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Leading Edge Alliance: Manufacturers indicate increased optimism for 2018 – planning for potential and seizing opportunity is critical

CONTACT: Michelle Meyer, Senior Marketing Manager

WISCONSIN – The Manufacturing & Distribution team at Schenck, a full-service CPA and consulting firm, jointly published the results from the 2018 Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) National Manufacturing Outlook Survey.

More than 450 manufacturing executives participated in the survey, which includes the opinions of respondents who produce industrial/machining, transportation/automotive, construction, food and beverage, and other products.

Optimism is high as manufacturers’ responses indicated they have a more positive outlook about the economy for 2018 than in 2017. The growing U.S. and global economies, rising energy and commodity prices, and improved business and consumer confidence support this positive outlook.

Survey results for 2018 include:

·         Eighty-one percent of manufacturers believe their revenue will increase in 2018, with 72 percent eyeing organic growth in the U.S. as their primary opportunity to increase sales.

·         Manufacturers are more optimistic about the regional and national economy than the global economy, yet notably the optimism rating for all three has increased by more than 10 points since the 2017 outlook.

·         Sixty-two percent of manufacturers expect their sectors to grow, more than doubling the 2017 outlook; food and beverage and construction materials cite the highest optimism for sector growth.

·         Manufacturers’ top three priorities are growing sales, cutting costs, and addressing the talent gap.

·         As in past years, labor remains a significant challenge. More than half of survey participants cited the labor shortage as the greatest risk or barrier to growth, and more than half of manufacturers expect to increase hiring.

·         Respondents plan to utilize technology to reduce risks and build a competitive advantage; 75 percent said that they will investigate/prioritize cybersecurity in 2018, and 50 percent will investigate/prioritize Big Data/ERP/IoT.

Despite the improved outlook, hurdles remain. The dichotomy of growing sales while cutting costs may also present a challenge. Through all the potential changes, working with a team of industry-experienced advisors to provide insight and answers continues to be critically important.

“Manufacturers, long known for their ability to adapt in an evolving industry, continue to innovate effectively,” said Karin Gale, CPA, shareholder and Manufacturing & Distribution team leader at Schenck. “We’re also seeing manufacturers focusing significant resources around cutting-edge technology as a way to reduce risk and enhance their long-term sustainability. In today’s competitive global market, finding ways to reduce cost, improve productivity and drive revenue is critical.”

View and download the complete analysis at schencksc.com/lea-manufacturing-outlook.


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