Man Manufacturing Plant

A national survey of the manufacturing and distribution industries was conducted by top 10 accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen during the first quarter of 2012.

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New U.S. Survey: Manufacturing and Distribution Concerns Prompt Growth Strategies

  • 7/31/2012

Milwaukee — July 31, 2012 — A major new survey of U.S. manufacturers and distributors finds that while many business leaders remain concerned about economic uncertainty, health care costs, and hiring, they are experiencing success through controlling costs and increasing sales. Manufacturing and Distribution Outlook: Findings of a National Survey of the Manufacturing and Distribution Industries 2012 was conducted by top 10 accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen during the first quarter of 2012.

“Manufacturers and distributors have been facing these challenges for several years and have shown great resiliency,” said Erik Skie, CliftonLarsonAllen managing partner for manufacturing and distribution. “The current uncertainty is creating risks but also opportunities for forward-thinking leaders. Even smaller manufacturers are seeing opportunities beyond the U.S. market and are targeting exports for growth in the coming years.”

According to the survey, six in 10 companies reported an increase in overall profitability over the past 12 months, while 22 percent experienced a decrease in overall profitability and 17 percent remained the same. Respondents represent a wide variety of manufacturing and distribution industries, with 46 percent reporting revenue of less than $15 million. Twenty-nine percent have revenue between $15 million and $50 million, and 26 percent have revenue of more than $50 million. A total of 368 survey responses were received from 25 states.

Among the findings of the 2012 Manufacturing and Distribution Outlook are:

  • Overall economic uncertainty remains a major challenge.
  • Health care costs are a significant concern.
  • Large companies need to find and keep good employees.
  • Increasing domestic sales is a major focal point.
  • Exports are up; more companies plan to export.
  • Energy-related tax incentives are popular.

Leaders surveyed are employing a number of strategies to remain viable and profitable:

  • Increasing domestic sales
  • Controlling costs and pricing
  • Operational efficiencies and cost reductions
  • Focusing on getting closer to customers
  • Seeking mergers and acquisitions

Among the comments provided by survey respondents with regard to increasing viability and profitability were:

  • “Build a cash reserve and keep the hiring of new people at a minimum. Look for efficiencies internally with new technologies or outsourcing to free up staff.”
  • “Reduce costs through layoffs and attempting to restructure various lease and maintenance contracts.”
  • “Continual reinvestment and evaluation of flow in our plant.”

CliftonLarsonAllen provides accounting, tax, and consulting services to more than 4,400 manufacturing and distribution entities nationwide with an emphasis on improving profitability, reducing risk, building business value, and planning for succession. The firm’s professionals are available for interviews and articles about the Manufacturing and Distribution Outlook survey findings. 

About CliftonLarsonAllen

CliftonLarsonAllen is one of the nation’s top 10 certified public accounting and consulting firms. Structured to provide clients with highly specialized industry insight, the firm delivers assurance, tax and advisory capabilities. CliftonLarsonAllen offers unprecedented emphasis on serving privately held businesses and their owners, as well as nonprofits and governmental entities. The firm has a staff of more than 3,600 professionals, operating from more than 90 offices across the country. For more information about CliftonLarsonAllen, visit