On Friday, January 17 over 140 manufacturing stakeholders attended RMI’s “Future of Maryland Manufacturing in 2020” event at PSA Insurance and Financial Services’ headquarters in Hunt Valley. They came to hear from Anirban Basu, CEO of the Sage Policy Group and a panel of manufacturing executives from Jamison Doors, Lion Brothers and Hamilton Associations. People came as far away as Frederick, Washington, Prince Georges, Kent and Caroline Counties to attend.
Basu delivered his usual engaging performance, spiced-up with much levity, as he provided his outlook for Maryland manufacturing and the U.S. economy. He hit on a lot of key points in terms of the U.S. economy being strong, employment at record lows, nominal inflation and continued consumer spending as some of the indicators of a continued positive U.S. economic outlook. He also provided some cautionary guidance.
Basu did caution that while the economy looks strong, corporate profits have plateaued as many companies are not investing their businesses but actually buying back shares and taking out record corporate debt. He cited the corporate debt, the national debt and personal debt being at all time highs as warning signs for the future, recommending it would be good to raise cash while times are good in preparation for a downturn.
As for Maryland’s manufacturing outlook, Basu pointed out that manufacturing employment has stayed positive now for most of the past 5 years after a long period of decline. Maryland manufacturers have become leaner and more niche players to stay globally competitive. Basu stressed that manufacturing is still a great opportunity for those seeking to join the middle class. He noted that Maryland manufacturing employees on average are earning more than $28 an hour versus the service sector in retail where earners often earn around $15 an hour. He also pointed out that Maryland’s dependence on the federal procurement largess continues to spur manufacturing growth, particularly in the defense and electronics sectors.
The audience also heard from a panel of medium-sized manufacturing companies who gave their own outlook for their company’s growth prospects. Each company is engaged in different growth phases and provided unique perspectives accordingly.
- John Williams, CEO of Jamison Doors sited the strong growth his company has been enjoying due to the current Administration’s pro business policies.
- Douglas Hamilton, CEO of Hamilton Associates, a private family business holding company for three distinct business segments, discussed how he is transforming each company to better compete globally. He says that while the company always manages cash conservatively to be prepared for a downturn, management is continuing to make growth and infrastructure investments in 2020.
- Finally, the audience heard from Suzy Ganz, CEO of Lion Brothers who discussed how they transformed their turn-of-the-century embroidery company into a digital technology and innovation-led company in apparel identity, which has grown at a 40% year- on- year growth rate for the past three years. She also announced their recent establishment of their second micro manufacturing facility in Owings Mills.
If you want to view the recorded presentations, RMI will be posting the video from the event shortly. Meanwhile, Click here to view Anirban Basu’s presentation slides.