Industry Outlook 2005
In the boat-building portion, at least, of Florida's manufacturing sector, 2005 looks stellar. "We had a record-breaking Fort Lauderdale boat show," says Frank Herhold, executive director of the Marine Industries Association of South Florida. "This really sets the tone for the fall, winter and spring season."
Other manufacturing segments are in accord. "We're expecting a great, fantastic '05," says Rod Hershberger, president of Nokomis-based window maker PGT Industries. The hurricanes delayed orders. PGT also lost the productivity of the 843 of its 1,600 Florida employees who lived in the Charley-affected area and spent "tremendous" overtime on those who did make it in. Result: 15% revenue growth in 2004 rather than the 18% to 20% he expected, and flat to slight profit growth. But as events proved the worth of his impact-resistant windows, he expects 20% revenue growth in 2005.
The latest National Association of Manufacturers survey shows eight of 10 members have a positive outlook. That's great, Florida manufacturers say, but they still will press for tax breaks from the state, arguing their high-wage jobs justify it. The average 2003 Florida manufacturing wage was $40,818, according to Enterprise Florida. Meanwhile, if only all the Florida economy looked as promising as boating. Says Skip Braver, CEO of boat builder Cigarette Racing Team, "We are very bullish on the powerboat market right now."
2005 Forecast: "Generally speaking, the manufacturing environment in Florida relative to other states is pretty good," says Jabil Circuit CEO Tim Main. "The costs have been reasonable. The workforce is stable. The only real concern we've had is the continuing escalation of healthcare costs. We've actually started to expand our workforce again, albeit at a modest pace. We are really benefiting from the trend to outsource electronics manufacturing. Things are growing again."