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Making Time for Opportunities

Shannon Wetzel

The metalcasting industry is busy. The economic recovery plus a difficult labor market has many working at capacity with a backlog of orders piling up. According to AFS’ September 2021 outlook survey of corporate members, an overwhelming majority of respondents are expecting a somewhat positive to very positive outlook in the next 12 months, with nearly all seeing at least some increase in sales. Meanwhile, labor shortage is a top concern.

It’s tempting (and sometimes necessary) to just put your head down and push through the work—I often feel that way during a deadline week. Perhaps only pressing matters are dealt with—delivering quality castings, ensuring employee health and safety, and finding staff—while seemingly peripheral items are pushed aside for when things calm down. 

Unfortunately, by that point, some opportunities might have passed.

According to the Reshoring Initiative IH2021 Data Report released in September, reshoring and foreign direct investment job announcements for 2021 are projected to be more than 220,000—a 38% increase over 2020 and the highest yearly rate recorded to date. Supply chain challenges have companies rethinking their sourcing, and now is the time to win these orders and keep them reshored.

This could also be a time to consider existing work and customers. Which orders are perfect fits for your operations? Which customers are more difficult than they are worth? You are busy now, but you want to set up the company to continue that way. Trimming the less optimized parts frees up capacity for the profitable work that will do more for your business in the next 5 to 10 years.

Finally, don’t drop your marketing efforts. Maintaining your brand awareness is another critical component of business development that your sales team three years from now will be thankful for. Part of that marketing is sharing your news, so don’t put off reaching out to let us at Modern Casting and Casting Source know about a new big order or expansion in the works. 

As we head toward the end of 2021, I’m energized by the busy-ness. News from foundries that sales are growing is encouraging. And while I know the industry is facing some heady challenges in terms of labor and material shortages/rising costs, the appetite for domestic manufacturing is strong. The more the industry does now to take advantage, the better positioned it will be in the future. 

I’m looking forward to seeing readers in person at CastExpo 2022 in Columbus. Ohio, April 23-22. Registration is expected to open by December. See you there!