At this writing in late January some mostly anecdotal information seems to support a notion that PVF industry fortunes may be on a rather steep upswing – or at least looked that way as 2010 drew to a close.

Partly this mood stems from conversations I had with Industrial Valco’s Rob Raban and Steve Livingston of Kelly Pipe in putting together this month’s cover story (“Master Distributors Talk Business”). Both took note of an upsurge in business as 2010 was drawing to a close. Raban in particular was pleasantly surprised when looking at his company’s financials to find that November was the best month of the year, whereas historically November tends to be one of IV’s slowest months. He also noted that December was starting out strong. (We spoke in mid-December.)

Then in mid-January ASA came out with the news that PHCP distributors’ sales last December not only were up 6.7% from December 2009, but Dec. 2010 sales were up 1.9% against 2008 – the first time ASA member monthly sales topped 2008 totals. ASA said both the plumbing and PVF markets were poised to grow about 4% through 2012.

Hard to say what’s behind this mini-surge or whether it might just be a temporary quirk. Let’s hope the invisible hand of the marketplace is getting a two-fisted workout.