An industrial PVF mainstay is readying for the next chapter of his life. Silbo Industries Vice President of Product Development and Sales James Mullally announced at the summer PVF Roundtable meeting in Houston that he is retiring Nov. 1 after 51 years in the industry.
Mullally started his career at Gulf Supply in Beaumont, Texas, in 1965 and has spent the last 27 years with Silbo in New Jersey or Texas. Silbo is the largest importer in the U.S. of fittings, flanges and forgings for carbon-steel and stainless-steel pipe and tubing. Silbo sells only to distributors.
“I love the people you do business with every day,” he said. “You watch them grow up and you watch their kids grow up. This is a fun business and it’s been a fun ride.”
Mullally, who was featured on the November 1981 cover of Supply House Times, has seen plenty of evolution in the business over the last five decades. “There have been tremendous changes in our industry,” he said. “The Internet has been the biggest boon. It’s opened up the supply chain. It surely is the fastest way to the customer and the end user that we’ve had available so far to the industry.”
Mullally counted at least four depressed periods he has been involved with in the PVF sector, including this current downturn. “This one very well could be the worst one,” he said. “In previous downturns you still had inquiries and you had to decide how low you were going to go in order to just move inventory. Today, you don’t even have inquiries to make that decision. I don’t see it turning around anytime soon. Politics and regulations have been tough on this industry. There’s almost no possibility of turning things around until something changes in that regard. It’s an uphill battle right now.”
Mullally added the current downturn could have consequences when the market recovers. “You are going to have to start over with newer people because the successful people have moved to other areas or moved on from the industry,” he said.
Looking back, Mullally is thankful for the long industry run he has enjoyed. “It’s been my life. It’s the only thing I’ve ever known,” he said. “When I first started in the warehouse at Gulf Supply I thought I wouldn’t last more than a couple months and here I am 51 years later. I’m going to miss it.”