All good things
must come to an end. Writing this blog for the past year has been a wonderful
experience, but it’s time for me to pass the baton into the able hands of
Charlie Alter, who will be offering his advice on a weekly basis right here at http://www.allbusiness.com/manufacturing/3777495-1.html.
We’ve been running in tandem for awhile, and now he’ll be on his own.
function as Manufacturing Editor. I’ll just be less visible. My main goal will
be to support our new relationship with the Manufacturing Extension Partnership
and continue to develop helpful content based on advice from the MEP Editorial
I don’t have to
tell you that these are not easy times to be a small manufacturer. But I think
there are reasons to be optimistic over the long term. The biggest problem for
most of you probably has to do with credit, and resolution of that is already
on its way. Credit may be a little harder to find for a while, and it may cost
a little more, but it will be there.
For those of you
connected to the automotive industry, the other big problem is the sad state of
the whole sector. Government help is clearly on the way, so there may be hope,
even if it’s ultimately in the form of a semi-nationalized auto industry,
similar to some European airlines.
Over the longer
term, the most important question for small manufacturers – the one you should
be thinking about every day – is how to deal with the reality of a global
marketplace. This may involve learning how to sell in foreign markets, which
can be a little scary. What do you do, for example, if something goes wrong.
Pick up the phone and have a conversation in Chinese? The answer is, Of course
not. You call the English speaking distributor you’ve carefully selected and
resolve the matter through him. Believe it or not, the U.S. Government can be a
big source of help getting started in this area.
Competing in the
global marketplace is not impossible. The cost advantage that low-wage
countries have in manufacturing is surprisingly small – about 17 percent on the
average, which means it’s a lot less
in some areas. That’s not insurmountable. But closing the gap will not be easy.
Which brings me
to my last point. The fact of life that small manufacturers have to face is
that it’s not easy. You may be thinking, “It was never easy. True
enough. But, even if you’ve been working hard for the past twenty years to get
to where you are, you’re not going to be able to coast.
Some of you who
are reading this post should probably consider getting out “While the getting’
That’s not my
choice. I’m going to stick around as Manufacturing Editor here at
AllBusiness.com. I’ll just be working behind the scenes now.