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New year, new challenges and opportunities

Editorial | January 1, 2023 | By: Tim Goral

At IFAI Expo 2022, noted economist Dr. Elliot Eisenberg gave a good news/bad news picture of the economy.  “We’re not in a recession yet,” he said, “but we’re going to get there.”

With stimulus funds depleted, discretionary spending is also drying up. That’s a concern for every business owner. In the CONNECT by ATA online member forum, we asked readers to share their outlook for the year ahead. 

“A concern that I have is that the expendable money is gone, and the market is down,” Michele Quadri Butterfield, owner of Al’s Awning Shop, in Erie, Pa., told us. “Consumers will be more cautious about spending. Our market is usually not considered a necessity.”

For some, like Bev Kennedy, owner of Bev’s Canvas Covers in Waterford, Mich., diversification was the key to weathering a lull in business.

“During COVID we were deemed ‘essential’ because we did work for local fire departments on their hose bed and equipment covers, also did work for the companies that kept the gas pumps running and for aerospace companies which were classified as defense,” she wrote. “So, we diversified out of necessity. We didn’t lose much business, but we lost employees who didn’t want to work when the government was paying them more to stay home.”

Diversification was also on the mind of Bud Weisbart, vice president and co-owner of AR Tech, in Fontana, Calif. 

“I expect to see the growth we are currently experiencing to continue and even extend further as we expand our abilities to meet the demands for our capabilities in meeting market needs,” wrote Weisbart. But he said the industry can do much more to extend its members’ talents to diversify and grow through that diversification. “I see members of our industry often putting themselves in silos from which they are reluctant to emerge, despite their talents to do so,” he wrote.

What’s your take on the year ahead? Do you think you’ll have business as usual? Is diversification in the cards? Write to me
at and let me know.

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