Supply Chain & Labor Top List of Risks in Manufacturing Industry – BDO USA Report

May 2014

Keri Toomey
Bliss Integrated Communication
[email protected]

CHICAGO – The manufacturing industry is poised for growth in 2014. Still, the second annual BDO USA, LLP analysis of risk factors listed in the most recent 10-K filings of the largest 100 publicly traded U.S. manufacturers found that they will contend with a number of challenges as they work to capitalize on an improving economy and increased capital spending. Chief among them is working to achieve a secure and efficient supply chain, a risk cited by 100 percent of manufacturers this year, up from 83 percent in 2013. Manufacturers are increasingly concerned about forecasting errors which could lead to backlogs or shortages, as well as quality issues they may encounter with suppliers. Moreover, 88 percent of manufacturers note risks related to natural disasters, which could cause transportation breakdowns and significant delays.

Significant concerns over additional exposures caused by the global nature of supply chains are fueling the reshoring trend in the manufacturing industry. But according to the 2014 BDO Manufacturing RiskFactor Report, manufacturers are contending with a number of U.S. labor challenges. In fact, labor was cited by 97 percent of manufacturers as a risk this year, up notably from 2013 (75 percent). The manufacturing workforce is being squeezed as growth fuels more demand for workers and a greater number of baby boomers are retiring. Moreover, the skills gap among prospective workers is leaving available jobs unfilled.

"Growth in the economy and an increase in capital spending is excellent news for the manufacturing industry," said Howard Sosoff, Manufacturing & Distribution practice leader at BDO USA, LLP. "But with greater opportunity comes greater challenges. Manufacturers will face intense competition this year as they work to attract new orders and workers and expand their capabilities."

The following chart highlights the top 20 risk factors cited by the 100 largest U.S. manufacturing companies:


2014 Rank   2014 2013
#1 U.S. and Foreign Supplier/Vendor Concerns and Distribution Disruptions 100% 83%
#2 Federal, State and/or Local Regulations 99% 96%
#3 Labor Concerns; Underfunded Pensions 97% 75%
#4 General Economic Conditions 96% 98%
#4t Commodity/Raw Material Prices 96% 86%
#6 Competition & Consolidation in Manufacturing 94% 92%
#7 Threats to International Operations 91% 87%
#8 Management of Mergers & Acquisitions 89% 80%
#8t Access to Capital 89% 78%
#10 Currency/Foreign Exchange Fluctuation 88% 73%
#10t Natural Disasters, Terrorism and Geo-Political Events 88% 68%
#12 Environmental Laws, Regulations & Liability 87% 86%
#12t Changes to Accounting Standards and Regulations 87% 66%
#14 Less Demand for Products 86% 91%
#15 Failure to Properly Execute Business Strategy 82% 74%
#16 Maintaining IT Systems & Operational Infrastructure 80% 75%
#17 Legal Proceedings 79% 57%
#18 Ability to Innovate to Meet Changing Customer Needs 78% 69%
#18t Privacy Concerns Related to Security Breach 78% 64%
#20 Restrictive International Trade Policies 77% 66%
*t indicates a tie in the risk factor ranking

Further findings in the 2014 BDO Manufacturing RiskFactor Report:

Conflict Mineral Disclosure Drives Regulatory Risks. Manufacturers also report significant challenges when it comes to regulation. Nearly all (99 percent) cite federal state or local regulation as a risk factor and 87 percent note concern over accounting standards and regulations, up from 66 percent in 2013. Manufacturers point to the June 2nd deadline to file disclosures about the use of conflict minerals as a key compliance challenge which could prove costly to their business. In addition, an increased focus on internal controls by auditors and regulators is putting added pressure on manufacturers.

M&A Risks Rise Amid Increased Competition. Growth in the manufacturing industry is also leading to fierce competition for resources, workers and speed to market. Ninety-four percent of manufacturers cite competition and consolidation as a risk this year, and as seen by the recent Hillshire Farms and Pinnacle deal in the food processing industry, many are turning to acquisitions to gain an edge. More manufacturers (89 percent, up from 80 percent in 2013) cite risks related to mergers and acquisitions, a sign that many are looking outside their company to gain access to new technologies, IP, products and distribution channels to improve their market position.

IP Protection Heightens Data Security Risks. High profile data breaches have businesses in all industries on edge. According to Verizon, the manufacturing industry accounted for less than one percent of security incidents in 2013, but nearly one-in-four of those incidents involved data loss. While manufacturers store less consumer data than their customers in the retail industry, the protection of intellectual property is crucial, and any loss could threaten manufacturers’ ability to compete effectively. As a result, 78 percent of manufacturers cite risks related to data security this year, up from 64 percent in 2013. Moreover, the protection of intellectual property and rising concerns over security are also likely contributing to the increase in manufacturers citing litigation risks (79 percent, up from 57 percent in 2013).

The 2014 BDO Manufacturing RiskFactor Report examines the risk factors in the most recent 10-K filings of the largest 100 publicly traded U.S. manufacturers across five sectors including fabricated metal, food processing, machinery, plastics and rubbers, and transportation equipment. The factors were analyzed and ranked by order of frequency cited.

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