Majority of equipment manufacturers have positive outlook for 2021


Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, equipment manufacturers have a positive outlook on business for 2021, according to a new survey conducted by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

The survey found that 88 per cent of equipment manufacturers report a positive outlook for this year. As well, 55 per cent of the respondents from leading equipment manufacturers expect sales to increase or remain stable despite the ongoing pandemic.

The online survey targeted employees of AEM member companies and includes results from more than 130 respondents, including CEOs, vice presidents, as well as sales and operations leaders.

“The equipment manufacturing industry has continued to operate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has successfully adjusted to challenges to make the equipment that builds, feeds and powers our country,” said AEM President Dennis Slater. “Equipment manufacturers have begun to turn the corner. We now need Congress and the President to pass long-overdue legislation that will invest in and modernize our nation’s infrastructure.”

Although optimistic about the year ahead, the survey’s respondents see the pandemic and the ability to ensure employees are safe as the biggest concern for the months ahead. The ability to find skilled workers for new positions, regulatory challenges, tariffs and tax code changes, internal reorganization and supply chain disruptions were also top concerns for manufacturers.  

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As for sales, about 19 per cent of manufacturers said sales have increased, while 36 per cent said sales are stable, citing several reasons, including:

  • Strong pipeline of orders.
  • Increase in customer demand.
  • Robust economic rebound.
  • Essential status of customers.
  • Level playing field due to no travel.

About 45 per cent of respondents said their sales have decreased in the wake of COVID-19, due to:

  • Supply chain disruptions.
  • Reduced demand for new products.
  • Limited international sales due to travel restrictions.
  • Inability to meet with dealers and customers.
  • Delayed or cancelled government projects.

COVID-19’s lasting impact

The survey also found that one in eight respondents believe COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on how they work.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) said that trade shows will be different (including virtual options) following the COVID-19 pandemic, while a quarter said trade shows will remain the same.

As well, 80 per cent of survey respondents believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact as remote work gains popularity, and in-person meetings are reduced in favour of online communication and commerce.

Nearly half of respondents (45 per cent) reported their productivity increased during the pandemic, while 36 per cent said their efficiency decreased.

One in five respondents said the pandemic caused them to consider retiring early, while 80 per cent said the global health crisis has not impacted their retirement plans.

AEM is the North America-based international trade group representing off-road equipment manufacturers and suppliers with more than 1,000 companies and more than 200 product lines in the agriculture and construction-related industry sectors worldwide.