IndustryWeek asked manufacturing executives what keeps them up at night. The answers were plentiful, varied and passionate. Here's a small sample:
- American consumer ignorance, i.e. price is the only thing that matters (Wal-Mart shoppers)
- The perpetual gridlock in Washington. Politicians seem to be more interested in winning a seat rather than representing their constituents. Our polarized culture is making us very dysfunctional as a nation.
- Erosion of the middle class within the U.S. Pay for executives is out of proportion to labor and middle management.
- The weak fiscal situation with the United States government. Trillion dollar annual deficits on top of $16 trillion in debt is a fiscal mountain that is a massive drag on everything, and it is going to collapse our economic system and ruin the American dream for future generations. The inability of the U.S. government to deal with this will certainly lead to economic collapse like we've never experienced before. There are too many anti-capitalist forces at work in the U.S. intentionally trying to take the U.S. down this path.
- Having enough business in this economy to keep our plant open. We have lost many good, long-term customers. Raw material prices and freight costs have also escalated.
- The low costs of Asian products have made it difficult to remain competitive in the marketplace. It has forced us to buy products we used to make, so we've become more of a re-packager than a manufacturer.
- Lack of leadership in solving critical issues relating to manufacturing. Educational institutions not understanding that manufacturing is high-tech, and that it is vital to the future of America.
- Market uncertainty causing forecasting to be a bad joke. The challenge is how to maintain the highest level of flexibility so we can thrive regardless of what the market does. That means actively planning to cut jobs for the 50% likelihood of the market dropping further.