Economic Forecast: Suppliers

Suppliers Find Their Balance for 2024

By Nicole Needles

The following are responses from MHEDA suppliers across North America about what they forecast for 2024. They share their thoughts on the year ahead and the obstacles and opportunities they foresee playing important roles for both them and the broader economy.

The theme for 2024 seems to be a healthy balance of proceeding with caution when it comes to the economy and not shying away from the unknown. Navigating this delicate balance calls for a nuanced approach, one that acknowledges the intricacies of the global economic landscape. Fortunately, there are so many resources available to make this as easy as possible, including MHEDA’s network of professionals. This robust network not only serves as a place filled with collective expertise but also as a forum for exchanging insights and strategies aimed at steering businesses through the complexities of the coming year. We’ll hear from manufacturer and supplier members as they share their plans, hopes and potential setbacks for the next year.

Overall, much like the distributors, suppliers are hopeful that business sales will either remain level or even grow in 2024. At the very least, the majority of surveyees do not think a slow downturn in business is likely for them. The top factors they saw impacting next year’s projections, in order are economic uncertainty, labor shortages and inflation closely followed by the demand of automation and the election. One thing almost everyone can agree on is that the macro trends that have reared their heads in the economy this year will continue for the time being.

Some suppliers are taking this time to keep their heads down and focus on what they are already doing well rather than taking on new ventures this year. However, many have plans to continue to expand their businesses either through new locations, products, lines of business or mergers and acquisitions.

Economic uncertainty was the top concern. An additional concern that Steve Miskelley, vice president of sales at MHS Conveyor, brings up is this: “The biggest issue I see beyond economic uncertainty is the overcapacity in our industry. Even if the economy recovers sooner than planned, our industry needs to consume the excess capacity before we will see meaningful recovery and growth.” He notes that many recession-proof industries will most likely continue to fare fine next year.

The economy is interlinked with many other factors seen and unseen. One of these factors that will have an impact on the direction things go next year will be the 2024 election, Tom Haug with Meridian Leasing Corp. points out. This year is a turning point for everyone. He said, “I feel the 2024 election will have a great impact on the direction of our economic status.”

Overall, it’s important to remember that balance of proceeding with caution but not burrowing and hiding away. The industry is filled with opportunities no matter what the economy will do. The world will always need material handling. Jeremy Prichard, director of sales and marketing with TrinDocs puts it well by saying, “The future is as bright as we make it. The ability to pivot with confidence into growth areas, while competitors are frozen in fear or their past, is a competitive advantage that propels the best to be even better.”