For the last year, I’ve been dreaming about the places where I’ll go and the things I’ll do when the pandemic is over. So once I was fully vaccinated, where did I first brave the crowds? The Mall of America.
Trust me, this was not on my bucket list—I was there so that my daughter could attend a job fair. As the in-person retail economy opens up, the mall needs workers. Lots of them. From what I could see that afternoon, the late-pandemic economy is clipping along. (And if an afternoon at a mall sounds miserable to you, imagine an afternoon at a mall doing five job interviews.)
Labor challenges are one of the perennial issues facing businesses in the industrial fabrics industry. In fact, the need for skilled labor was both the top pre-pandemic and current challenge identified in IFAI’s 2021 State of the Industry report, a summary of which appears in this issue.
IFAI has produced this annual report for years, but with the pandemic affecting everything from global supply chains to where, when and how companies operate day-to-day, the information in this report is more valuable than ever. At the request of IFAI members, this year’s report takes a different approach than past reports. Rather than breaking down the industry by market and emphasizing financial metrics, the report provides a snapshot of industry composition, identifying crossovers and connections along with manufacturing trends and future outlook. What do other companies with your skill set produce? How many markets does a typical company in this industry serve? Where are the growth opportunities? The report offers all sorts of insights that can help you see where you fit in the industry today and where you could lead your company in the future.
I’m writing this a few days before my daughter graduates high school, and I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t receive at least one copy of Dr. Seuss’s “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” as a gift. I’ll warn you right now that the State of the Industry report doesn’t entertain with Seuss’s rhyme and whimsy. But it may provide a similar level of inspiration—and illuminate a place or two where you and your company can go and grow.