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Manufacturers Indicate Increased Optimism for 2018 – Planning for Potential and Seizing Opportunity is Critical According to Leading Edge Alliance National Manufacturing Outlook Survey

January 8, 2018

For the second year, nationally recognized professional services firm EKS&H has jointly released 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:
  • 81% of manufacturers believe their revenue will increase in 2018, with 72% 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 compared to the 2017 outlook.
  • 62% 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% said that they will investigate/prioritize cybersecurity in 2018, and 50% 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. 

“Whether the right strategy for any manufacturer involves talent, transactions, taxes, or technology, there will be some critical planning involved to seize the opportunity, and we offer expertise to help set our manufacturing clients up for success,” said Chris Otto, EKS&H audit partner and manufacturing client group leader.
 
For more information about the survey, please contact Chris Otto at (303) 740-9400 or cotto@eksh.com.
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