Industry Pulse:

Manufacturing & Distribution VOL 3 2021 Results
The Sikich Industry Pulse surveys manufacturing and distribution executives from across the nation multiple times throughout the year, highlighting and responding to top trends as they arise. The Pulse results provide readers with real-time competitive intel to adjust and apply to their business strategies.
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As manufacturing leaders prepare for year-end, results from the third volume of Sikich’s M&D Industry Pulse survey can be a helpful benchmarking tool. In September, manufacturers and distributors weighed in to uncover industry trends and challenges. Optimism seemed to wain with continued workforce and supply chain headaches. Though, the industry’s resilience still shines through. Here are some high points:

Over half of the respondents said they purchased or are interested in purchasing bots to use in robotic process automation (RPA). As leaders work to combat the labor shortage, automation is a strategic solution for manufacturing businesses. We will continue to see innovation in the industry to achieve efficiencies and reduce manual, tedious tasks.

Speaking of the labor shortage, it will come as good news that only 9% of respondents experienced greater than 30% turnover in 2021. Competitive wages and benefits are critical during a tight labor market and can make a significant difference in employee retention.

We also collected data on supply chain interruptions, the vaccine and more. To learn more about this data and related insights, continue reading the Sikich Industry Pulse results.

Jerry Murphy, CPA, CMA, CGMA, Partner-in-Charge
Manufacturing & Distribution Services

Volume 3 Results

Executive optimism dips

When considering their business prospects over the next six months, only 71% of manufacturing and distribution executives rated their optimism a seven or higher on a scale of one to 10, compared to more than 80% in June.

Level of Optimism (1 = not optimistic at all, 10 = extremely optimistic)

Around half of economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal in October cited “supply-chain bottlenecks as the biggest threat to growth in the next 12 to 18 months, while nearly one-fifth pointed to labor shortages.”

executives top three supply chain concerns in the next six months are:


project lead time

material costs

State of the Manufacturing Workforce

84% of businesses experienced plant floor employee turnover in 2021

9% saw greater than 30% turnover, while the majority (42%) experienced between 1-10%.


of manufacturers reported their office staff does not work remotely at all

Vaccination Rates Prior to Looming
OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard
Less than 20%




Greater than 80%


Is automation the answer?

According to UiPath, “Robotic process automation (RPA) is a software technology that makes it easy to build, deploy, and manage software robots that emulate humans actions interacting with digital systems and software.” 

Over half of respondents said they purchased or are interested in purchasing bots to use in robotic process automation (RPA).

percentage of data stored in tHE cloud
M&A Activity Activity not slowing down

In June, 25% of Pulse respondents said they were considering purchasing a competitor in the next twelve months. And that’s only a portion of the buyer pool looking to invest in the industry.

about half of manufacturers surveyed lack confidence
in the process of a potential sale of their business
"Having trusted providers, a transition plan, and an idea of what your business is worth well before you consider selling a portion or all of your business ensures you get the results best for your legacy.”
– Cheryl aschenbrener, Transaction Advisory Services NAtional Leader
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M&D Industry Pulse Media Coverage

Sikich’s latest M&D Pulse survey results were featured in a number of media publications. In Q3 2023, Sikich surveyed more than 100 manufacturing and distribution executives on their optimism, artificial

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