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The State of Manufacturing in 2021

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NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons delivered his 2021 State of Manufacturing Address today, focusing on key priorities for manufacturers as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Marlin Steel Wire Products, a Baltimore-based wire and sheet metal fabricator, hosted the event at its facility.

How manufacturers adapted: Timmons lauded the ways in which manufacturers adapted to the constraints of the pandemic by using tools like augmented reality and virtual reality, which allowed them to remain productive even while workers had to remain distant from one another. He also highlighted individual examples of manufacturers who embraced innovation to respond to COVID-19.

  • “Marlin Steel reworked their shop floor so that they could answer an emergency order for test-tube racks for COVID-19 testing—something they’d never made before.”
  • “W.L. Gore, the makers of Gore-Tex in nearby Delaware, donated their fabric laminate for protective gowns and supplied their material to make N95 masks, helping doctors breathe easier.”
  • “Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, invented a portable clean room—a small glass enclosure that shields health care workers from patients.”
  • “And iconic automakers nationwide stepped up to produce face shields and ventilators.”

Boosting vaccines: Timmons thanked manufacturers nationwide who have led the effort to get employees vaccinated against COVID-19, stressing the importance of the vaccination campaign.

  • “This is such a powerful example of how vaccine manufacturers are helping all manufacturers, and all Americans, get our lives back. This is how we save our economy. This is how we protect our loved ones. This is our shot to end this pandemic. And manufacturers stand behind the COVID-19 vaccines and encourage all of our fellow Americans to get them. The vaccine is also one important reason why manufacturers see the light at the end of the tunnel leading to the next, post-pandemic world.”

What’s next: Timmons offered proposals for how America can lead manufacturing into the future through bold investments in infrastructure, support for research and development, bolstering supply chains in the United States and ensuring a diverse workforce, all without going back to “the archaic tax policies of the past.”

  • “Our industry isn’t focused on just going back to the way things were. We want to build a better world—one that offers an abundance of opportunity to every American.”

Manufacturers’ voices: A number of manufacturing workers and leaders were featured during the speech to help describe the state of manufacturing. They included:

  • Sharon Kaul, First-Shift Socket Machine Operator at Snap-on Incorporated
  • Lisa Winton, CEO and Co-Owner of Winton Machine
  • Cassandra Hawkins, PS&D/Quality Manager at International Paper
  • Luis Martinez, Outside Sales Representative at Click Bond
  • Patricia Miller, CEO of MATRIX 4, Inc.
  • Juan Rigoza, Weld Technician at Vermeer Corporation
  • Kevin Carpenter, Plant Manager at LP Building Solutions
  • Jose R. Esparza of Gowan Milling LLC
  • Steve Macias, Co-owner of Pivot Manufacturing
  • Frank Bautista, Supply Base Manager at ALOM

The last word: As Timmons said, “Manufacturers simply do not accept the notion that anything is impossible. If we can now develop vaccines in less than a year or remake our shop floors in a week, we can build the world we want to see. Manufacturers are not victims of history, never have been. Because we literally build the future.”

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