LIMA — A crowded room listened to a local businessman talk about the future of the manufacturing business in Lima and Allen County — one that looks pretty bright.
Jeff Oravitz, president and chief executive officer of MetoKote Corp., explained a little bit about his industry and where he thinks it will be headed in the coming years. He was the keynote speaker at the annual Lima Allen County Chamber Breakfast.
Some strengths he thinks Allen County has to offer for the industry: a deep history of manufacturing excellence, an excellent work force, very strong transportation and logistics infrastructure, access to energy and water, and a relatively low overall cost of doing business.
“We also face some challenges,” Oravitz said Friday morning. “Not the least of which is a declining population, difficulties that we see in recruiting management talent primarily, and a limited R & D infrastructure.”
Things he recommended: developing a broad workforce with a wide range of skills, improving the attractiveness of the area for professional and managerial talent, furthering growth in the research and development innovation infrastructure and increasing the attainment of advanced education among the workforce.
But globally, things are looking very positive for manufacturers.
“If we take a look at what’s changing over the next 15 years, worldwide consumption of goods and services is going to increase and double to nearly 64 trillion dollars,” he said. “That’s driven largely by the continuing emergence of the global-consuming middle class around the world, totaling nearly 2 billion new consumers.”
The developing economies of the world will mainly drive the growth, Oravitz said. But at the same time, the effects of an aging population and a reduced birth rate will also begin to slow down some of the current, large and developed economies in the world.
“We’re also witnessing today a very large shift in the energy epicenter from the middle east to the western hemisphere,” Oravitz said. “The U.S. is projected to be the largest producer of oil by the end of this decade.”
China is predicted to begin facing some economy-related problems in the next decade, he added.
“From growing social unrest with a billion and a half people who want to have a higher standard of living, to more competition from other low-cost manufacturing countries, China is facing some problems,” he said. “Rising costs, rampant pollution, the inability to protect intellectual property, all of these things pose as significant problems for China. The economy will undoubtedly continue to grow, but over time, as what happens with most developing nations, eventually their consumption shifts from exports to more internal consumption as they endeavor to raise the standard of living for their citizens.”
The implications of all of this for MetoKote are many, he said. The company plans on growing in Lima and aligning their growth with the world’s leading automobile producers and other manufacturers.
MetoKote makes protective coating applications for many products, like automotive parts. MetoKote has 13 facilities in the U.S. and Canada, seven in Mexico and six in Europe.