One year into pandemic, manufacturers and distributors are optimistic, report finds

CHICAGO — April 28, 2021 — Nearly three quarters of manufacturers and distributors are optimistic about their business prospects in the next six months, according to a new industry report from Sikich. Seventy-two percent of respondents ranked their level of optimism at a seven or higher, on a scale of one to 10, in Sikich’s Industry Pulse: Manufacturing and Distribution. The survey also found that more than half of manufacturers and distributors are looking to expand their workforce in the next six months.

“As the world slowly opens back up, manufacturers have a lot to look forward to,” said Jerry Murphy, partner-in-charge of Sikich’s manufacturing and distribution team. “This past year has showcased the resilience of the manufacturing industry. From quickly implementing safety protocols in their facilities to maintaining production in a fast-changing environment, manufacturers impressively adapted throughout the past year. Having navigated a tumultuous 2020, the industry appears primed for growth.”

The report also identified challenges manufacturers and distributors will face in the coming months:

  • While 56% of survey respondents plan to grow their workforces, only 5% are completely confident in their ability to obtain the talent required.
  • Cybersecurity breaches still run rampant. More than half of manufacturers and distributors experienced at least two information security events in the past 12 months. The most common cybersecurity incidents include email phishing scams (81%), unemployment fraud (42%), and ransomware (9%).
  • More than a quarter of survey respondents (28%) are only slightly or somewhat confident in using their existing data to make business decisions, emphasizing a need for improved data quality.

“Even with the high optimism index, there is still work to be done,” adds Murphy. “The competition for talent is at an all-time high, and lack of data confidence coupled with data security vulnerabilities persist across the industry. Manufacturers of all sizes must look to proactively address these issues to keep up with consumer demands.”

Sikich surveys manufacturers and distributors multiple times throughout the year on a range of business topics to create industry benchmark data. For the first Industry Pulse report of 2021, Sikich surveyed more than 120 executives from manufacturing and distribution companies across sectors including industrial equipment, wholesale and distribution, metal fabrication, food and beverage, apparel, footwear and textiles, and transportation.

About Sikich LLP

Sikich LLP is a global company specializing in technology-enabled professional services. With more than 1,000 employees, Sikich draws on a diverse portfolio of technology solutions to deliver transformative digital strategies and ranks as one of the largest CPA firms in the United States. From corporations and not-for-profits to state and local governments, Sikich clients utilize a broad spectrum of services* and products to help them improve performance and achieve long-term, strategic goals.

*Securities offered through Sikich Corporate Finance LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.  Investment advisory services offered through Sikich Financial, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor.


This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. In addition, this publication may contain certain content generated by an artificial intelligence (AI) language model. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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