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Managing growth, workforce were the top challenges facing manufacturers in Q4 2018

By Bart Taylor January 14, 2019, 10:53 am MST

Each week, company executives outline challenges, opportunities, and needs in interviews with CompanyWeek writers. Here's a summary of data from profiles published the final quarter of 2018.

In Q4 2018, we published 48 in-depth profiles:

Primary Industry: Oct.-Dec. 2018   

Bioscience and Medical         4
Brewing and Distilling             7
Built Environment                  3
Cannabis                              1
Consumer and Lifestyle         11
Contract Manufacturing           2
Electronics and Aerospace      2
Energy and Environment         1
Food and Beverage                 6
Industrial and Equipment         5
Supply Chain                          6

Total                                     48

The top challenge for manufacturing companies continues to be managing growth. However, workforce has jumped back up to the #2 spot (as it was in the first half of the year). In Q3, competition had secured the #2 ranking.

Challenges: Oct.-Dec. 2018

Managing Growth       40%

Workforce                 25%

Government Regs      17%

Market Awareness     13%

Competition               10%

Location                    10%

Workforce/Labor/New Employees, real estate/space and finance/funding continue to be the top three needs for companies profiled (same order as Q3). Efficiency had made an appearance in the top five in the first half of 2018, and new suppliers/service partners ranked in the top five in Q3, neither of which appeared in the Q4 top five.

Business Needs 
Workforce/Labor/New Employees      40%
Real Estate/Space       23%
Finance/Funding          19%
Marketing                    17%
Equipment                   10%
New Customers            10%

In two CEO roundtables I hosted late in the year, executives also expressed concerns about promises made by incoming Governors Polis and Newsom during the campaign. A fear is that business may be asked to carry an additional regulatory or financial burden to fund new social programs.

And tariffs continue to be a topic of conversation. Manufacturers I asked last year seemed to be evenly split on the issue. We'll be convening more CEO roundtables to discuss this and other issues throughout the year. More on the topic later. 

Bart Taylor is publisher of CompanyWeek. Email him at btaylor@companyweek.com.

For a year's worth of data, or to receive updates from CompanyWeek profiles on a real-time basis, subscribe to our All Access+Data package, available at discounted rates through January. Click here>>.

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