MHIA provides outlook on industry at ProMat

It was a steadying message coming from the Material Handling Industry of America during its press conference, held during the ProMat 2007 trade show at Chicago’s McCormick Place. Brian McNamara, executive chairman, Material Handling Industry and president of Southworth International Group, detailed where the material handling industry has been over the past year and where it’s heade...
By Kevin Campbell February 1, 2007

It was a steadying message coming from the Material Handling Industry of America during its press conference, held during the ProMat 2007 trade show at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Brian McNamara, executive chairman, Material Handling Industry and president of Southworth International Group, detailed where the material handling industry has been over the past year and where it’s headed in the years ahead.

“Like any other industry, like any other market segment, we have cycles. We have our ups, we have our downs,” said McNamara, as he cited growth the industry has seen over the past three years. Through October 2006, new orders grew at an annual rate of 8.6% to close at $26.4 billion, and shipments grew 14.7%, closing at $25.8 billion. Imports grew at an annual rate or 10.6% to $5.3 billion, while exports grew 20.8% to $3.9 billion. Net trade value contracted at an annual rate of 10.9% to $1.4 billion, he said.

Moving into 2007, McNamara is anticipating slow but steady growth.

“We’re in a decline. We’re still on the upside but we’re declining a little bit,” he said. The forecasted growth of shipments is 61/2 to 8%, indicating a bit of a lag and a start to 2008 that could be, as McNamara called it, “iffy.” But, he also pointed out, the Global Insight Forecast, which runs about a year ahead of the MHIA, indicates an upturn towards the end of 2007.

“I think we’ll see a decline as we go into 2008, but it looks fairly soft in terms of where it will come out,” McNamara concluded.

George Prest, vice chairman, Material Handling Industry and the MHIA membership division and president of Prest Rack, Inc., briefed the assembled press on recent and future programs and events.