2008 Industry Outlook
Two bright spots: Manufacturers in aviation and biosciences are expected to buck the slow-growth trend.
Healthy dose: A Watson Pharmaceuticals manufacturing operator in Davie prepares for a production run. Pharmaceuticals are showing strong signs for the year ahead. [Photo: Heinz Kleutmeier]
While industry analysts are anticipating minimal growth in Florida manufacturing in 2008, two segments — aviation and biosciences — are expecting banner years.
Because of aging aircraft worldwide, demand for new planes and refurbishing both commercial and private jets is robust, says Greg Powell, director of investor relations for Wellington-based B/E Aerospace, a maker of cabin interior products for airlines, aircraft manufacturers and business jet owners.
|» Now that the dollar is moving back to its historical levels, we expect to see a vigorous expansion in manufacturing."
— Hank Cox, vice president of communications, National Association of Manufacturers
Vero Beach’s Piper Aircraft should benefit from the trend as well. Late last year, Indian River County commissioners signed off on $16 million in incentives — along with $20 million from the state — to keep the aircraft maker from moving.
Powell says several factors are driving the aviation market, including increased demand for private aircraft, an aging fleet of commercial carriers, more airline passengers and international orders.
“Airlines are flying fuller and have more flights,” Powell says. “We’re getting a lot of orders to retrofit first-class cabins with new interiors because that’s where the airlines make their money. We certainly expect that market to continue. We’re doing $2 billion in revenue next year, up from $1.6 billion this year.”
Asia and the Middle East, Powell says, are two areas that are “coming on strong” with orders.
June Wolfe, president of the South Florida Manufacturers Association, is also seeing “very strong growth” in medical manufacturing, including medical equipment and pharmaceuticals, which she attributes to an aging population.
Manufacturers who export their goods are hoping to benefit from a weakening dollar. Hank Cox, vice president of communications for the National Association of Manufacturers, says based on the dollar’s value against other currencies, U.S. goods are in greater demand in the world market.
“We’ve struggled in the last few years because of intense foreign competition,” Cox says. “Now that the dollar is moving back to its historical levels, we expect to see a vigorous expansion in manufacturing. We see exports rising much faster than imports, and we expect that to continue.”
Nancy Stephens, executive director of the Manufacturers Association of Florida, would like to see more exports, but she’s not sure how much market impact the dollar’s value will have.
“It’s really too early to tell,” she says. “At this point it’s not a big concern or issue for manufacturers.”