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Manufacturers poised to invest

70% look to expand in state survey

Indiana’s manufacturing recovery is gaining traction, according to survey results released Thursday.

More than 70 percent of participants in the 2012 Indiana Manufacturing Survey: “Halftime” for Indiana Manufacturing reported plans to invest in their operations.

And 79 percent described their financial performance in 2010-11 as either healthy or stable, a significant improvement from the previous year’s poll, when the combined total was 53 percent.

Remaining companies chose “challenged” to describe their financial states in the surveys: 21 percent in 2010-11 versus 47 percent in 2009-10.

This is the sixth year researchers have conducted the survey in conjunction with faculty from Indiana University’s Kelly School of Business.

The report is sponsored by Katz, Sapper & Miller, an Indianapolis accounting firm.

More than 100 businesses participated in the online survey, which was conducted in late summer and early fall, a spokeswoman said. Surveys were distributed to manufacturers by the Indiana Manufacturers Association; Katz, Sapper & Miller; and Conexus Indiana, the state’s manufacturing and logistics initiative.

Researchers listed three ways manufacturers’ strategies are changing in the post-recession economy. The survey found companies are offering higher quality at lower prices, are integrating more advanced technology in their processes and are collaborating with customers and suppliers.

“While most Indiana manufacturers have survived the recent recession, to compete going forward, companies still need to focus on the value that their products provide customers in terms of quality and price,” the report states.

The authors dubbed the survey period “halftime” because it follows periods of robust demand and recession.

They hope manufacturers will adopt strategic visions as they ramp up production to pre-recession levels.

At a glance

Some details about participants in the 2012 Manufacturing Survey include:
•87 percent are privately owned companies; 13 percent are publicly traded
•Average number of employees is 306, while the largest employer has 8,000
•19 percent are in the automotive industry, 19 percent in industrial equipment, 10 percent in aerospace and defense, 6 percent in health care, among others

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