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AMERICAN MANUFACTURING 2013

I had someone recently ask me what I see as the biggest stories in American manufacturing for 2013. Four things sprang to mind:

1. OBAMACARE. Anxiety among businesses large and small has been rampant since the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead in mid-2012. Manufacturers have seen rapidly-rising health insurance costs as insurance providers girded their loins for this brave new world. With health care a large and growing line item for most of us and our associates, ObamaCare has been a big story.
2. SHALE. North America’s oil & gas boom, driven by technological improvements, has entire industries rethinking how they operate. Our energy assumptions are being reset – largely for the better.
3. AUTOMOTIVE. This leaner sector still casts a long shadow through the supply chain. The robust rebound to meet pent up demand has many manufacturers smiling.
4. RESHORING. Though some industries will never return to N America, some at the margin are moving away from the rising labor and transportation costs in Asia and toward the shorter lead-times and greater flexibility of being closer to their markets. The total cost of ownership (TCO) has swung more in our favor.
In contrast to much of what has occurred over the past two decades, it’s energizing to recognize that more of the big stories of this year are actually POSITIVE for N American manufacturing.
What do YOU see as the Big Story for American manufacturing this year?