By Steve Staub (Editor, MadeInDaytonBlog.com)
Moderate growth is expected by most in the coming year.
Two weeks ago we conducted a Manufacturers Outlook survey and all manufacturing companies in the 14 county Dayton Region had the opportunity to participate. Thank you to all those that did! As I reviewed the results I was surprised by some things and other responses I sort of expected. Here’s what I found:
Let’s start with the big one. What percent of growth or decline do you see for your company in 2013? 80% of the respondents said they expect to see an increase, with 60% of them expecting the increase to be at least 10%. Only 20% of all respondents expect business to be flat or see a slight decline.
A common indicator of business and economic health is capital investment. The good news is that a majority of those companies surveyed (55%) plan to buy equipment this year, spending an average of $500k each.
Fear can be paralyzing for a business owner (or anyone for that matter) and it seems we’ve had plenty of things to be fearful about recently. When asked for their biggest fear in the year ahead, 90% of the responses had something to do with the government, with answers such as: regulations, taxes, federal spending, health care and government gridlock.
I thought that I might see pessimism from people when asked about how they feel about the overall manufacturing industry. Even though most reported feeling positive about their company’s future, I know that owners can often be somewhat biased (we have a lot riding on our personal business success). But, surprisingly, 85% feel positive about our industry as a whole (I would put myself in that category).
Even with overall optimism, there will be challenges ahead. What is the biggest challenge according to our survey? Finding people. No surprise there. Having a ready and able workforce is a challenge that has haunted us for a couple years now. There are no instant solutions, but with sustained and intentional efforts, we can fix it.
So, what is the biggest take away from all this? The sky is not falling (in case you might have thought it was). Manufacturing in our region is strong and will likely be growing this year. That growth will be moderate, steady and measured, but it sure beats the alternative.
I think this year is going to be a good one and many other regional manufacturers agree. How about you?