist of precast concrete buildings, sold principally to national and state parks, and fabricated highway products. Fabricated highway products consist principally of fabricated structural steel, bridge decking, aluminum and steel bridge rail and other bridge products, which are fabricated by the Company. The major purchasers of these products are contractors for state, municipal and other governmental projects.
Sales of the Company’s construction products are partly dependent upon the level of activity in the construction industry. Accordingly, sales of these products have traditionally been somewhat higher during the second and third quarters than during the first and fourth quarters of each year.
The Company provides fusion bond and other coatings for corrosion protection on oil, gas and other pipelines. The Company also supplies special pipe products such as water well casing, column pipe, couplings, and related products for agricultural, municipal and industrial water wells. In addition, the Company sells micropiles for construction foundation repair and slope stabilization. Also, the Company owns a facility that will be leased to its corporate joint venture.
In May 2009, the Company completed the formation of a joint venture with L B Industries, Inc. and another party. The Company has a 45% ownership interest in the new joint venture, L B Pipe & Coupling Products, LLC, and made capital contributions of $1.4 million in 2009.
During the third quarter of 2009, the Company purchased approximately 35 acres of land in Magnolia, TX for approximately $1.1 million and built a facility which will ultimately be leased to the joint venture. This venture will manufacture, market and sell various products, including couplings and micropile, for the energy, utility and construction markets. The joint venture commenced operations during 2010.
MARKETING AND COMPETITION
L. B. Foster Company generally markets its rail, construction and tubular products directly in all major industrial areas of the United States through a national sales force of 55 people, including outside sales, inside sales, and customer service representatives. The Company maintains 14 sales offices and 17 warehouses, plant and yard facilities located throughout the country. During 2009, approximately 4% of the Company’s total sales were for export.
The major markets for the Company’s products are highly competitive. Product availability, quality, service and price are principal factors of competition within each of these markets. No other company provides the same product mix to the various markets the Company serves. There are one or more companies that compete with the Company in each product line. Therefore, the Company faces significant competition from different groups of companies.
RAW MATERIALS AND SUPPLIES
Most of the Company’s inventory is purchased in the form of finished or semi-finished product. With the exception of relay rail which is purchased from railroads or rail take-up contractors, the Company purchases most of its inventory from domestic and foreign steel producers. There are few domestic suppliers of new rail products and the Company could be adversely affected if a domestic supplier ceased making such material available to the Company. Additionally, the Company has an agreement with a steel mill to distribute steel sheet piling and bearing pile in North America. The Company also purchases cement and aggregate used in its concrete railroad tie and precast concrete building businesses from a variety of suppliers.
The Company’s purchases from foreign suppliers are subject to the usual risks associated with changes in international conditions and to United States laws which could impose import restrictions on selected classes of products and anti-dumping duties if products are sold in the United States below certain prices.