By Steve Van Meter, CPA

Summary — CliftonLarsonAllen’s (CLA) Manufacturing and Distribution Outlook report reveals the clever ways companies adjust to the economy, workforce issues, changing technology, and more.

CLA’s sixth annual Manufacturing and Distribution Outlook report has been published and is ready for you to review, and absorb. These survey results are a composite of opinions from hundreds of metal fabricators, printers, food processors, contract manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), and others from across the country, with approximately 80 percent of the companies having fewer than 200 employees and less than $100 million in revenue.

Information is power, and we believe that business owners and leaders who are aware of their industry’s challenges and opportunities have a sharper competitive edge. Knowing the playing field is advantageous on its own, of course, but what ultimately matters is how you internalize that insight within your unique company.

For instance, in this year’s report, we keep coming back to the reality that our era’s economy is frenzied and unpredictable — it rises or falls on a moment’s notice. We contend that manufacturing and distribution companies must accept this as normal and create their own firm foundations on which to operate and grow. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to achieving that level of durability.

And our survey results show that our respondents do, in fact, find some very clever and ingenious ways of crafting solutions to what would seem like unsolvable problems, including workforce shortages and rapidly changing technology. How will you create a tailored plan that takes you closer to the dreams you have for your one-of-a-kind company, your employees, your family, and yourself? We hope our analysis and advice help you intentionally consider all possibilities.

Understand the Value Triangle first

If you have followed our industry survey over the years, you are familiar with CLA’s simple visual model, called The Value Triangle.  We developed The Value Triangle to help companies understand how all of the components (we call them engines) of their business come together to achieve sustainable, lasting success.  No one engine is a thing unto itself; all are interdependent and affect each other. The report is broken into the four categories of the Value Triangle — leadership, execution, growth, and finances — that every company must master to achieve true business excellence. This is our industry worldview, and our report reflects it.

Report highlights

Some highlights of this year’s report include:

  • Planning for succession, plus an infographic that shows what can happen when you have a plan in place — and when you don’t
  • Finding solutions to workforce challenges
  • Operating steadily amid economic ups and downs
  • Making use of the latest technology
  • Managing capacity
  • Preparing to enter (or not) into global trade
  • Aligning revenue expectations and profitability
  • Crafting product and customer diversification strategies

Wherever you take your company from here, we hope our Manufacturing and Distribution Outlook lends some helpful insight on building and managing your business. Companies like yours are the backbone of our country, and the people who own and lead them are its heart. All of us at CLA salute you for your hard work, job generation, and countless contributions to our economy and way of life.

We wish you all continued success.

Steve Van Meter, Principal

Manufacturing and Distribution

CliftonLarsonAllen LLP


Phone: 303-265-7963