On the heels of two reports we shared earlier this month that portrayed a vulnerable manufacturing sector in Colorado, results of CompanyWeek's first Business and Operational Forecast offers better news. Momentum, not malaise, is the operative takeaway.
In late May, with the help of The Neenan Company and Manufacturer's Edge, we pushed out a 10-question survey to 991 manufacturers, randomly selected from CompanyWeek's readership, from 10 industries and the supply chain. Just under 10 percent responded. The results provide a snapshot of the sector, as do other data, but communicate a healthier ecosystem than the national reports we referenced. (Also read Dawn McComb's analysis of manufacturing real estate trends here.)
Most respondents were company owners or founders:
Industrial manufacturers were most eager to respond:
Consistent with Colorado's small- to medium-sized business community, most respondents were middle-market companies:
A big majority, nearly 62 percent, forecast revenue growth this year and another 40-plus percent were already bullish on 2017:
Companies are hiring -- 64 percent have plans to hire employees this year and 34% currently have job openings:
Respondents were more careful about investing in new facilities or expansions -- 16 percent were moving or expanding this year and of those 21 percent were onsite renovations:
Innovation's another matter. Fully 67 percent of respondents indicated plans to invest in technology in support of manufacturing operations -- production/processing/manufacturing assembly. Over 39 percent indicated plans to invest in business systems -- enterprise resource planning, financial systems, analytics and market and business development:
Questions we've raised about the adequacy of the local supply chain to support dynamic growth in manufacturing were reflected in the data: over half of respondents, nearly 53 percent, cited a preference for local suppliers but difficulty in finding them:
It all adds up to be an interesting counterweight to national reports that offered near-flunking grades for Colorado manufacturing. Challenges persist -- like workforce, reasonably-priced real-estate and a supply chain that forces manufacturers to source outside the region. Not to mention business development for those operating in under-performing sectors like oil and gas.
But as we report every week, there's a ton to build on here.
Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.