ITA member survey depicts growing optimism, increased demand
An April survey of members of the Industrial Truck Association (ITA) shows an estimated expected growth of 2% to 3% for 2013 over 2012 figures, with another 1% to 2% increase anticipated in 2014.
These are among the findings of ITA’s quarterly market intelligence survey designed to help its members depict trends and recognize the changing needs of the industry. In the survey, ITA members estimated the 2013 market for forklifts at approximately 179,000 to 184,000 units, compared to 178,904 for 2012.
In a recent interview, Jim Moran of Crown Equipment Corporation and chairman of ITA, said more than 80% of members predicted relatively small growth late last year. Now 89% expect that in 2013 they will increase overall factory shipments above 2012 levels.
“The optimism is a bit more prevalent this year,” he said. “Our industry’s growth is a strong indicator of growth in the manufacturing sector, and we’re selling a lot of products into the automotive and warehousing industries. Our rebound is symbolic of the economy’s rebound.”
Last year nearly 75% of membership predicted an increase in headcount, said Moran. This year, about half of the companies report they are on track to increase the number of production employees above 2012 numbers. “To me, that makes sense. More and more companies are getting more and more efficient and making higher volumes with fewer people.”
Predictions for demand tend to start strong in the first half of the year. As of May last year, members anticipated 20% growth in demand, which finished the year at about 9%. That was based on industry predictions of 4% to 5% growth. This year, demand is up 10% through May and again might dip in the second half of the year to finish at 4% or 5%.
“Our industry may actually be seeing some level of sustainable growth however small,” said Moran. “But, it may be difficult for many of ITA members to think that way for now.”
Moran said good news for the forklift industry is usually good news for the country, noting that forklift sales often mirror the ups and downs of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We’re seeing a promising trend of renewed growth in demand for powered industrial trucks since 2009 to 2010, when the recession greatly impacted our industry,” said Moran. “This steady growth shows some stability returning to the marketplace. We’re cautiously optimistic.”