Manufacturing Roundtable Recap: Here’s What Local Leaders are Saying

Apr 23, 2021


Gilman Partners hosted a virtual roundtable with manufacturing operations leaders throughout the region to talk about how business has started so far in 2021, how they handled the challenges of 2020, and what they anticipate for the remainder of the year. Here were some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

  • Several of the participants experienced record revenue and/or growth in 2020 and have seen similar trends in the beginning 2021. Those with customers in industries significantly impacted by the pandemic saw less success in 2020 and took steps toward diversifying their product/service offerings and customer base. Like many others in the manufacturing industry, several in today’s roundtable experienced — and are still dealing with — freight and supply chain disruptions.  
  • A consistent trend of today’s conversation was the challenge of finding top talent. One leader shared, “It is really hard to find people. It is our principle challenge. We are having a really hard time finding the types of talent that fit at our level.”
  • Companies are investing more in technology translation and tech leaders who understand business goals and strategies.One manufacturing leader shared, “We are swimming in data, but it’s difficult to find actionable information. Yes, we need developers and IT, but we also need business-thinking translators so we can turn our data into actionable insights.”
  • In the past, IT has often been viewed as an in-house service that keeps machines and technology running day to day. What organizations need now more than ever are leaders who are able to build bridges between technology and the organization’s business objectives.
  • Another leader shared, “Bringing in talent is a challenge, but the way we think about talent has also shifted.” Organizations are looking for employees who not only understand technology, AI tools, and analytics, but also those with critical thinking skills and a strong operations background.
  • The past year has drastically changed the geography of talent search and the openness to remote work. Some organizations might need to consider paying relocation fees to bring talent from outside technology hubs into our region. Before the pandemic, many were hesitant to hire remote workers, but after seeing the success their teams have had with remote work in the past 14 months, they are now starting to tap into remote talent.
  • Several noted they look forward to getting back out into field to rebuild relationships with clients and customers as comfort levels with face-to-face meetings grow.

Overall, the manufacturing leaders have a positive outlook for the remainder of 2021. Each of their organizations made technology and automation investments in the past year that will allow them to be more efficient and grow in the coming years.