Get Beyond the Next Level

Florida is certainly known for sun and fun, but did you know it’s also a great place for manufacturing? In fact, an estimated twenty thousand manufacturers have set up shop in the state with trends showing more popping up or moving in.

Now, here’s a revealing statistic that tells a lot about the current manufacturing climate in Florida. Approximately eighty-six percent of Florida companies classified as manufacturers have four employees or less. While a small team is by no means a negative indicator of a company’s success, it does tend to beg the question why the overwhelming majority of these businesses are operating with minimal staff sizes.

It stands to reason that a good portion of manufacturers are small because market opportunities can be more challenging to pursue simply due to the logistic of Florida’s geographical position. If a manufacturer’s business model is setup to serve other manufacturers by providing pieces and parts that go into larger assemblies, they may have to ship greater distances to reach some of those assembly facilities. The same applies to fabricating tooling and equipment that support other business’ manufacturing operations. In Florida, proximity to upstream manufacturing customers is not as dense as it is in heavily industrialized regions which makes it harder to scale.

Another factor some smaller manufacturers may grapple with is trying to move forward without a clear vision of where they’re going or how they’re going to get there. Without goals that define what the future looks like, it’s difficult to get traction let alone move on a course designed for growth. Creating a vison requires time and energy that can take away from an owner’s capacity to work in their business, so this strategic exercise can often be overlooked.

Manufacturers lacking a structure and a clear game plan can hold themselves back from opportunities for growth. Loosely assembled organizations tend to operate in frequent turmoil, reacting with spontaneous decisions to whatever the issue of the day happens to be. An environment without an operational format makes it difficult to achieve financial efficiency which, in turn, makes customers may be apprehensive about placing business there.

Lack of financial capital is a challenge that many small manufacturing companies encounter while trying to move to the next level. Manufacturing, in general, is a capital-intensive industry with large expenditures for equipment, inventory, and/or materials.  Smaller businesses may find it difficult to make large scale purchases from internally generated capital and may have to rely on external financial sources for funding. The process of obtaining financing such as a receiving a loan or securing a lease is a time consuming experience with many facets that a smaller company may not be prepared to deal with.

The workforce crisis is affecting Florida businesses of every size just like it as much as everywhere else. Finding and obtaining skilled resources is a serious problem causing many manufacturers to settle for where they currently are or to scale back growth plans. There are numerous industry and government initiatives with the mission of workforce development, but they don’t seem to be keeping pace with the robust demand for good people.

Granted, some businesses are small by design, and their owners are perfectly content to keep things that way. They can earn a very good living and enjoy the benefits of tightly controlled environment. Many of these operations utilize sophisticated process, technology, and automation strategies to achieve impressive productivity results relative to their headcount. Small by design can be an advantage for stability and consistency when it comes to riding out tough economic times.

Regardless of the many obvious and not so obvious reasons why Florida manufacturers are on the small end of the spectrum, many statewide find themselves unable to get their business beyond the next level. This is exactly why APT Future helps technological and manufacturing organizations address these issues and capitalize on opportunities to boost their revenues and profits. We know firsthand that circumstances sometimes call for external capabilities and additional capacities to push a business through barriers to success.

Jeff BadovickComment