As the holidays are officially upon us, and 2013 comes to a close, we’d like to wish all of our customers a very happy and healthy season, and a wonderful new year. We realize that 2013 was a challenge for many, and we hope 2014 sees an economic upturn.

Looking back on 2013, it was a bit of a rollercoaster for many manufacturers, with many unable, at the time, to look ahead and know what to predict. Each state, and the country as a whole, faced some economic challenges, which often put the burden on customers and manufacturers alike, no matter what function a vendor or company served. However, it could have been a lot worse, and we all held our own and came out stronger—which is definitely a positive.

For us, 2013 brought new customers, whom we are very pleased and grateful to have. While ironically, companies gaining new clients often meant others losing them or going out of business, the upside is that less business is going offshore, and more business is staying in this country.

Some challenges included fuel prices rising, and in turn, freight and shipping costs hitting all time highs, but that meant many started looking locally for their needs. Costs rose and delivery times lengthened in China, making more people look closer to home. So this actually worked in favor of U.S. manufacturing, showing that with every negative action, there can be a positive reaction. Therefore, the U.S. could continue to see stronger and better local manufacturing and a continued industry revival. Now we are seeing that there is more work and business, but not always enough people to fill the positions, and this is something the industry must work on in the near future.

Other changes being seen are in the fluctuation of oil, steel, and additive prices—as well as foreign trade and transportation—, which affects local businesses. Associated surcharges and price variations affect us all, and influence the final costs of products. But we can try our best to look ahead and make accurate cost projections.

In the end, we can say that everyone in the U.S. who produces, assembles, and creates products has been affected by the same issues, and therefore, we all understand and empathize with each other’s challenges. It is survival of the fittest—but American manufacturing is, indeed, strong, and we can look forward to rebuilding and growing together in the New Year.

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