Manufacturing queued for growth in 2013, businesses look to expand supply chain

The economic recovery has brought good things for businesses across the country, especially for those in manufacturing. After the recession hit the industry like a ton of bricks, industrial production has steadily risen in the years since, and is now back to the level many analysts equate with pre-recession performance. This year looks to be an even stronger, as a new survey indicated most firms expect growth as well as larger supplier networks in 2013. Companies expanding operations can consult manufacturing recruiters and supply chain recruiters to inform future talent searches.

Sales were up, hiring remains steady
In the latest MFGWatch survey, manufacturing professionals said they were encouraged enough by last year's sales results to expect big things out of 2013. Sixty percent of respondents said they saw an increase in sales last year, yet only 30 percent expected to experience such in a start-of-the-year survey. Fifty-two percent saw an uptick in sales in 2011.

Perhaps buoyed by better performance, surveyed companies planned on stable hiring throughout the year. About 25 percent of respondents, the same as 2012, said they would expand their workforce and invest in new technology this year; 9.8 were hiring, but not investing in tech. The number of firms expecting to cut jobs fell from 35 percent to just over 29 percent.

Companies also voiced more support for reshoring production. Last year, 19 percent of respondents said they reshored production, and 25 percent look to do so this year.

Supplier acquisition a top priority
Supply chain recruiters may see a big rise in the number of talent searches companies commission, as the survey revealed many firms expanded their supplier base in 2012 and look to do so again in 2013. Fifty-one percent expanded their supply chain last year, while just 30 percent did so in 2011. Forty-seven percent of respondents reported they expect to grow their supplier network in 2013.

The most important factors for respondents when looking at a potential new supplier were product quality (84 percent), overall cost (56 percent), delivery schedule (37 percent) and reputation (23 percent).

The expectation among many to grow the supplier base could be in part due to many experiencing a supply chain disruption last year: 57 percent admitted to encountering such obstacles, which are growing increasingly more costly for manufacturers.