This year, just about two-thirds (64 percent) of those responding to our 2008 Corporate Survey are with manufacturing firms (Figure 1). Some 45 percent are the chief executives of their firms, with another 29 percent being highly ranked corporate officers (Figure 2). Similar proportions of the respondents are involved in their companies' final location decision (49 percent) or preliminary location decision (30 percent) (Figure 3).
About a quarter of the respondents' companies operate just one domestic facility. However, 43 percent operate five or more domestic facilities, and more than half of those with foreign operations run more than five foreign operations (Figure 4). Thirty percent of these firms employ 1,000 or more people in total, but the majority (45 percent) of the respondent companies are mid-size in terms of work force, with between 100 and 499 employees (Figure 5).
When asked about their facilities activity in the past 12 months, 58 percent of the respondents to our 2008 Corporate Survey said their number of facilities had not changed over that period (5 percent fewer than reported by the respondents to our 2007 Corporate Survey), while 30 percent had actually increased their number of facilities in that 12-month window (again, 5 percent fewer than reported increasing their number of facilities in last year's survey) (Figure 6). Again, take note that this survey was conducted in late August 2008 so the 12 month-period being referred to is August 2007-August 2008, before the current onslaught of economic woes.
Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of those reporting that they had increased their number facilities said these additions were in response to increased sales/production, and 60 percent said they needed to serve new markets. All of the mere 12 percent of respondents reporting that they had decreased their number of facilities during the 12 months prior to taking the survey were consolidating existing operations, while about half (56 percent) said they needed to lower operating and/or labor costs (Figures 7 and 8). Only 35 percent of those reporting they had decreased their number of facilities last year cited that need.
When asked about how the downturn in the U.S. economy (up until late summer 2008) had affected their facility plans, just 24 percent of the respondents said their new facility plans had been put on hold, while 22 percent said they were still planning to open new facilities; however, 15 percent actually planned to close or consolidate facilities. In response to this question, only 13 percent of the respondents said they were still planning to increase hiring, and nearly a fifth planned to reduce current employment and/or defer hiring plans (Figure 9).
Now that we have a profile of these respondents and their current facility status, let's find out more about their location and expansion plans and priorities for the years ahead.