For a North American division of Norsk Hydro, a major global aluminum producer, business hasn't been cheery since the summer.
Truck and trailer order rates are down between 50% and 70%. General distribution, a proxy for smaller machine shops and fabricators, is off by 4% to 7%. Automotive is down by 4%. The only question the business has is whether 2020 brings a 5% to 10% correction from a previous high or a 20% to 40% recession-type contraction. "I don't know the answer to that," Straface says.
Many manufacturers face similar questions. Some will pull through because they've been preparing for some time with innovation of technology and marketing strategies or have ridden industry rising industry trends. Others, though, might find the coming year difficult.