The MHEDA Journal - First Quarter, 2013 - (Page 46)

FORECAST A Mix of Clouds and Sun INDUSTRY SUPPLIERS U BY MARY LOU JAY ncertainties about the U.S. fiscal cliff, the U.S. and global economies and the effect of four more years of an administration unfriendly to small business is having a negative impact on suppliers’ and manu- facturers’ outlook on the materials handling industry for the coming year. Many of those interviewed had strong results in 2012, but even those who expect a similar increase for their own companies in 2013 are less optimistic about the outlook for the industry as a whole. Most companies are looking for only moderate growth, and several mentioned the possibility of a slowdown in the second half of 2013 or a double-dip recession due to economic policies. Food, beverage and pharmaceuticals are anticipated to remain the strongest markets in the coming year. Only a handful of those surveyed expect to add to their facilities in 2013, but that may be due, in part, to the fact that several already grew their space sometime during the last two years. About half said they had already hired new employees in 2012, and had no need of more people; many of the remainder have at least tentative plans to bring on more administrative, customer support and/or manufacturing personnel. Those companies who are hiring frequently cited the need to ensure that they can accommodate their customers’ increasing demands for up-front, solution-providing support and faster turnaround 46 MHEDA | themhedajournal.org and delivery times. A large percentage of the responding supplier companies said that their biggest investment in the coming year would be in their staff; others mentioned technology and equipment upgrades. Although the online world in the form of social media has been embraced by some suppliers and manufacturers, most seem to be taking only tentative steps and are adopting a “wait and see” attitude. The most popular social media site appears to be LinkedIn, which companies use both for professional contacts and employee recruitment. Other businesses are posting videos on YouTube as a means of sales and customer education. Few companies seem convinced, however, that Twitter and Facebook are beneficial to building business in a B to B environment. Some companies do report positive results from using social media, but others who have made it part of their outreach efforts find it hard to point to definite benefits they have gained from that investment. If growth in 2013 slows as expected, businesses may try to do more on the social media side to develop business opportunities. But if some of the looming uncertainties are resolved quickly, and businesses and investors do not take too hard a hit when the current tax codes expire, they may find that they don’t have to take that route, because 2013 goes better than expected. Under current conditions, however, suppliers and manufacturers know that their customers, like consumers, are approaching spending warily – and that could have a negative impact on the economy and on the industry as a whole in the coming months. 3D Storage Systems Ltd. (Newmarket, ON, Canada) Although Mike Inger, sales design, said 2013 sales can be hard to predict, the company hopes to grow by 10-20 percent next year. “We’re increasing our marketing efforts, developing a new website, traveling to the U.S. and getting in front of the dealers there,” Inger said. Although many companies in today’s competitive marketplace are focusing on the lowest priced products, 3-D Storage Systems plans to focus on selling a service and adding value for its customers. Big Lift LLC (Lombard, IL) Big Lift is a small company compared to some in the forklift industry, but Bill Pedriana, director of sales/marketing, says that gives the company an advantage. “As the economy goes through its ups and downs, we can react quickly to trends; that’s something that has led to a lot of growth for us.” Pedriana projects 25-30 percent growth for Big Lift this year, which may come in part from the introduction at ProMat 2013 of its new retailer order picker. The company’s http://www.themhedajournal.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The MHEDA Journal - First Quarter, 2013

President’s Perspective
From the Desk of Liz Richards
MHEDA’S 2013 BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND MBOA
Ask Your Board
Member Profile
MHEDA Member Profile
At Work
2013 Industry Forecast
Distributors Forecast
Suppliers Forecast
MHEDA Members Exhibit at ProMat
MHIA Expects Slow Growth in 2013
Modest Growth for Industrial Trucks Sector
Cautious Optimism in Conveyor Industry
EBITA or ROA?
Get Your Game On
New Members
Spotlight on Association News
MHEDA University Calendar
MHEDA Milestones
New Products
Index of Advertisers by Product Category

The MHEDA Journal - First Quarter, 2013

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