CINCINNATI - Bill Stout Jr., president of SPIDA, said increasing popularity of spiral duct is likely to continue.

CINCINNATI - The trend towards spiral duct continues. Bill Stout Jr., president of the Spiral Duct Manufacturers Association (SPIDA), said increasing popularity of spiral duct is likely to continue. But the "secret" is out, and many new manufacturers have gotten into the business - "Some people think we may be reaching excess capacity, but I hope that's not the case," Stout said.

Stout is with Eastern Sheet Metal, where he has worked since high school. His father, Bill Stout Sr., is still active in this business, which has 110 employees and $12 million in annual revenues.

Eastern SM is helping to create $1.25 million worth of spiral duct for a new Nissan assembly plant in Canton, Mississippi, north of Jackson, for its light trucks, SUVs and Quest compact vans. Both Mississippi and Alabama have been a hotbed of activity, Stout notes.

Locally, the economy is strong in the public sector. The public school system infrastructure is about to embark on a much-needed spending spree after many years of neglect. There will be a new stadium for baseball's Cincinnati Reds, with some accompanying development of hotels and restaurants across the river in northern Kentucky. Hospitals, medical office buildings, jails and universities continue to hold strong, but the private sector is down, especially the manufacturing industry's "big hitters" according to Stout. Speculative office space, driven by a downturn in the tech markets, is almost non-existent.

Spiral duct has advantages in certain building hvac applications, according to SPIDA, including energy efficiency and ease of installation. Its use often requires fewer hangers and connectors, less weight and improved airflow over rectangular duct. A trend toward higher ceilings and exposed ductwork also promotes increased use of spiral duct.

Eastern has a Lockformer coil line with Iowa Precision TDC and TDF, Shop Data Systems plasma cutters, Ovalformer flange maker and an Engel corner inserter, among other equipment, in a shop that covers 95,000-sq.-ft. and serves 20 states.

The company also produces rectangular and oval duct, along with pressed elbows, saddles, bellmouths and reducers.

As for SPIDA, Stout said some work remains to be done with standards and specifications for flat oval ductwork. "We hope to work more closely with ASHRAE in that regard," Stout said.

One question looming for SPIDA, he said, is whether the relatively small association (approximately 60 members) should become more politically active. Stout cites the recent uptick in steel tariffs as an example. "Many guys were bidding projects based on cheap steel prices, now the prices are going up and they're in trouble," Stout said. "It's hard to predict steel prices. But should we be more politically active? That's something we're going to have to address."