Brierley Hill-based tube and pipe distributor Van Leeuwen Wheeler is one firm determined to weather the stormy economy.
The company has opted to remain competitive by expanding its product range, a move that reinforces its commitment to the UK despite the turbulent trading conditions.
Part of the multi-national Van Leeuwen Pipe and Tube Group, Van Leeuwen Wheeler has two major distribution hubs in the UK - Brierley Hill, where it also has its head office, and Middlesbrough. The company's new investment plan is under way and is designed to increase capacity at both facilities, which in turn will enable the amount of stock to be increased.
Managing director Jeff Blakey said: "The situation in the market overall at present is probably best described as turbulent.
"None of us is able to escape the impact of price rises which are affecting the full range of steel products, not just our sector.'
He said the firm estimated that with surcharges being added for raw materials and energy costs and the effect of a weak sterling position against the euro, some prices were up by as much as 35 per cent - with second-half increases yet to come.
"At the moment we are seeing prices changing daily and lead times lengthening, but our primary concern is to maintain our commitment to customers," added Mr Blakey.
The firm's strategy is one of balancing customer needs against market conditions. As prices rise, instead of reducing stocks, the company has opted to increase them.
"It could be tempting to reduce stocks but that would put supply to customers in jeopardy in the months to come,"said Mr Blakey.
"With some products we are working on 24-week lead times. We don't want to be in the position of pulling back now and not being able to meet customer orders in months to come."
The strategy is paying off. The company has made progress building its position in the UK market and is continuing to invest in future growth.
As part of its investment plan the company has added a further 40,000 sq ft of warehousing at its Middlesbrough operation, which has increased capacity by 40 per cent and improved its cutting capabilities.