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I recently came across an interesting report from the New Jersey Manufacturing Extension Program (NJMEP). This Manufacturing 2021 Industry Report provides an interesting glimpse of the manufacturing sector in New Jersey and what it looks like as we move out of the pandemic. Now, it’s not because I’m from New Jersey that I raise this, it’s because I feel that many of these lessons apply to manufacturing companies no matter where you are located.

Maybe the shot I got this past weekend is making me feel optimistic, or maybe it’s the number of vaccinations I’m seeing on the news, but I feel that we have turned the corner on the pandemic. I certainly understand the risks we still face but the past year has generated tremendous revenue for food and beverage manufacturers. As we head towards our new normal, many of the changes in doing business over the past twelve months are here to stay as they create new opportunities for greater efficiency, sanitation, and production.

The piece in the NJMEP report that really caught my eye had to do with manufacturers’ exit strategy from COVID-19. According to the piece, any successful exit plan has three principal components:

Phase I – Respond: Initiate immediate actions to keep people safe and essential business functions operating.

Phase II – Recover: Restart activities; reopen; rehire; rebudget; resupply; and create a plan to restore scalable state.

Phase III – Renew: Strategic, durable execution across the organization; use lessons from previous phases as elements of a new foundation.

In speaking with FPSA members over the past few months, I would venture a guess that most members are between phases II and III. In fact, as we plan many of our Association activities we are starting to take into account that soon, many of our members will resume travelling to visit customers. We hear there is pent-up demand for capital projects as supply chains in the food and beverage industry have been stretched as far as they can go. Understandably, this is raising expectations among exhibitors at this fall’s Process Expo as this will be the first opportunity in 18 months that these customers get to sit down with food industry suppliers to talk and plan about the future.

Until then, let’s keep our fingers crossed and do our part. The pandemic will come to an end at some point, and we all need to plan on how we move forward successfully for the long haul.

Andy Drennan, FPSA SVP