Despite some job growth in the industry, local manufacturers have perennial concerns, a regional survey of companies found.
A survey of area manufacturers compiled by the Dayton Region Manufacturers Association (DRMA) and certified public accounting firm Clark Schaefer Hackett (CSH) will be released Oct. 24 at DRMA's Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show.
The top concerns for the approximately 200 manufacturers who responded to the survey are health care costs, pricing pressures from customers and a lack of skilled workers, said Dennis McLaughlin, shareholder in charge of CSH's Manufacturing Industry Group.
"The key to it is the top three concerns are consistent with what we got last year," McLaughlin said. It's the third year the two organizations have worked together on the survey.
It appears area manufacturers are wary of the Affordable Care Act, McLaughlin said. He believes manufacturers see it as "another form of regulation that's going to increase their costs," he said.
Another concern: Manufacturing customers want prices to be lower. That's a trend that's continued from from the Great Recession. Customers can especially pressure smaller manufacturing firms to push prices down, but it's not just small businesses experiencing that, McLaughlin said.
Finally, during the past decade or two there has been more of an emphasis on college education. Factory jobs have a reputation of being unpleasant and scarce, which has made young people less enthusiastic about the industry as a career option, McLaughlin said.
"With the way technology has grown and developed in manufacturing, what we used to think of as these factory jobs really doesn't exist to a large extent any more," McLaughlin said.
Companies are approaching the problem in different ways. But McLaughlin believes they should take a long-term view, perhaps partnering with a community college or a technical school to find qualified employees.
In Ohio, there are several initiatives designed to emphasize manufacturing and programs -- including at Sinclair Community College -- dedicated to training future workers.
Angelia Erbaugh, DRMA executive director, said this year's show will have about 130 exhibitors, which is close to "normal."
Erbaugh said highlights will include focusing on the equipment and machines attendees want to see, and on the exhibitors who sell that equipment.
And DRMA will host Harry Moser, founder of the "Reshoring Initiative," who will talk about firms that have rediscovered the benefits of domestic production.
Although the annual survey will be released in written form at the show Oct. 24, CSH also is planning a manufacturing forum Nov 1 at Sinclair Community College, where the results will be presented in detail.
If you go
What: Dayton Region Manufacturers Association 2012 Advanced Manufacturing Technology Show
When: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Oct. 24, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Oct. 25.
Where: Dayton Airport Expo Center, 3900 McCauley Drive, Vandalia.
To register: Go to www.daytonamts.com ___
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