The industry, whose costs have soared by about 20 per cent in recent years, is in a “critical” state, according to the C.D. Howe Institute.
“There is a lack of confidence in the industry and a growing perception that the industry is at risk,” said Kevin Kelly, president of the industry group, Canadian Crown Equipment Manufacturers and Exporters.
The institute, which advocates for the sector, said it has recorded more than 800 cases of non-payment in the last three months, most of which have been related to the crown industry.
“The industry is in an urgent need of capital,” Kelly said.
The industry’s finances are precarious.
The average rate of return on investment (ROI) in the sector is about 8.7 per cent, according the CME Group.
That is more than twice the average of 10 other industries surveyed by the institute.
Kelly said he’s heard from a number of customers who are “devastated” that their equipment isn’t working as expected.
He added that customers are often frustrated that there’s no guarantee their equipment will be repaired or replaced, when it’s supposed to.
Kelly, whose company, CME, owns the Toronto Maple Leafs, was also in a discussion with Crown equipment dealers about the possibility of buying their products, but said the dealers said the company has been unable to find an agreement with them.
Kelly also said that some Crown dealers are now using credit cards to buy equipment that has been out of production for months.
The crown industry has also been hit hard by falling prices.
In February, Crown said its average price for a new crown rose to $9,967.20 from $8,937.40 in January, a drop of more than 70 per cent.
The company is also seeing “challenges” with supply, such as a shortage of the crowns used in the manufacture of the hockey mask, and a surge in demand for crowns in Canada’s burgeoning black market for hockey equipment.
Kelly estimates that about 10 per cent of the equipment that is sold in Canada has no production capacity, which is a serious concern given the industry’s growing reliance on outside manufacturers.
“It’s a critical industry and we are trying to get through it,” he said.