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Manufacturers on 2010: “It’s got to be better.”

This has been a common response to questions I ask other manufacturers of various products from custom store fixtures to automotive parts to widgets of every stripe. The year we soon leave has been “atrocious,” horrendous” or “dismal.” As I have heard repeatedly, many of them look forward to 2010 because, “It’s got to be better.”

But it doesn’t.

What they’re really saying is one of two things: “I’m hopeful that we see improved business” or “We cannot survive another year like 2009.” Though general economic activity has improved over the course of the year, there’s no guarantee that every company will find better times ahead. I believe that we’ll see more failures among manufacturers, banks, real estate developers, etc as those hanging by a thread finally run out of stamina, patience or cash. Especially cash.

The Great Recession has been epic in depth, length and severity. Those of us who survived it will tell tales of these harrowing days in hushed tones and knowing looks. “You think THIS is tough? Why, back in Aught-Nine, it was ten times worse than this!” we’ll preach. These days will change how we approach our businesses henceforth.

If 2010 does indeed prove to be better than 2009 – and I fervently believe that it will – then we’ll have great year-over-year comparisons to make from our nadir and lessons to apply to make ourselves better in 2011 and beyond. Those left standing will find better days ahead.

Mike Lauber
mrlauber@tuscodisplay.com
www.linkedin.com/mikelauber