Conditions for U.S. manufacturers have been anything but positive since December 2007. These businesses have lost at least 1.96 million jobs and don’t plan to increase employment for at least another year. But senior managers, responding to a ThomasNet survey, believe conditions are looking up and they are carrying important lessons forward from this recession.
For one thing, these executives aren’t expecting handouts from the federal government’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act program. Instead, they are looking to innovation as key to a better future. Several survey respondents indicated that “developing new or innovative” products will be more important than continuing to offshore work which has been a common strategy to improve business conditions. For the second part of 2009, nearly 15% of manufacturers will expand into new product and business lines. To support this expansion, 6.2% indicate they will increase online marketing while 6.1% say they’ll widen sales channels. According to one respondent, "[m]arketing is the key and innovation is mandatory for small corporations." This new positivism extends to business predictions for the rest of 2009 and into next year.
About 1 in 3 of these companies expects sales to grow during that period while about 4 in 10 predict a steady state in revenues.[Source: Optimism Amid Crises, Industry Market Trends, ThomasNet, 9.38.09]