After a very strong fourth quarter of 2011, plastics companies are bullish that sales will increase this year, according to the Manufacturers Association of Plastics Processors.
“There's a tremendous amount of optimism in the U.S. plastics industry,” said MAPP's executive director, Troy Nix.
Nix outlined results of MAPP's 2012 economic report during the Plastics News Executive Forum in Tampa. The Indianapolis-based trade group surveyed more than 120 processing executives in a broad range of areas, including injection and blow molding, rotational molding, extrusion and thermoforming.
Most of the respondents had sales from $5 million to $50 million.
MAPP said 65.1 percent of processors said their sales have increased from a year ago. And 83.3 percent said they anticipate a 12-month increase in sales.
Nix said the companies usually see sales dip in the fourth quarter. But 59.3 percent said fourth-quarter 2011 sales increased from the third quarter. “This is probably the strongest fourth quarter that I've seen, in doing this economic survey for over 10 years,” he said.
The survey showed that customers are bringing work back to the United States. “It's the first time that the reshoring initiative is outpacing the outsourcing initiative,” Nix said.
Finding and developing a skilled workforce was the No. 1 issue facing processors, according to the MAPP report. “If you're not developing these skilled people in-house, you don't have a prayer. Because they're not in the marketplace,” Nix said.
And some MAPP members have gotten creative. Nix said one uses stay-at-home moms for some work. Another company recruits mechanically skilled people from auto body vocational programs.
Other issues include operational excellence, managing growth, handling volatile raw material pricing, cost management and economic uncertainty and government restrictions.