Monday, January 3, 2011

Wiping the slate clean

It’s the first week of a new year/decade, and here in New England it started bright and sunny, with the temperature above normal. Outside my office, the remainders of an unexpected blizzard a week ago are just about gone as we enjoyed almost balmy temperatures last week, melting the 12 inches of snow on the ground.

I like to wipe the slate clean and forget about last year, just as I turn the calendar page and start the year with optimism, well founded this year as business prospects are looking up and good news abounds in the manufacturing sector. The Monday Wall Street Journal was full of good news, but the item I liked the best was headlined, "Big Firms Poised To Spend Again," which opened with “Big U.S. companies have cleaned up their balance sheets and, flush with cash (my emphasis), appear open to using it in 2011 on factories (again my emphasis), stores and even hiring (me again)." It’s a long article and I encourage readers to savor it.

What could be a better way to start the year than to read about companies primed to boost manufacturing in the US? If you weren't already feeling positive about a fresh new year, this will help you change your attitude.

Many of us charged with forecasting the economy, in my case that of the industrial laser community, were cautious in their year-end reports. There was an optimistic undertone, but conservatism engendered by world events and a little residual bruising after the recession led to a cautious modest growth forecast for 2011. My number is 14%, which isn’t far off the 18.10% CAGR of the market since 1970.

My roadmap for sustaining economic growth includes modest growth rates, led by applications in the medical device, display, semiconductor, energy, and aerospace industries. A return to solid double-digit growth in marking/engraving will bolster the solid state and CO2 numbers.

Application growth in laser assist manufacturing and the buying capacity of the BRIC markets will keep industrial lasers on an upward growth curve.

So my new year optimism is grounded in the reality that the pieces are all in place for a vibrant new year/decade.

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