Where Manufacturing Matters

Results Are In! 2018 Northeast Ohio Regional Manufacturing Survey

Posted by WIRE-Net on Feb 15, 2018 2:41:02 PM

Yesterday, WIRE-Net in partnership with Bank of America, Conxus NEO, Oswaldresultsarein.png Companies, MAGNET: The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network, Skoda Minotti, and Team NEO, released the 2018 Northeast Ohio Regional Manufacturing Survey report—a collection of responses from more than 400 companies that represent 76,000 Ohio manufacturing workers in Ohio. The results indicate that the manufacturing industry in the region is alive and well, nearly matching pre-recession output levels, and outpacing the nation in productivity gains. The survey comes at a critical time as the manufacturing sector is driving nearly 40% of the region’s economy and it is anticipated there will be 10,000 openings in the region by 2020.

Of those manufacturers surveyed, about 86 percent expect their revenues to grow this year while 58 percent plan to make capital expenditures. For the most part, companies are developing more products and company revenue, which translates to better wages. But, in the same breath, the companies are still finding it difficult to find skilled workers for these jobs.

As MAGNET stated at the event, what manufacturers need today is not the same as what they needed 10 years ago. The survey results are confirmation of the results of WIRE-Net’s year-long strategic planning process and the new 2020 VISION focuses: technology, talent, and leadership.

The survey shows that companies that are innovative with products, processes and services across all manufacturing industries are the ones that are growing the most. Here are the key survey findings in manufacturing technology, talent, and leadership.


Increases in manufacturing output are expected in the next five years in high-tech sectors including computers and electronic products. Emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, and digital manufacturing are beginning to enhance innovation and productivity, but still have significant room for adoption among Ohio's small manufacturing businesses.

  • 54% of respondents say they could use more automation.
  • Utilization of 3D printing is rising, up 11% since 2017, but still only 10% are using big data or predictive analysis, and 15% have adopted digital manufacturing or the internet of things (IoT).
  • 64% of companies claim to understand cyber security and have taken steps to protect themselves (up 10% from previous year), however only 22% undergone formal threat assessments.
  • 69% of small companies have launched a new product or service in the last two years – an increase of 15% over 2016

Talent Attraction and Development

Companies believe the most growth, 62% percent of respondents, will occur within their workforce in 2018, and are also anticipating growth in sales, production, profits, and wages. 90% of respondents said that attracting-developing new leadership or preparing for retirements are a concern or growth barrier. Similarly 58% of respondents said that challenges with talent attraction will negatively impact their profitability in 2018.

  • 88% said that attracting talent was Somewhat (51%) or Very (37%) difficult.
  • Manufacturers are actively planning to address their workforce challenges. 65% of respondents indicated that they are actively pursuing knowledge transfer to deal with retirements. 59% have informal OJT or apprenticeships. 40% work with community colleges or high schools to groom their future workers.
  • Companies are upskilling their current workforce and planning to do more. Company training in 2018 will focus on management and supervision skills, OSHA and safety training, teambuilding, basic lean principles, quality, soft skills like emotional intelligence, and project management.


Over 50% of 400 firms visited by WIRE-Net in 2016 as part of the Cleveland Industrial Retention Initiative (CIRI) have no succession plan. And according to this survey,

  • 69% of respondents indicated that business succession (leadership, ownership) is a growing concern or already hampering their growth).
  • 47% see the retirement of skilled workers as a growing concern.
  • Only 72% of companies indicated they have a formal leadership development program for supervisors and managers.

For 30 years WIRE-Net has been a leading force to strengthen manufacturing in Greater Cleveland. We provide leading edge expertise and resources that proactively assist manufacturers in understanding and adapting to fast changing trends technology, talent, and organizational leadership. WIRE-Net connects leaders to each other and engages them in their communities. We lead, we connect, we partner.

Interested in learning more about the ways in which we can help you address technology, talent, and leadership challenges? Visit our website www.wire-net.org or contact us at 216-588-1440.


[The information in this blog is information shared at the survey rollout event, in the survey itself, and in Team NEO’s quarterly economic report.]


Topics: Oswald Companies, MAGNET, Economic Development, Skoda Minotti, Bank of America, Manufacturing Survey, ConxusNEO

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