Buoyed by solid survey results, researchers are describing Indianas manufacturing sector as in the midst of a rebirth.
Healthy or stable are the way almost 80 percent of respondents described their businesses for the past two annual surveys. The poll is in its seventh year.
Katz, Sapper & Miller LLP, an Indianapolis certified accounting firm, reported the results Wednesday. The CPA firm developed the survey with the IU Kelley School of Business at Indianapolis, Conexus Indiana and the Indiana Manufacturers Association.
The striking similarity between 2013 and 2012 results indicate sustained momentum for the sector, the reports authors wrote. The growth is convincing enough to prompt them to subtitle this years report: Manufacturings Renaissance.
Just three years ago, almost half of survey participants chose challenged to describe their businesses. That number is now down to 21 percent.
More than 70 percent of the states manufacturers are investing in their businesses, including adding jobs, this year. Less than 5 percent are in wholesale cost-cutting mode, the survey found.
Even so, the study found plenty of uncertainty among manufacturing officials about tax rates, health care costs and reporting requirements.
Some financial results could have been stronger, too.
Overseas sales doubled in one year, but the total is still a modest 4 percent of total sales. Also, revenues increased by 16 percent on average, which is good news.
But profit margins grew by a more modest 10 percent during the year. Thats a 33 percent decline from earnings growth of 15 percent reported in the previous years survey.
Len Feddema, president and co-owner of Haven Manufacturing Indiana Inc., has noticed some of that fluctuation in demand from the manufacturers that his company supplies.
Ossian-based Haven makes parts for the orthopedic, health care, aerospace and transportation industries. Products include gears and machine parts for hospital beds.
Business is picking up, but it is in pockets, Feddema said. Were optimistic about the future. Were investing in the operation.
The entrepreneur, who employs about 80, plans to spend about $250,000 on equipment this year. Overall, the companys sales are up about 20 percent, he said.
Jennifer Moore, spokeswoman for Katz, Sapper & Miller, said 125 companies participated in the online manufacturing survey in the spring and summer.
Of those, 93 percent are privately owned. The average workforce was 261 full-time employees. The largest was 10,000.