Equipment manufacturers report positive outlook for 2021 in new survey

COVID-19 pandemic and keeping employees safe and on the job remain top concerns for manufacturers

March 24, 2021 / 2 minute read
construction equipment

A clear majority (88%) of equipment manufacturers throughout the industry report a positive outlook for 2021, according to a new survey released by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

More than half (55%) of the respondents from leading equipment manufacturers expect sales to increase or remain stable despite the ongoing impact of the global pandemic. The online survey was targeted to employees of AEM member companies and includes results from more than 130 respondents, including CEOs, vice presidents, and sales and operations leaders, among others.

“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,” AEM President Dennis Slater said in a statement. “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.”

Looking at the biggest challenges facing company executives and the equipment manufacturing industry as a whole in 2021, respondents indicated that the lingering COVID-19 pandemic and keeping employees safe and on the job remain the top concerns, followed by finding skilled workers for new jobs being created.

Turning to how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing the workplace, one in eight respondents said that it will have a lasting impact on how they work. Face-to-face meetings with colleagues and work travel are the top two activities they look forward to in 2021.

One in five (19%) said that sales are up while one in three (36%) indicated that sales are stable, citing the following reasons:

  • Strong pipeline of orders
  • Increase in customer demand
  • Robust economic rebound
  • Essential status of customers (including construction workers and farmers)
  • Level playing field due to no travel

Almost half of respondents (45%) said that sales are down as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, citing the following reasons:

  • 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 projects at the state and local levels

The biggest challenges for 2021 are (responses ranked):

  • COVID-19 pandemic and employee safety
  • Lack of talent/workforce challenges
  • Regulatory challenges
  • Tariffs and modifications to tax code
  • Internal reorganizations
  • Supply chain disruptions, price of inputs, reduced demand

More information on the survey results can be found on the AEM website.

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SOURCE: Association of Equipment Manufacturers

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