When an executive looks to the success of a company such as Field Fastener Company based outside of Chicago they might first believe that they’re an exception to the economy. However, what is actually the case is that many industrial companies across the country, in all different types of industry, are actually seeing growth that warrants building a new warehouse similar to what Field Fastener is doing.
In a recent survey put out by ThomasNet, it was revealed that 45% of respondents reported growth over the last six months of 2010. 88% of all respondents anticipated future expansion. The Industry Market Barometer, a semi-annual report, surveyed 3,370 professionals all from North America. The majority are from small companies that have fewer than 100 employees and less than $10 million in yearly revenue.
A focus on specific strategies is the reason for so much of this success. According to 78% of those surveyed, a focus on customer retention and service very much contributed to growth in 2010. What had been occurring””and 68% admit that this was their greatest challenge””was that customers were cutting back or going out of business. So, when a previous customer might have been a yearly $100,000 in revenue, suddenly they were now only $50,000. Even worse, many customers were simply closing down.
Focusing on customer retention and service allowed these companies to work out deals that allow their clients to continue purchasing. With this growth in customer retention and service, many companies are adding positions in customer service. Specifically, of all companies that do plan on hiring, a third will pick up new customer service employees which demonstrates how important this strategy is.
The other two big challenges these companies are experiencing are with competition both domestic and international. 46% of companies cited domestic competition as their top challenge. The actions to this challenge vary. 71% are directing resources to get business in different industries. 46% are looking for new business in different geographies. Finally, 43% are working to fight in their core market.
29% of all companies admitted that overseas competition””with Asia, Europe and South America””was a top challenge for them. 28% of those are going to be looking for new business in those same markets. Surprisingly, there are companies hiring to help with this. 38% of companies will add sales and marketing employees which will help with both domestic and international growth.
In Washington, politicians say that the way to get our economy right is to create manufacturing jobs. What’s interesting, though, is that there are a ton of jobs just waiting for qualified people to apply. Of all companies that are going to add new employees, 43% intend on hiring skilled trade workers, 36% intend on adding line workers and 35% will hire engineering staff. What these numbers demonstrate is an expected rise in demand and the need to have employees ready to deal with it.
While the economy is experiencing difficulties and some companies are having a hard time, the industrial sector, as a whole, is experiencing growth. Specifically, 1.5 times more companies are growing rather than declining””a 45% to 18% ratio””which truly demonstrates how hard these companies are trying to get out of this recession. It’s with this hard work and ingenuity that the American economy will recover.