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A few observations... It has been refreshing the past few weeks to attend annual meetings of several distribution associations and experience increased attendance numbers and some positive sales reports. There are survivors and thrivers who made some key changes to their businesses. Some of these thrivers attribute sales increases year-to-date of 10-20 percent to good fortune and luck in a strong customer base; they are being modest. They are having a great year.
The National Association of Manufacturers is on the lecture circuit to kick off an awareness campaign at every level of government on the critical impact manufacturing has on our economy. People are listening. That's good.
China is not the root of all U.S. economic problems. That oversimplification of China's rising has only hindered finding near-term solutions for kick-starting our domestic growth. Real efforts, including the NAM awareness campaign, help to get the playing field leveled; artificial market barriers don't. It won't happen quickly. More discussions now include the potential China and other international markets hold long-term, as this country historically experienced with other emerging markets.
None of these observations is meant to discount the truly difficult challenges distributors in certain markets and customer segments are still facing today. But after three years of an industrial winter in this country, there are some signs of spring starting to emerge.