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How I Survived the Recession

Originally posted in April 2011.

Four companies that are thriving after the recession, and how they are doing it.

Miles Free is the Director of Technology and Industry Research for the Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA). He has 36 years of hands-on experience in the areas of manufacturing, quality and steelmaking.

How do you interpret the current situation for manufacturing?
MF:
Our industry is probably in the best position it’s been in 31 consecutive months. Our PMPA Business Trends Report is an index that reports on sales, and our last one with 80 shops reporting was at 111 that are up 20 points from December’s 91 and it’s the highest level we’ve had since 2008. (It had been as low as 64 in May 2009). So we’re very confident that we have a recovery, and that our kind of components are going to be in high demand in the coming couple of months.

What’s happening in the industry that gives you optimism?
MF:
One of the things I’ve seen is a number of members trying to find out if other members have open machine time. That tells me they have orders they can’t complete, so they’re trying to find who has capacity in order to provide the products that are critical on time.

What is happening to raw material supply?
MF
: The pipeline is kind of dry for raw materials, so lead times are really extending. For some items you can be out four to six months.

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