How healthy is your business?

May 3, 2012
By: Vicki Bell

The first quarter of 2012 is behind us. Companies of all sizes are examining their first quarter results to gauge how well they are doing and plan for the months ahead. Investors wait anxiously for corporations to tally, massage, report, and spin their figures, comparing them to economists' predictions and the previous year's performance—better or worse.

As reported on, "General Motors reported strong first-quarter earnings on good results in its domestic market Thursday, but its bottom line took a hit from rising losses and special charges in Europe.

"The world's largest automaker reported operating earnings of $2.2 billion, excluding special items, up 7 percent from a year earlier, and significantly better than expected by analysts.

"But the company's net income was hurt by problems in Europe that forced it to change how it accounts for its factories there, recording them as less valuable.

"GM reported operating earnings of $1.7 billion in its North American auto unit when excluding special items, up from $1.3 billion on that basis in the first quarter of last year." 

It's easy to find out how the big corporations are doing. But what about the smaller fabricators?

In a recent survey on, we asked site visitors how their companies fared in the first quarter compared to a year ago. As of this writing, 42 percent of respondents said business is up; 25 percent said it’s flat; and 33 percent said business is down compared to a year ago.

Referencing this survey in April's "Welding Wire" e-newsletter, we asked readers to tell us how their businesses performed in the first quarter.

Don from Kentucky said, "We are up significantly and are still expanding.  We manufacture shakers and separators for the oil field industry." 

Jeff from Nebraska said, "Our business is a small air filtration manufacturer. We see a nice positive growth trend in the fabrication markets, a large portion of our business."

While conditions are good at Jeff's company, he has some concerns: "We feel a few things need to happen for the economy to recover with more optimism: a balanced federal budget ratified by our government that controls their spending levels, a tax system that is set in place so we know what to expect for future planning, and settlement for a long term health program. It is very hard to make budget decisions when you do not know what your actual costs and liabilities will be in the future."

Expansion plans can be considered an indicator of a healthy business. recently reported that Roll Forming Corp., a metal products manufacturer, is planning a $6.3 million investment at its Shelby County, Kentucky, plant, expanding its 60,000 square foot production complex to 91,000 square feet, with initial plans to add 30 jobs.

"Roll Forming utilizes roll forming metal technology to create a variety of products for varied industries, ranging from transportation and construction to renewable energy and aerospace. The company's expansion is due to growth in commercial aviation markets."

Don's company and Roll Forming Corp. are benefiting from being involved in healthy markets—oil and aerospace. It's likely that other companies in these markets also are experiencing growth.

Jeff’s comment about the positive growth trend among fabricators bodes well for a healthy sector.

Hopefully, your business is in good health, or getting there.

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Vicki Bell

Vicki Bell

FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123
Phone: 815-227-8209