HORSHAM, PA, March 6, 2020 — Kreischer Miller, a leading independent accounting, tax, and business advisory firm serving the Greater Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley areas, today released the results of a recent survey of Greater Philadelphia manufacturers about the potential impact of coronavirus.
The Kreischer Miller Coronavirus Pulse Survey found that most regional manufacturers have or are working on plans to cope with higher absenteeism, a work stoppage, or other impacts the coronavirus. More than 63 percent of respondents to the brief survey said they have a coronavirus plan, are now working on one, or will draft a plan in the near future.
“With the underlying message from many in the health field suggesting those not feeling well to stay home, a plan will need to be developed,” said Jim Westhoff, president of A-Lok Products Inc., which makes watertight connectors, liners, sealants, and other products for the wastewater construction industry in Tullytown, Bucks County.
“We are on the cloud, so working from home is possible,” said Nate Bower, President of Rebling Plastics, which makes power connectors and custom molding in Warrington. Home computers will need to be vetted.
Kreischer Miller quickly developed the pulse survey when it became apparent the virus could potentially impact its clients. “It is imperative that we understand the challenges and opportunities that face our clients, and we wanted to get a quick sense of their thoughts and concerns,” said Kreischer Miller Audit & Accounting Director Michael A. Coakley, who also leads the firm’s Manufacturing Industry Group.
Supply Chain and Sales Impacts Predicted
Nearly 73 percent of survey respondents said the virus will impact their supply chain, with almost 14 percent saying that impact would be significant. And 64 percent of respondents anticipate the virus will have an impact on their sales.
“This could delay the production and supply of critical pharmaceutical ingredients coming from Asian manufacturers,” said Sigmapharm Laboratories LLC Vice President of Administration and Finance Rick Kremer, whose Bensalem company manufactures drugs.
While Kremer anticipates supply problems, he does not anticipate any change in sales. Wayne Automation Corporation Corporate Controller David Fryer has the opposite concern for his West Norriton packaging equipment company. He doesn’t anticipate any disruption from suppliers, the majority of which are domestic, but “Most of our customers are multi-national companies so their sales will be impacted, and so goes the domino effect,” he said.
Bower said most of Rebling Plastic’s new business is delayed because tooling is made in China. “In addition to delaying new projects, I think the overall economy will be significantly affected,” he said.
Several manufacturers said one of their major worries about the virus is that people and companies may overreact, and that those reactions could cause more harm to business and the economy than the virus itself.
“We are concerned that the scare itself may delay sales from companies afraid to make decisions on purchases,” said Fryer of Wayne Automation.
Patrick Foose, President of GEHR Plastics, Inc. in Upper Chichester Township, said he expects the virus will create some disruption in raw materials from China, and, depending how widespread the virus becomes in the U.S., sales could be impacted. GEHR Plastics is evaluating all available information to forge a response plan. “We don’t want to overreact to what the media is reporting. We want to be prudent,” he said. “I think people and businesses need to do as much research as possible. The more you know, the better you will be with making decisions.”
Looking Toward the Future: Coronavirus Lessons for Modern Manufacturing
Manufacturers’ immediate coronavirus concerns are rightly focused on getting their companies and employees through the challenges of the virus and/or the economic jitters based on fears about the virus, Kreischer Miller’s Coakley said. But when the threat of the virus has passed, he believes manufacturers here and across the nation could use any difficulties they or other manufacturers face as a guide to reducing future risk.
“One lesson learned could be the need to diversify your sourcing. If someone is sole-sourcing materials or goods from China, they may find themselves at a complete loss. Those sourcing from multiple suppliers may have less of an issue right now.”
This isn’t about a single virus or any one nation, Coakley stresses. “There are all kinds of potential health, weather, geopolitical, and other problems all around the globe. No one can possibly predict every threat, but something is going to happen somewhere, someday, that could disrupt your supply chain. Whether or not your company is impacted this time, everyone should be thinking about planning for the next time.”
Some manufacturers need materials or goods that are available only from one location or source, he acknowledges. Whether a company operates under a just-in-time production model, in which minimal materials or products are on site at any point in time, or under a more traditional model carrying various amounts of inventory on-hand, a disruption in that supply chain would be problematic. However, to reduce that risk, some companies may find it prudent to carry some additional materials or finished goods inventory on site as a hedge, he said, “particularly with respect to higher volume and higher margin products and customers, or, in other words, for products they absolutely cannot be without or for customers they cannot afford lose.”
Manufacturers might also reconsider bringing even more of their production back in-house. “This can likewise mitigate supply chain risks and, considering rising wages overseas and the long lead times, it could also prove cost-neutral, or even cost-effective,” Coakley said.
Kreischer Miller administered the Coronavirus Pulse Survey from February 27 through March 1. Replies were received from 22 manufacturers in diverse industries from across the Greater Philadelphia region, including southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware.
About Kreischer Miller
Kreischer Miller is a leading independent accounting, tax, and advisory firm serving the Greater Philadelphia and Lehigh Valley areas. The firm is built to respond to the unique needs of growth-oriented private companies, helping them smoothly transition through growth phases, business cycles, and ownership changes. Kreischer Miller offers a wide range of services, including Audit & Accounting, Tax Strategies, Business Advisory, Human Capital Resources, and Technology Solutions across an array of industries, including manufacturing, distribution, construction, real estate, not-for-profits, media, government contracting, professional services, family-owned businesses, and investment firms. The firm provides insight and creative services to organizations that need to be able to quickly adapt and respond to changing market opportunities and challenges. To learn more, call us at 215.441.4600 or contact us.