It seems as though everyone is taking polls, as the fall election is the topic du jour. I decided to get into the action with my informal state-of-the-industry straw poll taken at FNA 2006. What I found was not too surprising except for the consistency of the answers across a wide spectrum of different manufacturers.

....Let me first say that FNA was a great time to meet many of you. From my perspective it was a great success, and MTI is to be commended for their efforts. As I talked with many, I forgot to poll some of you because I was more interested in getting to know you than in asking my poll questions. Consequently, my sample size is fairly small but represents a good cross-section of the manufacturers present at the show.

....While several were unable to give specific numbers for 2006 performance relative to 2005, the typical answer was a 10 to 20% increase. Throwing out the high and averaging the numerical respondents, the average is a 22% increase from 2005. Only one respondent indicated that 2007, from the vantage point of FNA 2006, looked flat. All others felt 2007 would be much the same as 2006. Those willing to speculate beyond 2007 felt that 2008 had promise as well, with possible softening as 2009 approached.

Was 2006 your best year? More than 50% of the poll respondents said yes. With the strong predictions for 2007, the expectation is that 2007 will be another record year for many companies in our industry.

Here are some of the comments I received as respondents summarized what they are seeing in their segment of the market:

  • Sales worldwide are up more than domestically
  • Expected 2007 growth to come from China
  • Future growth predicted stronger in the international markets
  • Organizational changes have encouraged growth
  • 2006 growth was steadier than past years
  • Education (of the market) is key to future growth
  • Following niche markets will be key to growth
  • Automotive portion of the market is flat, at best
  • Market cycles predict softening by 2009

The broader indices are in agreement with our straw poll. September marked the 40th month of consecutive growth for the manufacturing sector of the U.S. economy. The numbers graphed below agree with this ongoing expansion with a recent slowing of the expansion being experienced.

This means that it is a great time to be in manufacturing, particularly in the thermal-processing/industrial-heating markets.Industrial Heatingis honored to be your choice for information in this growing market, and we look forward to growing with you in the years to come. We are a resource for you, and if we can help you to continue to be successful, please contact us.

Another thing to consider about our current market conditions is that it gives us something to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is a few short weeks away, and I can't help but consider that if you are looking for something to give thanks for this holiday season, you need look no further than the present business conditions of our industry. I hope your holiday season is an enjoyable one and that you are blessed with continued prosperity, good health and the love of family and friends.

Reed Miller