The Manufacturers Agenda

Manufacturing by the Numbers

From the biggest -- the IndustryWeek U.S. 500 -- to the biggest that perform best -- the IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers -- our rankings reveal a strong, vibrant and dynamic U.S. manufacturing sector.

If you had any doubts about the size, strength and diversity of U.S. manufacturing, take a look at our coverage of the 2012 IndustryWeek U.S. 500. There you'll find IW's ranking, by revenue, of America's largest public manufacturers -- a who's who of companies that in 2011 generated $556.9 billion of profit, on $6.01 trillion in revenue -- an increase of 17.2% over 2010.

Not bad for an economic sector that's often cited as dead or dying.

As manufacturing has driven the economy out of the recession, fewer public policy makers dare to dismiss manufacturing as an economic force, but I don't doubt that too many continue to underestimate it. This ranking is an opportunity to showcase some of the biggest and strongest among U.S. manufacturers.

For our staff, the ranking never fails to call our attention to companies that deserve further coverage. One of the first data sorts we produce is the "big movers" list. In this issue, we feature this year's fastest-growing company, Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc., detailing the strategies that have driven its rise in the ranking -- along with some of the headwinds it faces in the year ahead. In future issues and online we'll report on other big movers, including those that endured precipitous drops in the ranking.

Companies that always catch my attention are those that made the list, but are not -- yet -- household names. In this year's top 50 alone we find Bunge Ltd. at No. 23, Hess Corp. at No. 34, and Tesoro Corp. at No. 43. Further down, there's Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. at No. 57, Baker Hughes Inc. at No. 62 and Apache Corp. at No. 66.

Also interesting is finding on the list the well-known companies that most people don't realize are manufacturers. To make the lW U.S. 500, a company must generate over 50% of revenue from manufactured goods. Making the list are 
Microsoft Corp. at No. 15, Oracle Corp. at No. 38 and News Corp. at No. 39. Further down  we find Avon Products at No. 99. and New York Times Co. at No. 333.

Of course our favorite list is the IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers, which ranks the IW U.S. 500 companies based on their financial performance in six key metrics over a three-year period. The IW 50 Best represent overall performance excellence that all companies strive to achieve.

Most useful though, would be for each of us to share this list with the doubters -- the public-policy makers and anyone who's ever said to you: "Do we even make anything in the U.S. anymore?" Oh, and remind them that the IW U.S. 500, as impressive as it is, represents only the very largest companies in a sector that in 2011 contributed over $1.83 trillion to our nation's GDP.

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