By Diane M. Calabrese / Published December 2014
Optimism—why not let it carry the present? Expect the best outcome. Get immersed in the day, the activity—and let the negatives roll off like drops of rain
Throughout history, there has never been a period of time when one could not get weighed down by listing the bad things instead of the good. And there really is an abundance of good that should lift spirits and keep everyone looking forward.
To paraphrase some famous words from a former president: Ask yourself what you can do. Stop waiting for someone else to show the way, get it done, and get going.
Individual initiative adds up to a powerful force.
In fact, there’s a lot of forward movement across the nation. So much so that according to the data released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on September 26, 2014, the real gross domestic product increased at an annual rate of 4.6 percent in the second quarter of this year.
Better still, the contributors to the increase in real GDP came from exports in addition to personal consumption expenditures, nonresidential fixed investment, state and local government spending, and residential fixed investment. (It’s true that imports, which constitute a subtraction to the GDP calculation, increased. Yet the real GDP was still a healthy one.) The export data were very good in the second quarter. They registered an increase of 11.1 percent.
Such data does not surprise manufacturers and distributors who are meeting the needs of traditional customers, even as they add clients in new industries and new regions. Vigor is real.
“I feel that our industry is headed in a very positive direction,” says Aaron Auger, Water Treatment Division Manager at Mi-T-M Corporation in Peosta, IA. “I look at the diversity of equipment applications that our company is involved in, and it seems as though we have new opportunities each week.”
Niches are broadening to capitalize on the possibilities. “It’s the diversification that has allowed us and others in the industry to reach out to these new markets and be successful,” explains Auger.
A broader niche and a wider scope of outlook extends to affiliations and ties across related—and sometimes unrelated industries. Consider the importance of professional links.
Auger does. “I also see the partnership that CETA is forming with ISSA as being part of this diversification,” he explains. “It is going to allow our distributor members access to a lot of products that can help their business to grow. Likely some that they may not have thought of previously, or just didn’t think they could make money with them. I think there are many options for growth both in the manufacturing sector as well as for distributors.”
There’s a word and concept that has fallen into disuse after what was perhaps a period of overuse. Yet it seems timely to revive it: Brainstorming.
Let the imagination take in the full expanse of a business, commerce, industry, and the needs of prospective customers. Brainstorm. In doing so, do not forget to engage those who can contribute their ideas—customers.
Existing customers are often one of the richest sources of kindling for igniting the imagination and innovation. To talk and discuss is to learn and improve.
Conversations with distributors add to the confidence in the industry that Auger has. “Again, I feel as though the economic environment for our industry is looking good,” he says.
“In water treatment, I speak with my dealers about new projects on a daily basis,” says Auger. “A lot of what we are getting into now is all dependent upon technology that didn’t exist a few years ago. It’s opening up new markets and new customers.”
Going along with opportunity, of course, is the willingness to change. Any great innovation—think Project Mercury—means that someone must go first. It’s proof of concept and all that we know so well.
“Our company is lucky enough to have a customer base that isn’t afraid to take a chance on a project and to try something new,” says Auger. “This has helped us get to where we are in business today and will help both our company and our distributors grow in the future.”
The last annual real GDP figures we have as we write (in October) are for 2013, and they are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the Department of Commerce. BEA figures for 2013 illustrate an uneven pattern in real GDP across 49 states (excluded is Hawaii). Still, it’s an encouraging pattern.
In 2013, the greatest growth in real GDP was in the Rocky Mountain and Plains regions. North Dakota led in the Plains at 9.7 percent. Wyoming led in the Rocky Mountains at 7.6 percent.
In what BEA categorizes as the Southwest, Oklahoma (at 4.2 percent) and Texas (at 3.7 percent) were also strong. Negative real GDP for 2013 was confined to just a few states, including Missouri, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and New York.
According to the BEA, the biggest contributors to real GDP growth in 2013 were non-durable goods manufacturing, real estate and rental leasing, agriculture, forestry, and fishing and hunting. That list in itself points up an array of opportunities for manufacturers and distributors in our industry.
Doing our best, being the best, and just aiming to keep getting better (that striving for excellence) is what sustains and fortifies us as individuals and as part of a particular industry and community. It is optimism played out in everyday life. True, it’s always appropriate to plan for the worst. It’s just not useful or productive to expect the worst.
Time passes whether we are active or not. Do something and then do it better. Everyone that set to sea in a ship dependent on masts, or headed West in a Conestoga wagon, or got into a space shuttle thought about what could be and not what might happen. Potential and realizing it are the stuff of America. Our industry strengthens itself and the nation by showing how it is done.
Are you dealing with tougher laws for disposal of wastewater from cleaning? Manufacturers make equipment to meet the requirements and distributors help contractors update their approach.
How should you handle more limits on emissions from combustion engines? Manufacturers meet them and exceed them; distributors are happy to share the products with contractors.
How should you respond to greater oversight on everything from international trade to technical documentation and certification for equipment? Manufacturers and distributors comply and coordinate their efforts to make the requirements as easy as possible to meet.
CETA, the Cleaning Equipment Trade Association, is a powerful force in helping manufacturers and distributors keep pace with anything that might weigh an individual business down (e.g., a new or pending regulation), so that the business can get on with its primary activity. CETA makes it possible for manufacturers and distributors to keep stepping forward in the best possible way.
For more than 20 years, CETA has brought professionals in the industry together so that when there is a bit of volatility or uncertainty or uneasiness, there’s a ready forum for getting together with competitors and colleagues.
The forum that is CETA allows in-dividual businesses to refine strategy and retain their optimism. (There’s nothing like hearing “been there and resolved that.”) Optimism matters, period.