At its inaugural get-together last Tuesday, participants in the Wisconsin Converting Technology Leadership group heard from several speakers – all touting the expected growth in business, plant modernization (and continued worker skills shortage) ahead in 2020. Meeting at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, attendees showed their pride for The Converting Corridor – the area from Green Bay to Milwaukee whose manufacturing is strong in substrate making, coating, printing and downstream value-added converting.
In summary, Wisconsin converters are increasingly seamless and automated in their operations; are promoting regional supply-chain efficiencies; and installing faster, more energy-efficient equipment that allows rapid startup, produces less waste and provides for fast changeovers. In short, companies all over the region are evaluating emerging technologies to grow their businesses even further.
Ann Franz of the New Manufacturing Alliance offered results from the group’s 10th annual Northeast Wisconsin Manufacturing Vitality Index – a survey of companies with $3 million+ in sales and 25+ employees. Conducted by UW-Oshkosh, the survey drew 108 respondents and has a 95% confidence level.
Some of the positive trends ahead:
- Sixty-four percent of manufacturers expect their companies’ financial health to be good in the next 6-12 months, with another 34% seeing excellent health.
- More than 51% reported increased sales in 2018, and over 68% foresee further increased sales in 2020, and six out of 10 expect to gain market share.
- When it comes to capital investment, 32% plan expansions next year, and 68% are looking at plant modernization in various forms.
- Forty-six percent anticipate hiring new personnel in Q1 2020, and 35% of manufacturers plan to hire in each of the remaining three quarters.
On the somewhat-downside:
- Three out of four companies expect to keep having difficulty finding skilled workers next year. This is down slightly from 88% in 2019 and 90% in 2018.
- “Employee referrals” and “external job sites (like Indeed)” were respondents’ two most successful talent-recruitment tactics this year.
Members of the Wisconsin Converting Technology Leadership team include American Custom Converting, Biax-Fiberfilm / 5KFibres, Contract Converting, Focus on Energy, Fox Converting, Legacy Flexo, Resource One, Sellars Nonwovens, The New North and Top Brass, Inc.
For more information on future meetings, contact Susan@SusanStansbury.com
My Thoughts: I never miss an opportunity to be part of these kinds of meetings, especially at FVTC. The Bordini Center features the latest technology to teach R2R wide- and narrow-web flexographic printing, prepress operations, and sheetfed corrugated flexo printing & in-line rotary diecutting. Partnerships with industry and professional associations help businesses and individual students. All of the equipment is available for companies to do pilot testing, and instructors are ready to come to you to teach seminars and full courses at your own plant.
Can’t find enough skilled workers? They may already be working for you and need only the right training easily available at FVTC and other schools nationwide.