It’s hard to know what’s next. This remains true in business and in life, and it feels especially true right now. The news seems to change on a daily and hourly basis. Predictions about the pandemic can seem out of date within a few days.

When I spoke to Chad Moutray, the chief economist of the National Association of Manufacturers, earlier this summer, he said there was reason for optimism and the recovery curve was heading in the right direction.

Does that match your experience? What are you up to these days? In talking to manufacturers this summer, I found there seems to be some good news. For companies such as Baltimore-based Marlin Steel Wire Products, the demand for medical supplies meant that they were able to gain new business in the medical field. But of course, for many other manufacturers the news was not quite so comforting.

According to the NAM Outlook Survey for the second quarter of 2020, the percentage of respondents positive about their own company’s outlook was 33.9%, the lowest since the first quarter of 2009. To put this in context, the same question the previous quarter received a positive response from 75.6%.

There were differences based on the size of the organization. Small manufacturers felt slightly better, at 42.4%, with medium-sized manufacturers at 27.4%, and large manufacturers at 22.5%. Nonetheless, the survey found that more than 67% had continued operations. In fact, “Among large manufacturers, 50.8% are completely operational, while roughly 73% of small and medium-sized firms state the same,” according to the survey.

As the crisis continues, manufacturers have responded. The survey found that “Manufacturers have also adapted, with almost 22% retooling to produce personal protective equipment, 67% reengineering processes to reflect COVID-19 safety protocols and 12% completely reimagining the mission of the firm.”

The survey was fielded May 4-15, 2020. For more information, visit

How are you feeling these days? Let me know at [email protected].

In the meantime, I hope you and your family are staying well.