When the economic downturn hit in 2007-2008, for a while, many of us who had seen downturns in the past made some adjustments and moved on. This was because we HAD seen such downturns in the past. But this time, it wasn’t just a downturn. It effectively changed the way things were done. The good news is we are on the other side, and industry reports indicate US manufacturing is stabilizing. But this too is a bit different. It’s not a ticker-tape in the streets “its over” celebration. It is cautious optimism that still requires a close eye on how we conduct business. It is true in the business of fabricated metal products and it is likely elsewhere in manufacturing.

Some Recent U.S. Manufacturing Reports

Bloomberg started December with the headline “Manufacturing in US Expands at Best Pace in Five Months”. The Institute for Supply Management’s index, cited in the story says figures indicate that factories are waiting longer for the delivery of materials, a sign they say is a signal of strengthening demand. While a five month trend may not be cause for a parade, it is a sign of relief and stabilization that many have been looking for. For those of us in the fabricated metal parts industry we were glad to see a representative from our sector report to the ISM that”2017 is looking to be a very busy year.”

The U.S. News & World Report also has had articles indicating a slow summer for manufacturing is behind us. An October article noted the arrival of Fall led to greater production of construction supplies, autos and petroleum products.

US manufacturing purchasing managers are also apparently optimistic. Advanced Manufacturing quotes them as predicting a 4.6% increase for 2017. That compares with a .9% gain we saw in 2016 over 2015.

Fabricated Metal Products and the Recovery

In a previous blog, we discuss the role metal fabrication is playing in any recovery of the manufacturing sector. We all know that in manufacturing there is both ebbs and flows. In the past few years, we have seen some pretty low tides. As we start seeing positive signs it is helpful to watch them optimistically but with caution. We can’t panic when our shop floor is quiet for a few days and can not plan a parade when we are busy for a few months. We need to keep our heads down, focus on what we can control and make sure we continue to provide world-class products and services. We need to be innovative in how we employ technology and how we serve our clients. We simply must be proactive. I know, at Wiley Metal, we plan on continuing our proactive efforts.

What real word signs of stability are you seeing in the manufacturing sector? Are you seeing positive signs at all? What has changed about the way you conduct business? What is your outlook for 2017? Did 2016 meet your expectations? Let us know. We’ll soon be sharing some of our goals for the New Year, and would appreciate hearing yours.