Strong Revenues and Hiring for Remainder of 2015 among Midsized Industrial U.S. Manufacturers

Manufacturers continue to hire as 61 percent of members went into 2015 planning to add new employees

ChicagoSept. 23, 2015Prime Advantage, a buying consortium for midsized manufacturers, announced the findings of its 14th edition of the Purchasing and Manufacturing Survey, revealing the financial projections and top procurement insights of more than 750 U.S. manufacturing companies. The results show continued optimism about revenues and employment, as well as increasing demand for flexibility and responsiveness in supply chains. Confidence in growing revenues extends into 2016, according to the study.

Summary of Findings

  • About 80 percent of respondents expect to be at or above previous year's revenues, and 83 percent anticipate maintaining or increasing revenue performance in 2016.
  • Approximately 84 percent of the buying group’s members are prioritizing indirect spend to control costs.
  • Hiring is strong, as 61 percent of members planned to hire new employees in 2015.
  • A lack of qualified workers remains the top threat to manufacturing growth among members for the second consecutive year, with 46 percent voicing this concern, down from 53 percent in 2014.
  • The three most desired traits for potential procurement hires are: analytical skills, negotiation expertise and a strong acumen for relationship management.

Revenues Look to Remain Strong for the Rest of 2015

After several consecutive years of climbing revenues, some manufacturing companies are starting to temper expectations. Around 80 percent of respondents expect to be at or above the previous year's revenues. Although this remains a significant portion, it is the lowest percentage of optimists in this category since 2010. With demand decreasing for some members, 27 percent reported that they are currently performing below forecast for 2015. This slowdown may be temporary, as 83 percent of members expect to either maintain or increase revenue performance in 2016. Respondents currently enjoying revenue upswings largely credit new product lines and new customers for the growth.

Capital Expenditures Are Holding Steady

Manufacturers remain optimistic about investment in their operations as 87 percent of respondents are either meeting or exceeding capital expenditure plans for 2015, with 73 percent expecting current trends to continue throughout the remainder of the year.

Cost Pressures Threaten the Bottom Line

Once again, raw materials top the list of leading cost pressures for procurement professionals. Indirect materials and supplies, as well as component parts pricing, were also significant margin-threatening factors for manufacturers this year.

Employment Outlook Is Promising

Manufacturers continue to hire as 61 percent of members went into 2015 planning to add new employees, with 79 percent of those having already fulfilled this mission. This positive trend looks to continue for the remainder of the year, as no respondents are expecting layoffs and 47 percent expect to bring on additional employees. This result is consistent with the PricewaterhouseCoopers Manufacturing Barometer's findings.

“The survey results are extremely encouraging. The majority of our members continue to achieve strong revenues and growth, even after concluding a string of very prosperous years,” said Louise O’Sullivan, founder, president and CEO of Prime Advantage. “Our members are developing new products to increase demand like never before and the power of our group intensifies every single year."


Each year, using an online survey platform, Prime Advantage surveys a cross section of purchasing executives and professionals from its member companies. The latest survey data was collected in July 2015 from representatives of Prime Advantage member companies in durable goods manufacturing, with annual revenues ranging between $10 million and $4 billion, of which the majority range between $20 million and $500 million.

The survey had 77 supply chain professionals participate. They represent U.S.-based manufacturers in more than 25 different industries, including commercial food service equipment, packaging, truck and trailer, material handling, food processing and construction equipment. Prime Advantage polled its membership for their impressions of current economic conditions since February 2008. To request a copy of the complete report, please go to

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