In its third quarter manufacturing outlook survey, WIRE-Net
, a non-profit economic development organization for the manufacturing industry in Northeast Ohio, found that Cleveland area manufacturers are having a good year and are optimistic that business will continue to be good.
Of the 89 WIRE-Net members who participated in the survey, half of the companies reported they anticipated increased profits in the upcoming year and 31 percent expected profits to equal last year. The majority of the companies were small manufacturers, with fewer than 50 employees and sales under $10 million annually.
In previous years, the top two concerns of WIRE-Net members were around attracting qualified workers and sales and new customers. This year, while respondents still reported that talent attraction was a top concern, other priorities shifted to costs.
“They are now talking materials, the Affordable Care Act and electricity costs,” explains Julie King, WIRE-Net’s vice president of resource development and communications. “Sales and customers must be flowing because it wasn’t a barrier. So that’s how we know companies are doing well.”
Tom Schullman, general manager of E.C. Kitzel and Sons
, a tool manufacturer for the automotive, aerospace, small appliance and mining industries, participated in the survey and agrees with the results.
The 30-person company has started to see an increase in business this year. “Toward the end of the second quarter we saw kind of an uptick in business and it’s carried over into the third quarter,” he says.
Schullman describes sales as “brisk,” which bodes well for the overall manufacturing ecosystem. “We sell tooling and that’s considered a commodity -- our customers don’t purchase unless they have a need for it,” he explains. “We’ve added new customers in the last six months. The primary thing is our customers are getting busier and it’s causing them to increase orders to us.”
Among WIRE-Net members, manufacturing accounts for 21,000 jobs and $1 billion in wages in Northeast Ohio, which in turn is the engine behind 13,000 additional non-manufacturing jobs.