Ready for 2012

By Mike D'Alexander

As publisher of Modern Metals and FFJournal, I spend a lot of time traveling throughout the country, meeting with service centers, fabricators and OEMs.

January 2012- As publisher of Modern Metals and FFJournal, I spend a lot of time traveling throughout the country, meeting with service centers, fabricators and OEMs. As we close out 2011, the overall message from company executives has been the year was much improved for their businesses—especially compared to 2009 and 2010. Although many of them haven’t reached pre-recession levels, they have seen less market volatility and increasing momentum in orders.

Reflecting the improvements in the industry, the recent 2011 Fabtech show posted record numbers with more than 1,300 exhibitors and 35,457 attendees from more than 80 countries. Almost everyone I spoke with during the show’s four days indicated they were fairly optimistic about 2012 and were excited about feedback from potential buyers walking the floor.

In addition, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation’s December 2011 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry reported overall confidence in the equipment finance market was 57.2, a “nominal decrease from the November index of 57.4, indicating steadying optimism about business activity despite ongoing concerns about the global economic situation.”

In my travels, what I hear is very different than what the national news media reports. As a member of the media, I understand negative news sells and it’s easy to get caught up in negativity. However, the national news only provides broad coverage of the economy, while trade publications like Modern Metals have a more accurate and informed industry point of view. It’s important for us to report from our readers’ perspective. This can be accomplished best by meeting with and engaging our readers and listening to what they say.

To that end, we’re proud to publish the 10th edition of Modern Metals’ Annual Consuming Industries Survey. Respondents to the survey, although optimistic about their own businesses next year, are concerned about economic and political factors beyond their control. Our readers especially are uneasy that government policies will stymie tentative economic growth, with one service center respondent to our survey commenting, “The poisoned political environment will do more to harm the economy than all other factors combined. I believe growth will continue to stagnate until post-election 2013 as a result.” Other concerns from respondents included health care, rising taxes, material prices and inventory management. To read our entire survey coverage, turn to page 20.

The current bureaucracy in Washington is not contributing to the overall growth of business, especially small businesses. Small to mid-sized businesses comprise a significant portion of the metals industry. As a small-business owner myself, I’ve learned in difficult economic times, it’s necessary to streamline and adapt to adverse conditions to keep operations running. Today, margins are leaner and employees are taking on more responsibility to help companies survive and thrive. The bottom line is successful business people are problem solvers. They have a good understanding of what needs to be done to succeed, unlike politicians who generally have little to no private sector experience. I look forward to speaking with more of our readers in the coming year. Until then, carry on, and I hope all of us have a successful, profitable 2012. MM

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