Fall 2004 Moldmaking Business Forecast

Results from the AMBA's latest business forecast survey indicates mold builders are holding their own.

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The results from the Fall 2004 Business Forecast Survey, released by the American Mold Builders Association (Roselle, IL) indicates that most member mold manufacturing companies are holding their own as business continues to be good for 44 percent of the 120 respondent companies. That's down about 7 percent from the previous summer forecast survey results.

Respondents reporting that business is "Excellent" fell 1 percent to 13 percent from 14 percent in the summer survey. Business is "Fair" for 34 percent of the respondents, an increase from 27 percent in the summer survey, and "Poor" for 9 percent, also up slightly from 6 percent in the previous survey. For the first time in several years, no one reported that business is "Bad."

Projections for the next three months (the last quarter of the year) show that the majority of respondents (50 percent) expect business to remain the same. Another 37 percent expect business to increase moderately. Only 4 percent expect a substantial increase in business, and 0.8 percent expect business to decrease substantially. In talking with AMBA member companies, many report an extremely busy summer with things dropping off slightlyÑbut generally holding steady—heading into the last quarter of 2004, something the survey seems to substantiate.

Comparing their company's current level of business with that of three months ago, 36 percent of the respondents say quoting is up; 36 percent report shipments are up; 35 percent report an increase in backlog; 21 percent report higher profits; and 24 percent say employment is up. Most of the respondents are in the middle, saying that all of those markers remain the same as three months ago.

The average work week is 47 for shop employees, and 43 for design and engineering employees. The average current number of shop employees is 22. The average current number of design and engineering employees is four.

Generally, AMBA member companies continue to keep their guard up, and the competitive issues have not gone away. However, the overall strength in the U.S. economy as it continues to recover and OEMs increase inventories is showing up in the plastics industry, resulting in a more even workload for mold manufacturers.