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> Recovery or reset?


by John O’Brien, CPMR

Looking back on my experiences at the 2023 EDS show in Las Vegas, I can’t help but wonder if we are in a time of recovery or a reset. Will we recover and reach sales levels we saw for 2020-2022? Were those years anomalies and the demand by customers will reset to levels closer to 2019? If I knew for sure, I probably would have won more at the tables in Las Vegas. However, I remain extremely optimistic about the future of our industry.

One of the big reasons I am so optimistic is the shared responsibility I saw in many of the meetings I attended at EDS. Reps, manufacturers and distributors alike are all facing the same issues in 2023. Negative book-to-bill, cancellations, pushouts, customer credit issues and continued allocation on some products. These issues have us all working together to find creative ways to win customers and continue sales growth. We were all in agreement that the best way to work ourselves out of this is to work together. Many discussions I encountered were more strategic and tactical. There was no finger pointing; rather, there were discussions on how best to work together.

A lot of the discussions revolved around those markets that continue to be strong and show long-term growth, and which products and services best address these growing markets. Electrification and EV seem to be leading the way, followed closely by IoT, medical and some applications within the industrial market.

Another reason for my optimism is the influx of youth I am starting to see in our industry. Whether it is industry events like the ERA Conference or EDS, or even a recent New England ERA Chapter event, we are starting to see more young folks enter this industry than any time I can remember. This is exciting as these newcomers bring ideas and an enthusiasm that help drive innovation.

Some industry experts say these cycles last for three quarters, so depending on when you believe we went into this downturn, recovery could come as quickly as Q4 2023. But whether it’s Q4 2023 or Q1 2024, the future of our industry is very strong going forward.

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