By Steve Guglielmo, Managing Editor
In the 2nd Quarter 2014 issue of The MHEDA Journal, we interviewed Alan Beaulieu ahead of his presentation at the MHEDA Convention in Orlando. In his article, “Get Aggressive and Start Thinking Big,” Beaulieu said, “While we expect a bit of a soft spot in the second half of this year, there is no reason to believe that the positive trend won’t continue in 2015. Given the proper precautions, this soft spot could be seen as nearly a non-event for MHEDA Members.”
Beaulieu, one of the most prescient economists in the industry, long ago earned the trust and respect of MHEDA members when he predicted, with eerie precision, the downturn of 2007. When Alan talks, our members listen and they are always better off for it. The distributor and supplier forecasts in this issue reflect the fact that our members took the proper precautions, absorbed the soft spot without incident and are in many cases poised for record growth in 2015.
Not only are our members optimistic for 2015, but so are our partner associations. As you will read throughout this issue, nobody, from dealers to manufacturers to MHI, ITA, CEMA or MAPI expects anything but growth in 2015 and beyond. MHEDA Board Member and Liftech Equipment Companies CFO summed it up best when he said, “Several economic indicators such as the PMI index, the spread between the 10-year treasury note and the 1-year treasury note, trend of jobless claims and unemployment rates are indicators we can track that currently do not show any trends toward concern for the 2015 economy.”
However, though we’re in a very strong economy with no worrisome trends on the horizon, there was still a hint of unease that permeated the generally upbeat atmosphere of the forecast. Almost like people were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Part of this, I’m sure, was the typical caution that is inherent to forecasting but part of it is a hangover from 2007, when the recession came quickly and caught many people off guard. The prevailing lesson from that downturn seems to be “Always be prepared because things can turn in an instant.”
With that in mind, one thing we discussed at the MHEDA Board Meeting in September was expanding our economic forecast. For years, we’ve done our forecasting in the 1st Quarter. And that made sense because for most companies, January marked the start of a new fiscal year. But if we have learned that the economy can turn on a dime, why should we only forecast once per year? The Farmer’s Almanac, for example, is a great reference tool if you’re looking for a general idea of what the weather will be like a year from now. But when that time comes, you’re much better off looking at the 5-Day Forecast.
With that in mind, we will be introducing a quarterly forecast in 2015. Each issue of the magazine will feature a quick check in with where the economy stands by segment and region of the country. It won’t be as comprehensive as the 1st Quarter Forecast but it will be enough to identify emerging trends and see if the tides are changing at all. Because while 2015 looks like a year that will rock now, we want to make sure it stays that way year round!