From an article by Tom Content in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
Companies looking to get involved with the wind power supply chain should be ready to compete with top-notch quality and be prepared to adapt to swings in business activity in the sector, speakers at a wind energy symposium said Wednesday.
The wind power supply chain has plenty of opportunity, as the industry aims for a return to growth next year after a down year in 2010, said Jeff Anthony, business development director with the American Wind Energy Association.
“There are a lot of challenges in the wind industry. It’s not an easy industry to get in, but there are plenty of opportunities,” Anthony said.
Anthony addressed hundreds of participants at the Milwaukee symposium sponsored by Wisconsin Wind Works, a group focused on building up Wisconsin’s participation in the wind power supply chain.
David Lisle, chief executive of Wausaukee Composites, is already a veteran of the fluctuating wind market.
“Tremendous opportunities do exist, but it can be treacherous waters,” Lisle said.
In a few short years, the company has opened a plant in Cuba City that employed as many as 90 people, and then had to close it twice because of a downturn in the economy and tight credit markets that make banks reluctant to finance projects, he said.
But the company has diversified to the point where it now has four different customers in the wind industry instead of just one, he said. The company announced plans recently to expand its wind component factory in Cuba City to 76,000 square feet and create up to 200 jobs.
The challenge for suppliers dealing with the wind sector is to realize that this may be a new market in the United States but it’s not new around the world. European makers of wind turbines have been relying on European suppliers for years, and are now shifting to the U.S. market, he said.