ThomasNet Industry Market Barometer reveals that manufacturers, service providers and distributors are reinventing themselves to get ahead
New York, NY - April 19, 2010 - The economic recovery for the U.S. industrial sector is outpacing the national economy, according to new results from ThomasNet's second Industry Market Barometer.
Of the 1,176 industrial professionals responding to the Barometer survey, 27 percent report that their businesses grew during the second half of 2009. That's up from the 17 percent that reported growth during the first half-year. The difference represents a 59 percent rate of growth. Comparatively, the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at 5.6 percent in the fourth quarter, and just 2.2 percent in the third.
In addition, supporting an upturn for this sector, fewer respondents report a decline in their business from the first to the second Barometer (54 percent to 41 percent).
What is the secret to success for those respondents reporting growth? They cite two top strategies: 1) selling into new industries (36 percent) and 2) introducing new products or services (33 percent). In fact, when asked what part product development will play in their 2010 plans, two-thirds (62 percent) of the 1,176 respondents say that if it isn't important, it is critical.
Most respondents (71 percent) say their online strategy is also important or critical for 2010. An
emphasis on online sales programs has already proven successful for Liberty Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of clean room and contamination control supplies for organizations such as NASA. Liberty's website delivers 40 percent of the company's total sales, attracting customers who would have otherwise never discovered or considered them in the past.
"These businesses are showing exceptional strength, resilience and innovation," said Eileen Markowitz, President of ThomasNet. "Industry is gearing up for a strong comeback. Those who are succeeding are combining creativity with cutting edge technology strategies."
Most respondents to the ThomasNet Industry Market Barometer represent the backbone of the industrial/manufacturing sector, small businesses. Seventy-one percent work at companies with fewer than 50 employees, and about 70 percent report revenues of under $10 million. Other respondents include major global manufacturers.
Consistent with the first Industry Market Barometer, the top challenge to growth across all respondents, regardless of size, remains how to cope with customers who are cutting back or going out of business. Indeed, new product development and seeking entry to new industries are not limited to those businesses that have grown.
"We're becoming more future-focused, and more strategic, in our outreach to clients," said Bob Kaiser, President, Liberty Industries. "By watching customer demand, we're able to identify emerging markets, and develop new extensions to our product lines."
Mr. Kaiser is like most respondents (65 percent) who remain optimistic about a recovery in the year ahead, projecting that their companies will see growth by June 2010. The remainder don't expect losses; rather, 30 percent expect business to stay the same.
Given their own penchant for innovation, it's no surprise that when asked who their role models are, many respondents show admiration for visionaries like Apple's Steve Jobs. Asked whose management style they admire most, they frequently name Warren Buffett and Bill Gates. Many volunteer that they are most inspired by their own fathers and grandfathers.
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ThomasNet helps companies in the industrial marketplace to increase sales, and serve their customers more efficiently.
For more than 110 years, ThomasNet (previously Thomas Register) has connected buyers and suppliers of industrial products and services to do business with one another. The company's flagship offerings are ThomasNet.com, where more than 3 million buyers per month connect with sellers online, and Web Solutions, which help industrial companies leverage Internet technologies to improve the performance of their websites and achieve their business goals. At the core of each Web Solution is the Navigator Platform, ThomasNet's proprietary technology designed to provide industrial buyers with all the tools and functionality they need to make intelligent buying decisions online.
*ThomasNet Web Solutions is part of Thomas Industrial Network which includes ThomasNet.com, ThomasNet News, and Web Traxs®. Thomas Industrial Network offers a range of Internet marketing solutions to help industrial suppliers achieve their business goals through the integration of detailed content and leading web technology.